Ophelia

( 187 )

Overview

Ophelia is young, vivacious, and falling in love with a prince who cannot return her affections without arousing suspicion. And so they meet in secret—embracing in stairwells and castle turrets, reaching passionately for each other under the cover of darkness. His name is Hamlet; her name is Ophelia. And if you think you know this story, think again. Because when bloody deeds turn the court of Elsinore into a place of treachery and madness, Ophelia alone will find the means to escape, with nothing more than the ...
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Ophelia

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Overview

Ophelia is young, vivacious, and falling in love with a prince who cannot return her affections without arousing suspicion. And so they meet in secret—embracing in stairwells and castle turrets, reaching passionately for each other under the cover of darkness. His name is Hamlet; her name is Ophelia. And if you think you know this story, think again. Because when bloody deeds turn the court of Elsinore into a place of treachery and madness, Ophelia alone will find the means to escape, with nothing more than the clothes on her back…and one very dangerous secret.

A spellbinding page-turner, this unforgettable novel will hold readers in its grip until the final, heart-rending scene.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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.
Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
In this debut novel, a former professor of English retells the Hamlet story from Ophelia's perspective, creating the impression of sharing the "real" story misleadingly presented in Shakespeare's most famous play. In Klein's version of the tale, Ophelia and Hamlet are secretly married, but in a convoluted ruse, feign being in love so that their real love will somehow be undetected. And in this version of the tale, it's Ophelia, not Hamlet, whose madness has a method in it: her "mad scene" in which she offers her wilted wild flowers to the Danish court ("Here's rosemary, that's for remembrance"), and her drowning death, are both carefully staged so as to make possible her escape from the revenge-poisoned atmosphere of Elsinore. Readers already familiar with Hamlet will enjoy going back to Shakespeare's text to note how differently crucial scenes unfold, viewed through Klein's Ophelia-focused lens; those unfamiliar with the original version may be puzzled at this strange story, and impatient with the stilted Elizabethan dialogue. The novel gains in strength as Klein leaves the Shakespearean template behind to tell us what happened next to Ophelia; Klein's own narrative voice is more compelling than her borrowing from the immortal Bard.
VOYA - Laura Panter
Ophelia is unlike other girls in the kingdom of Elsinor. She is intelligent, quick witted, and rebellious in her desire to be her own person. Raised by a selfish father who seeks a way to ingratiate himself into royal society, Ophelia is placed into the Queen's household to obtain secrets that Polonius hopes will elevate his station. As Ophelia learns to become a proper young woman, her childhood admiration for prince Hamlet blossoms into a secret love affair that she will do anything to protect. A romantic version of Shakespeare's Hamlet, this novel is a suspenseful story of secret alliances, murderous plots, and a terrified young woman willing to fake her own death to stay alive. By the year 1601, the kingdom of Elsinore has been torn apart by treacherous secrets and tragic deaths, with Ophelia the only one with the power to change the kingdom's ultimate fate. 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. Readers familiar with Hamlet will enjoy this contemporary twist on an original classic. For those not familiar with Shakespeare's style of writing, the novel's language can be confusing and the plot slow in several chapters, but readers who persevere will be rewarded with a spellbinding tale of love, murder, and revenge. This purchase is recommended for public and school librarians looking to introduce young adults to a more modern side of the bard.
School Library Journal
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.
Kirkus Reviews
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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780747587330
  • Publisher: Gardners Books
  • Publication date: 11/6/2006

Meet the Author

Lisa Klein was always dissatisfied with interpretations of Ophelia and so took it upon herself to breathe new life into the story of Ophelia. She is a former professor of English who lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons. This is her first work of fiction. 
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 187 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(115)

4 Star

(49)

3 Star

(14)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 188 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An Unsuspecting Favorite

