4.4 188
by Lisa Klein

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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. She catches the attention of the captivating, dark-haired Prince Hamlet, and their love blossoms in secret. But bloody deeds soon turn Denmark into a place of


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. She catches the attention of the captivating, dark-haired Prince Hamlet, and their love blossoms in secret. But bloody deeds soon turn Denmark into a place of madness, and ultimately, Ophelia 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, she is pregnant with Hamlet's child. Sharp and literary, dark and romantic, this dramatic story holds readers in its grip until the final, heartrending 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)

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.51(w) x 8.27(h) x 0.98(d)
860L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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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Ophelia 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 188 reviews.
Bou More than 1 year ago
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?
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
twilightfann More than 1 year ago
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 !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I realy loved this book! It hade you hooked untill the end! A must read .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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"
Madeline Deaton More than 1 year ago
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
Lizzie92 More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous 8 months ago
This book is beautiful. I never wanted it to end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The girl on the cover looks like michael cera in a wig
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not really my genre of choice, but it was assigned by my teacher and I ended up thoroughly enjoying it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I tried, I really did try, to finish it. I simply found it boring and slow. It's time for me to move on to another book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Almost five stars! The plot is still engaging, following Shakespeare's Hamlet, from Ophelia's perspective. It is well-written. What is frustrating are the many typos...words are misspelled so frequently...it seems to be a glitch that misreads/mistypes putting an "n" or an "m" in place of two letters. The word "grain" becomes "gram", the word "stories" becomes "stones", the name "Marie" becomes "Mane" etc. It becomes a distraction that takes away from an otherwise delightful read.
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