He is Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; she is simply Ophelia. If you think you know their story, think again.
this reimagining of Shakespeare's famous tragedy, it is Ophelia who
takes center stage. A rowdy, motherless girl, she grows up at Elsinore
Castle to become the queen's most trusted lady-in-waiting. Ambitious
for knowledge and witty as well as beautiful, Ophelia learns the ways of
power in a court where nothing is as it seems. When she catches the
attention of the captivating, dark-haired Prince Hamlet, their love
blossoms in secret. But bloody deeds soon turn Denmark into a place of
madness, and Ophelia's happiness is shattered. Ultimately, she must
choose between her love for Hamlet and her own life. In desperation,
Ophelia devises a treacherous plan to escape from Elsinore forever . . .
with one very dangerous secret.
Lisa Klein's Ophelia
tells the story of a young woman falling in love, searching for her
place in the world, and finding the strength to survive. Sharp and
literary, dark and romantic, this dramatic story holds readers in its
grip until the final, heartrending scene.
MY RATING: 5 STARS
big issue at the moment is trying to categorize this. Is it historical
fiction? Is it mystery? Is it teen romance? Then again, it's hard trying
to categorize Shakespeare, period, even if it is a retelling.
got a weakness for retellings, especially alternate versions of
Shakespeare, so when I first saw this one I knew I had to read it. My
experience with Hamlet is limited to the Lawrence Olivier film,
but having loved that I was eager for more in any way I could get it.
This one didn't disappoint me. Ms. Klein has done her work well, so far
as I'm concerned. She begins with Ophelia's childhood and quickly
establishes her as an interesting heroine, making the character her own.
I found her Ophelia to be clever, resourceful, brave, a bit
rebellious...a far cry from the Bard's raving, misused young girl. She
was more than a match for Hamlet. In fact, he didn't deserve her. He
couldn't settle on anything, he was two-faced (there was a nice detail
comparing him to the two-faced god Janus), and morally corrupt. She made
up her mind and held her course, using her wits and courage to escape
the tragedy at Elsinore alive.
The action of Hamlet,
once it reaches it, flies by pretty quickly, but I pin that down to
Ophelia's minimal involvement in it all. More time is spent on her
romance with Hamlet and then her exile from Denmark, and it's the last
half of the book that I enjoyed the most. I hate to say much more for
fear of giving it away, but it was really good!
I also have to
mention Horatio. I don't remember much about him in the movie I watched,
but here, he was perfect. The soul of discretion and duty, which
doesn't sound all that wonderful, but his quiet manner and his
friendship with Ophelia, evolving into his determination to help her
flee Elsinore safely, won me over. If anything, I would have liked to
see more of him, as he was a much better contender for her heart than
Hamlet. *raspberry* Gertrude was almost as great, but I liked her best
in her final scene in the book, saying goodbye to Ophelia. I get the
sense she would have been a decent mother-in-law, but alas, this is a
tragedy, after all. Sadly, my favorite characters didn't appear until
the second half of the book--the half I don't want to spoil.
know, given the scene after Polonius's death, when
struck-mad-with-grief Ophelia is talking about various plants and
flowers (rosemary for remembrance and pansies for thoughts), it makes
perfect sense for her to be made over into an herbalist and healer. I
In fact, I approve of this as a whole! I liked it even better with rereading!
Your humble book nerd,