    I honestly never thought that I'd read anything dealing with Shakespeare due to my own freewill. But here I am telling you that Lisa Klein's novel, Ophelia is quite possibly the best novel I've read in a long time. In high school, I always dreaded literature class when we had to read Shakespeare. Maybe it was because back then almost every popular TV drama was based off of one or more of his plays or maybe I found that talking about problems was a much better solution that death. Who knows. All I know is that Lisa Klein blew a breath of life into of Shakespeare's most famous plays Hamlet, and I thank her for that. Everyone who has read Hamlet knows the story of Prince Hamlet and Ophelia, or at least they thought they did. No one knows for sure what really happened to Ophelia when she left her "rags to ruches" life behind. Lisa Klein retells Ophelia's story through the eyes of a young woman trying to find her place in a world of deceit. Ophelia's story begins when she was young. She had a somewhat simple life, at least in the beginning. Living right outside of Elsinore Castle where her life would change drastically and forever, she could never have imagined what fate had in store for her. Although Ophelia's curiosity-turned-affection towards Prince Hamlet started when she was young, she wasn't like most girls her age. She was curious, competitive and most of all a tomboy, which meant her meetings with the prince was often, even if they were short-lived. Ophelia knew nothing of the ways of love, the court or even where she belonged in the midst of it all. As she grew she became a lady in-waiting for Queen Gertrude, and soon became one of her favorites. Due to Ophelia's love of Latin and literature, they formed an almost mother-daughter bond reading "low brow" romance novels and discussing love and politics. At this moment you had a slight glimmer of hope for Ophelia's character. Now if this were any other story you'd think "Ok, everything's going to turn out alright" but then you get a reality check and remember that this story is based off of a Shakespearian play. At this point I was started to ask myself, "What trick is Klein trying to pull here? Is Ophelia going to deny her Shakespearian fate and live the life she had always wanted? Is that even possible?" Of course not, this is Shakespeare not Nicholas Sparks. In most tragedies the fate of a character determines if they took a chance to stand up to their enemy of not. When their conscious and passion would get the best of them they would make a decision that would ultimately change their lives, usually for the worse. Such was not exactly the case of Ophelia. She knew a dangerous secret but would this secret be enough to spare her life? This was the question that kept haunting me as I could see the disastrous trail of events for Ophelia and the inhabitants of Elsinore castle. Ophelia had it all at this point- the love of her life a prince even, Elsinore castle was her home and the Queen favored her. It seemed to me the more Prince Hamlet and Ophelia's love blossomed the closer destruction came. Although they met in secret, paranoia was working its way through Prince Hamlet and Ophelia's life. When their love evaporated quicker than it came Ophelia knew that she had to make a decision. She had to decide if she wanted work it out with Prince Hamlet or escape the castle she once called home. What would I do if I were in Ophelia's predicament?

    12 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book was sooo good. The whole time my heart was bleeding when Ophelia's was shattering, and when she was happy so was I. The author,Lisa Klein, truly has a gift for writing. The entire time you are reading this story of tragedy and love you will have a different outlook on the world. Ophelia was brought up as a simple girl, but she soon catches the queen's eye and then imediately becomes her lady in waiting and throughout the years she becomes the most trusted lady in waiting. When she is 16, Prince Hamlet eventually becomes her secret love and they have a trecherous and happy courtship, but in secret. Then Ophelia's happiness shatters when tradgedy hits the castel where she was brought up. And soon she is concoting a plan to save her life. This story is mind shatteringly good and will help you understand true love and how you need to trust your own instincts about men. I highly recomend this book to everyone.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 2, 2009

    Great Book!

    This book simply took my breath away. Hamlet is by far my favorite Shakespeare play, and Ophelia offers a great new perspective on the story.There was forbidden love, betrayal, revenge, and friendship in the novel. The story stayed true to Hamlet, while still remaining original. I definitely recommend it !

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2011

    Incredible!! wonderful imagery!!!! Amazing contribution to Hamlet

    i know this might sound pathetic but ive read this book 3 times. the book takes u into ophelias world and you feel i like she is sitting right next to u you........ a wonderful read for those who have read Hamlet and want to know more about Ophelia

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2012

    Wow

    Never thoufht i would look at shakespear with anything other than confused digust but this book openwd my eyes. The characyer of Opheliawas strong spirited but not rebellious. She was kind but not overly and sickeningly so.

    The relationship with Hamlet was a whirlind at best. Fast to start and quick to end. One day he marries her and the next hehardly speaks to her. It seemed bit unnatural and thewhole story was kind of rushed. Still i was enthralled from the beginning. I enjoyed the c,ever ways Ophelia manipulated events and i ,ove her brilliant escape.

    A lot of people have complained about the dullness if her time with the nuns but i found it interesting. I loved the details about the lives if the ither girls and discovering theirnsecrets.

    All in all i felt it was a charming story it just needed more detail and more time for the plot to develop.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2012

    Great Book

    A new prespective on an old tale. The character ophelia is a great addition to the story and the plot is exciting. I couldnt even predict what woud come next!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2012

    Good read

    This book kept my interest and made me wish for a sequel. Good read.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2012

    Buy this book!

    I don't even have the words to describe this book! If it was a movie I would watch it.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Ophelia

    Most of us have read, if not at least heard of, the story of Hamlet. The danish prince's tale has captured the imagination of many, but what of the beautiful Ophelia? Where did she come from and why did she behave the way she did. Lisa Klein takes a look into the life of Ophelia before the start of Hamlet, and follows her through the tragic tale.

    Ophelia's story is interesting, and Klein did a fantastic job of molding her story into the framework of Hamlet. But there was just something about her that I had a hard time connecting with for some reason. She seemed a bit one sided, always worrying, complaining, and enjoying the same things no matter what the circumstances were. I can see the places where the author tried to make her grow and develop into something more, but she always came up just a bit short....maybe that was the point?

