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Ophelia by Lisa Klein: A Book Review

Ophelia
Author: Lisa Klein
Genre: YA, Historical fiction, Suspense,
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Release Date: 2006
Pages: 336
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: He is Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; she is simply Ophelia. If you think you know their story, think again.

    In this reimagining of Shakespeare's famous tragedy, it is Ophelia who takes center stage and finally gets her due. Ambitious for knowledge and witty as well as beautiful, Ophelia catches the attention of the captivating, dark-haired Prince Hamlet, and their love blossoms in secret. But bloody deeds soon turn Denmark into a place of madness, and Ophelia will be forced to 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.


     My Review: Shakespeare has always been one of my favorite playwrights. I like to read his plays during my spare time. One of his best known plays is Hamlet because what seems like a benevolent king is actually hiding dark secrets. The one who knows his true nature is his step-son/nephew, who the court believes is mad but actually is not. Hamlet is a dark tale about murder, despotism, power, ambition, and tyranny. In Ophelia, it is a  faithful retelling of Hamlet from Ophelia’s point of view. We think we know the story of Ophelia’s tragic fate, but it is only part of her story.

     The tale begins before there is something rotten in Denmark. The court is happy. Hamlet’s father is alive and happy with a beautiful queen at his side. Ophelia becomes a lady-in-waiting to Queen Gertrude and finds a slow-budding romance with Hamlet. However, her blissful romance falls apart when Hamlet's father is killed, and his uncle becomes king and marries the queen. When Ophelia eventually unravels the darkness and the treachery that surrounds the court, she begins to question her sanity.

     Ophelia is a strong and likable heroine. She is intelligent, loyal, and highly observant. She examines people’s nature and motives. She is the perfect narrator to maneuver her way through the labyrinth of deceptions, lies, and flattery at court in order to see the truth and the danger that hangs over the court and those she loves. She is also a match for Hamlet, for both of them like philosophy and have a thirst for knowledge and truth. She also has a great friendship with Horatio for they both love and care for Hamlet. Horatio protects Ophelia in a brotherly fashion and cares for her.

     Overall, this is a faithful lovely retelling of Shakespeare's play. The third part of the story is slow when Ophelia no longer plays an active part in Denmark’s court. I recommend this novel to anyone who is a Shakespeare fan and likes reading his plays. I also found that this book is a great introduction for people who are reading Hamlet for the first time. For people who are studying Shakespeare and are planning on reading Cliffsnotes instead of reading the play, I advise you to read this book instead of Cliffsnotes. This book helps readers understand the plot of the story, and it is a much more fun and pleasurable read than the boring summaries of the Cliffsnotes version. Ophelia will help you let Shakespeare’s Hamlet into your hearts, and you will want to re-read Hamlet again and see the play in a different light.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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