4.4 189
by Lisa Klein, William Shakespeare

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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… See more details below


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.

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.
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.
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.
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

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
6.23(w) x 8.07(h) x 1.17(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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