The Fool's Girl

The Fool's Girl

3.8 13
by Celia Rees

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Nominated for the Carnegie Medal 2011

Shakespeare in Love meets Twelfth Night - A gripping and evocative historical novel by bestselling Celia ReesSee more details below


Nominated for the Carnegie Medal 2011

Shakespeare in Love meets Twelfth Night - A gripping and evocative historical novel by bestselling Celia Rees

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a tale filled with romance and adventure, drawn from the pages of Twelfth Night, Rees (Sovay) beautifully recreates Renaissance landscapes that would be familiar to Shakespeare, who, not so coincidentally, makes several appearances. The story, set first in Illyria then in England, centers around Violetta, daughter of a duke, who seeks refuge in London while her native land is being plundered. After making the acquaintance of the renowned playwright and telling him her woeful tale of being pursued by an evil uncle, the bard invents a plan to transport Violetta and former court jester Feste to safer ground in his hometown of Stratford. Living under the protection of Shakespeare and his accommodating wife, Violetta feels freedom and rekindled passion, but her sense of security is short-lived. Readers with a literary bent will delight in the many Shakespearean references--ranging from direct quotes from plays to subtler allusions to familiar characters--that are smartly woven into the plot. And they'll have fun predicting how loose threads will be tied together in an appropriate "all's well that ends well" fashion. Ages 12–up. (Aug.)

Expertly livening the proceedings with intrigues, kisses, mildly bawdy comments, colorful characters, plot twists, quick violence, and an occasional breath of the supernatural, Rees dishes up a quick-paced tale that builds to a suspenseful climax.

The novel unfolds briskly and suspensefully. Like Shakespeare's plays, it treads the line between lyrical and bawdy, as Rees uses earthy humor that would undoubtedly have appealed to Shakespeare's audiences as much as it will to the youth of today.
VOYA - Caitlin Augusta
Rees imagines how William Shakespeare came to write Twelfth Night. She reveals that Illyria is not paradise, and that Viola's daughter, Violetta, travels to England with Feste the fool to regain Illyria's holy relic, stolen by the revenge-crazed Malvolio. Violetta tempts Shakespeare with her family's unusual story and travels with his company to Stratford in an attempt to flush Malvolio out and regain her country's property. Other characters from the tale including Maria, Sir Toby, and Andrew Agnew make appearances to enliven this mystical romance. Rees casts an intriguing portrait of the great playwright and the origins behind one of his most alluring plays. Her seamless incorporation of Elizabethan daily life will interest historical fiction readers with its accessible attention to detail. Direct, well-paced prose and rich dialogue strengthen an entertaining story. The introduction, however, a flashback to Illyria, is confusing and fails to walk the reader into a story that already utilizes several temporal perspectives. Some deus ex machina rescues seem manufactured, especially the plot thread introducing the mystical Robin (aka Puck) as Violetta's rescuer. Finally, characterization is not as strong as setting and style. Violetta mostly pines for Illyria and acts noble, likeable as she is. That said, this Shakespearean adventure is better than most, full of allusions and details, and will appeal to readers who love their drama with a little romance. Reviewer: Caitlin Augusta
Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
In this book based on William Shakespeare's play, Twelfth Night, Ms. Rees goes on to wonder what happened after the "happily ever after" marriages of Duke Orsin to Viola and her twin, Sebastian, to Lady Olivia. To the duke and Viola is born Violetta and to Sebastian is born Stephano. Everything is hunky dory until Viola disappears, presumably drowned. The duke loses interest in all but trying to reconnect with Viola's spirit and Sebastian gets greedy, wanting to overthrow his brother-in-law. Violetta and the court jester, Feste, end up in England where they do a magician's act, with the girl being the fool's assistant. Violetta wants to get back her country's religious relic to restore hope and faith there. But it is in the hands of the evil Malvolio, so they ask Shakespeare to take his troupe of players on the road and put on a show where their enemy is. While players are distracting Malvolio, Violetta plans to take back the relic. With many twists and turns, Violetta and Feste are successful, plus Violetta is reunited with Stephano, whom she marries and jointly they rule their island country. Shakespeare gets a play out of the deal and time to spend with his family. A little creepy to have first cousins marrying, but other than that this is an engaging read. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—This imaginative continuation of the story of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night focuses on some of the darker and more serious elements of the play and develops them into an original story. Violetta, the daughter of Viola and Orsino, is in exile from Illyria because Sebastian, her mother's brother, has conspired with neighboring Venice to overthrow her father and seize power. She has been protected by the fool Feste, and together the two go to England to recover a precious holy relic that is a national symbol for Illyria. There they meet William Shakespeare, who becomes embroiled with them in political and religious intrigue involving Malvolio, a Jesuit operative secretly arranging to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I. Events reach a climax during a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream at a country manor in Stratford on Avon. The book is at its strongest when relating the doings of Shakespeare and other figures of the time, including Richard Burbage, Dr. Simon Forman, and Sir Robert Cecil. Rees's research is impeccable, and the details she includes about daily life and play performance in Elizabethan England are fascinating. The portions of the book set in Illyria do not seem as believable, and not just because of the fantasy and witchcraft elements. This would be an interesting read for a class studying Twelfth Night, as familiarity with the play would help readers understand some of this novel's plot elements.—Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ

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Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
File size:
737 KB
Age Range:
12 Years

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