In her impressive first novel, Klein retells Hamlet, expanding on the romance between its hero and Ophelia, who narrates this version. Keeping true to the framework of the play, the heroine, now 16, reports the tragic events in the troubled Elsinore castle. When she first speaks to Hamlet, Ophelia is a 10-year-old ragged tomboy tagging along after her brother, Laertes. A year later, Ophelia is accepted into Queen Gertrude's court ("Becoming a lady, I learned, was not easy"), and she grows into a beautiful, rather outspoken young woman with an interest in herbs. Her quick wit attracts the prince's attention, and their Shakespearean-style banter will delight readers. Hamlet and Ophelia secretly become husband and wife, and on their wedding night, the ghost of Hamlet's father appears at the castle; Horatio, at the stroke of midnight, barges into the newlyweds' bedroom calling, "To the ramparts, Hamlet. It comes!" Readers familiar with the play will know that Hamlet's feigned madness to seek revenge eventually proves to be his undoing. As things rage out of control, Ophelia fears for her own safety ("My life... is worth no more than a beast's"). Klein smoothly weaves in lines from the play and keeps her characterizations true to the playwright's, even as she rounds out the back story. Teens need not be familiar with Shakespeare's original to enjoy this fresh take—with the added romance and a strong heroine at its center. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Gr 8 Up
Using Hamlet as the basis for her tale, Klein relates the familiar events from the play, with Ophelia as the focal point. Thus, readers see the social-climbing Polonius as a negligent father, the queenly Gertrude as a concerned and observant mentor, the bewildered Hamlet as a fervent lover, and Horatio as a loyal friend who loves Ophelia from afar. But the novel goes beyond the life of the play for, instead of dying, Ophelia secretly weds Hamlet, escapes Elsinore (taking refuge in a convent in France), bears Hamlet's son, and reunites romantically with Horatio to bring the story full circle. Easy to follow and moving at a rapid pace, the story introduces new characters who add depth to the tale. Klein sets the story in the Elizabethan era rather than in the medieval time frame of the original play; her detail-rich text conveys considerable information about courtly life, intrigue, and the societal mores of the times. She includes adapted versions of some of Shakespeare's best-known lines to keep the flavor of the Bard's work; however, the changes in the language may strike a discordant note with purists and with those who prefer the poetic text. Nonetheless, this is a successful and engaging story that is more thought-provoking than Lisa Fiedler's Dating Hamlet (Holt, 2002), as it deals with issues of justice more than revenge, with wholeness of character more than romance. It is sure to be popular with young women struggling with issues of honor, betrayal, and finding one's path.
Nancy Menaldi-ScanlanCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
No doubt all readers of Hamlet really want to know more about Ophelia. Klein imagines her childhood, her boyish ways and her instant adoration of the Prince. Queen Gertrude, Hamlet's mother, takes Ophelia to live at the castle so that she may learn how to be a lady. Those readers familiar with the play will find this narrative filled with new interpretations of the familiar characters. Ophelia knows Gertrude intimately and offers a peek into the mind of the woman who married her husband's brother. For the most part, Klein sustains a credible, period style. Ophelia the character is playful and bold; her banter with Hamlet is witty, and often their repartee features wordplay and double entendre that would have made the Bard happy. However, there are moments when the illusion is broken. For example, Ophelia's tutor and closest female character says something right out of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, when speaking about her husband to Ophelia: "The husband may be the head but the wife is the neck, and it is the neck that turns the head which way she pleases." Teen readers who love long, detailed period pieces will adore this one. (Fiction. YA)
"Ophelia the character is playful and bold; her banter with Hamlet is witty, and often their repartee features wordplay and double entendre that would have made the Bard happy." - Kirkus Reviews
"Klein creates a captivating story of a young woman entwined in an unconventional love, with secrets that could bring a royal kingdom to its knees. . . . A spellbinding tale of love, murder, and revenge." - VOYA
"Teens need not be familiar with Shakespeare’s original to enjoy this fresh takewith the added romance and a strong heroine at its center." - Publishers Weekly
"This book blew me away." - TeensReadToo.com, Gold Star Award
"[Readers] will be swept up by the vivid, atmospheric setting, the heart- pounding romance, the palpable torment, and Ophelia’s fierce, earnest questions about how to love." - Booklist
"Sure to be popular with young women struggling with issues of honor, betrayal, and finding one’s path." - SLJ
"Lisa Klein has done an incredible job with Ophelia. She has taken one of Shakespeare’s famous plays and written a tale that is a little more user friendly in today’s world. . . . Add castles, adventure, romance, murder and fleeing for one’s life, and you have an amazing story." - Teenreads.com, a Best Book of the Year