    The plot was were it really lost me. I know there is only so much freedom you have when you are working within another famous story, but there was much of Ophelia's life that was up to the imagination. Most of her story just seemed a bit cliche and overdone. I could almost swear I had read something almost exactly the same and that did turn me off quite a bit.

    I don't want to turn anyone off from the book too much though. I don't think there was anything actually wrong with the story, writing style, or characters. And I have to admire the way the author was able to keep all the facts from Hamlet straight and fit it into Ophelia's story just right. It just wasn't a book for me.

    3/5

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2012

    Wounderful !

    I realy loved this book! It hade you hooked untill the end! A must read .

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2012

    Great story

    I loved this book. The fact that you got to see the other side of this famous story from the amazing Ophelia's point of view was great. Loved it, it was a book that I could not put down!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    Wonderful Book, Never put it down.

    The book was amazing! I picked it up almost 6yrs ago and i constantly revisit it to this day. Wrote an award winning poem using this story as a basis entitled "Sincerely Your Ophelia"

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 22, 2011

    Absolute Agony (CAUTION-SOME SPOILERS)

    It's difficult to describe how very disappointed this book made me. The beginning was absolutely magnificent. The description of Ophelia's childhood at court was very interesting, and her secret love with Hamlet was so sweet I nearly broke out in tears. Hamlet and Ophelia had such wonderful chemistry and devotion to one another and it warmed my heart to read of it. But as soon as the late King's ghost appeared everything began to transform from blissful to irritating. Hamlet's madness was portrayed very well and was true to the play, but Ophelia was driving me insane. Rather than finding out exactly what was going on, she moaned and groaned that Hamlet no longer loved her, and within but mere chapters the love story that I had taken such great pleasure in fell to the ground in a heap as Ophelia took matters into her own hands. The entire middle of this story was lacking explanation and I groaned with a wanting for Ophelia to find out what was happening instead of freaking out. Suddenly she was independent, and decided to fake her drowning in order to protect herself from the malevolence in Denmark. I wished she would have just had courage and found out exactly what was happening to Hamlet. But no. Instead she cut of her hair and became a man, as if she were Mulan. This plot twist was so confusing I couldn't understand where the story could possibly be going. And when hearing from Horatio that Hamlet had declared to everyone his love for her, she cared for nothing but the fact that he and Laertes had fought and became angry that they didn't console each other. This being my favorite part of the play, I was unbelievably frustrated and angry with Ophelia for whining. And then we come to the third part of the book, Ophelia's life at the nunnery. This portion of the story was far too long! It kept going and going and going and left me wondering what the point was. Till finally the very last chapter, where she ended up with Horatio. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. I wanted to throw the book at the wall I was so angry! Ophelia and Hamlet had always been one of my favorite couples. I have always believed that they truly did love each other, but their love was lost in revenge. It was as if this book wanted to taunt me with it's sweet love scenes, passion, and romance, only to tear it to shreds through the betrayal of a best friend. If someone asked me if they should read this book I would say, "Sure, but just stop when Ophelia decides to fake her death." Honestly, it wasn't worth it.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    My new favorite book.

    I may be a nerd, but I LOVE lit class. So much that, the moment I realized what this book was about, I had to read it. We read Hamlet in my British Lit class and I couldn't help but feel that Ophelia deserved way more than what she got.

    This story gives all that and more. Ophelia finally gets to be the hero. She's given an excellent plotline that can easily slip between the cracks of the Shakespearean play. Everything fits with the play and you want to believe that this is what really happened, instead of her suicide.

    It's a quick and easy read, but easily reread a dozen times.

    All in all, a great book, especially for those who fell in love with Hamlet.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2008

    Best Book Ever!

    I've always loved the works of Shakespeare and when I saw this book, it sparked my interest. It gave me another way to look at Hamlet. When I fished each chapter, I couldn't stop reading! Once you start Ophelia, you just can't put it down!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2008

    A reviewer

    This book was pretty AMAZING! Ophelia is my favorite book ever! It draws you in and you feel like you are actually in the story! I never knew what Hamlet was all about before I read it, and now I can't wait to read Hamlet! I would recommend it! I keep reading it over and over!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2014

    What the hell

    The girl on the cover looks like michael cera in a wig

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2014

    Hamlet

    I studied Hamlet in college and, later, taught it to high school students.

    I thought this retelling from Ophelia's point of view was very well done and enjoyed it.

    I took off one star for all the typos. They were far too numerous and often distracted from the story. (Or stones as that is what the publisher used way too often in place of story.)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2014

    Good book.

    Not really my genre of choice, but it was assigned by my teacher and I ended up thoroughly enjoying it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2013

    Amazing

    I didn't buy this on the nook but I have the book and it is amazing! There is lots of irony in this! I honestly suggeat you read this! It is really easy to read unlike shakspeare! Love Love Love this book!!!!!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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