A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{May 2, 2010}   Ophelia by Lisa Klein

Plot: Ophelia is the learned, tomboyish daughter to an ambitious man. Eventually her father works his way into the court of Denmark. Ophelia becomes a ladymaid to the Queen and falls in love with with the dark and clever Prince Hamlet (and wins his love in return). Everything seems perfect, for a time. But her love is not an easy one. The Prince suspects that his uncle has murdered his father the king and he has vowed revenge. But the mask of insanity he has put on for his plan starts to feel all to real and his revenge comes to deeply affect her own life and family. Ophelia will have to be very cunning to survive her love and his revenge.

This is a wonderful retelling of Shakespeare’s famous play from the perspective of a character that remained sadly underdeveloped in the original. Klein clearly knows the play inside and out; she expands upon the existing narrative and inserts scenes and lines from the text in an elegant and seamless way. We come to understand Ophelia, her family and even the Queen, in a way that the play didn’t really permit. Hamlet is ultimately secondary here. Klein’s Ophelia is intelligent, witty and vibrant. She is struggling as best she can against forces she cannot control. Her love is beautiful and truly sad. But personally, I fell in love with kind, quiet Horatio rather than Hamlet from the start. ^_^


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