Monday, January 29, 2007

Review: Ophelia by Lisa Klein

Even those of us who haven’t read HAMLET probably know something of the story. Think hard enough, and you might even recall some details picked up from television, books, and other people. Remember Ophelia? Even if you don’t, you will still love this book. It’s HAMLET, retold from Ophelia’s point of view--and it’s quite different from the story William Shakespeare told! I haven’t read Shakespeare’s version, but I’m sure I’d like Lisa Klein’s better--this beautiful and tragic story is my new favorite book! And I don’t say that lightly; I always have trouble choosing favorites, but not in this case.

Ophelia is simply one girl of many in the Danish court. Hamlet is the prince. What are the odds that he’ll even notice this girl? It’s not likely, but he does. Even less likely, they fall in love. They keep it a secret, but all seems well; the two are blissfully happy in the way only lovers can be.

Soon, though, life at the court of Denmark turns dark. Bloodshed and madness take over what was once a happy place, and nothing is what it seems to be. Loyalties are changing, lives are at stake, and Ophelia does not know what to do. Her beloved Hamlet is a part of the madness; indeed, perhaps the source of much of it. When she runs out of options, Ophelia does what she feels she must.

I don’t want to give away too much of the story from this point on, but rest assured it is very different from Shakespeare’s telling of it. And it is nothing short of brilliant. OPHELIA is a gripping, beautifully written novel with so many elements of a marvelous story: love, conspiracy, danger, despair, deceit, murder, madness, mystery…This story lacks nothing that would make it more brilliant--except maybe a few hundred more pages or a sequel!

OPHELIA is a smart, well thought out novel full of wonderful characters and surprising plot twists. This dark, emotional, and powerfully written novel is certainly a tragedy; we know that from Shakespeare. However, all through it, there is a note of hope, even when all seems hopeless.

I’m sure those who have read HAMLET would enjoy Lisa Klein’s retelling of the story, but one doesn’t have to have read that to enjoy OPHELIA. Anyone will enjoy this moving, romantic, and breathtaking work of art.

Rating: 10/10

7 comments:

Ink Mage said...

I have not read Hamlet, either, but I watched the Kenneth Branagh film version so I know the story, and I agree with you; Ophelia is SO good! I love how it portrays Ophelia as more than Hamlet's mad-with-grief lover, but as a smart and headstrong young woman.

Anonymous said...

Well, I have read both Ophelia and Hamlet, and I still agree with both of you. This book is fantastic! Plus, it actually does stay quite true to Hamlet, with a few more of Lisa Klein's own details about Ophelia that aren't given to us in Hamlet. I met Lisa Klein the other day, and the best part was, she did thorough research in order to write this book. Ophelia is very historically accurate, in other words. I would encourage this book for teachers' use!

spotlightstarlit said...

O the best book ever! I read it once and was so inspired that I began to write my own story using the elements of Hamlet, Ophelia, and Romeo and Juliet, besides my own life. I am an actress and if this book is ever turned into a play or a movie you can bet I will fight to play Ophelia every page brought me closer to living in the times and every sentence drew me in and suddenly I was Ophelia I could taste the poison empathized when Ophelia read the letter of hamlets destruction and felt Horatio's pride at seeing Hamlets son. Defiantly 10/10 maybe even 12/10 if that is possible. My favorite book and I don't see that changing!

Anonymous said...

i really liked Ophelia. I haven't read Hamlet but i look forward to reading now that i have read this beautiful peice of art. It will be hard trying to find a book to read as good as this one!I can't wait to read more of her work!!

Ashley said...

This book is absolutely amazing. It makes me even more interested in Shakespeare's Hamlet. Ophelia is a wonderfully developed character that I could easily connect with. This book is definitely one of my favorites.

Anonymous said...

I love this book!!!!! its amazing and a great story of tragic and love. i think we should be thankful that is not our life...overal great book!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Well i've read Ophelia, More then once. The storyline is so exciting that it keeps reeling me back in even though i know what happens? And i would agree with Anonymous that it would be a brilliant book for teachers to use, in fact im using it at the moment for my summer exam. If Lisa is looking through this i'd like to say these compliments are well deserved. We cant sing songs of praise any louder for you. But prehaps write a squeal i want to know what happened to our Ophelia.