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.