Thursday, August 11, 2011

Review: Ophelia - Lisa Klein

Synopsis: He is Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; she is simply Ophelia. If you think you know their story, think again.

In this re-imagining of Shakespeare's famous tragedy, it is Ophelia who takes center stage. A rowdy, motherless girl, she grows up at Elsinore Castle to become the queen's most trusted lady-in-waiting. Ambitious for knowledge and witty, as well as beautiful, Ophelia learns the ways of power in a court where nothing is as it seems. When she catches the attention of the captivating, dark-haired Prince Hamlet, their love blossoms in secret. But bloody deeds soon turn Denmark into a place of madness, and Ophelia's happiness is shattered. Ultimately she must 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.

Review: When I first read this book several years back, I didn't much like it because there are very few redeeming characters and quite a few sexual references. But I decided to give it a second chance, now that I am older and far more familiar with Hamlet, and more appreciative of the purposefully flawed characters therein.

My opinion has not changed drastically, but it has changed enough to make me keep it among my collection, rather than selling it as I had first intended. There are just as many sexual references as I recall, including two bedroom scenes, but the Author gracefully turns away from details and merely mentions that yes, they did it - let's move on, and she words it far more delicately than I did just then. Early on, a character pursues Ophelia with one intent only: to deprive her of virtue, but I assure you than nothing comes of it, and while the Author mentions a few more details than are necessary, she keeps even this to the smallest amount of words. Ophelia's going from childhood into womanhood (i.e. puberty) is mentioned with as much delicacy, and not dragged out into unnecessary details.

The majority of characters are flawed, but let us recall this Ophelia is based off of Shakespeare's Hamlet, which is all about flawed people, so when reading this book, one must take on the perspective that one does when reading the play: don't read it for the characters, but for the story. Even so, the Author manages to deliver some truly redeeming moments, when Ophelia realizes her errors and tries to amend them as best she can; when she determined to protect the life of her child; and finally, the Author presents us with Horatio, Hamlet's faithful friend, whom everyone will adore in the book. She plays upon all of his potential and really brings him to life.

Though I do rather wish Lisa Klein had toned down the sexual overtones, I have to admit that she handled them well nonetheless, and she offers us an ending far more redeeming and satisfactory than the ending of Hamlet. Had it not ended happily, where the villains and no-goods get the comeuppance and the good characters face their flaws and get on with life, I would have hated this book. But I would say that the ending alone makes it worth reading.

Overall Rating: 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for visiting 667B Baker Street! Please feel free to leave a comment; I love hearing from my Readers and I always try to respond, especially if you have a question!