Author: Lisa Klein
Rating: 4/5 stars
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. 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.
Everybody knows the woeful story of the Prince of Denmark, but let’s face it: Ophelia has little role in Shakespeare’s original tragedy. It was great to read a retelling that focuses entirely on her, that has a brand new take on Ophelia. The character gets her well-deserved depth in Lisa Klein’s novel.
I didn’t give this book five stars only because I liked the third part a little less than the first two. In the beginning you read about Ophelia’s childhood, how she struggles to find her place at court, how her relationship deepens with Hamlet. The second part contains the play’s plot, the third takes place far away from Elsinore and gives Ophelia’s story an unexpected end. All three parts are well-thought-out, although the last one was a bit slow for my liking.
The witty conversations between the prince and Ophelia made me smile many times. I love a female protagonist who is always ready to spar and can come up with ripostes that make the reader proud of her. Ophelia is certainly independent in her thinking, if not otherwise.
Looking at Hamlet’s ordeal from a different angle was pure joy, although he wasn’t that lovable a guy in this book as he was in the tragedy, but that’s understandable – he obviously concentrates on his revenge after the murder and thus neglects Ophelia. Hamlet is not a love story in the first place and so isn’t this novel.
Horatio, that dear, loyal fellow plays almost as big a part in Ophelia’s story as he does in Hamlet’s. If you liked him in the play, you’ll love him in this book, I guarantee it.
I think the ending was fine, but I can see why some reviewers wrote they hated it. It’s not a fate that many would imagine for Ophelia if she lived, but everyone can’t be satisfied, right? I was though, and therefore I can whole-heartedly recommend Ophelia to everyone who likes Shakespeare’s Hamlet.