Fiedler (Lucky Me) keeps the framework of Shakespeare's classic play intact, but in this fun, feminist retelling, Ophelia narrates. Hamlet's uncle still murders his father, the king, and marries his mother, and Hamlet is called upon by his father's ghost to avenge him. Here, however, it is Ophelia who first tells Hamlet of his father's ghost (she observes Horatio's encounter with the King's apparition from a hiding place). And when Hamlet sets out to prove his uncle's guilt, feigning madness and staging a play that mimics the murder, Ophelia helps him; together they compose the letter, "proving" his madness (addressed to "beautified Ophelia"), incorporating here, as in other scenes, Shakespeare's original language. Fiedler also intermittently offers insight into several of Shakespeare's double entendres (e.g., when Hamlet, acting mad, asks Ophelia whether she is "honest"-virtuous as well as truthful). The author adds a scene in which the two consummate their love, and also lays the groundwork for Ophelia's mad speech about flowers in Act IV, Scene V of the original play. Fiedler takes other liberties: chief among them, Ophelia only fakes her death, calling suicide "a cowardly act"; and also fashions a servant/confidante and new lineage for Ophelia (here her true father is a grave-digger). Those familiar with the original Hamlet will most appreciate Fiedler's imaginative approach, as she pays homage to the Bard with clever cribbing and her own twist on Shakespearean language. Ages 12-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
This book knoweth not what it wanteth to be. A comedy? A feminist revision of Hamlet? A historical novel? At none doth it succeed. The story is already known, starting when Hamlet's father's ghost appears to the Prince of Denmark. But soft! 'Twas Ophelia who saw the ghost before Hamlet and conspired with him to avenge his father's murder! The tale is retold from the viewpoint of a clever, liberated, twenty-first-century-sounding Ophelia, who secretly knows how to swim, write, and practice alchemy-her mother taught her. She out-Hamlets Hamlet with her riddling speeches that soon set one's teeth on edge. In fact, Ophelia engineers most of the familiar plot elements from the play, twisting them to her purposes. Readers will find out from the novel the identity of her real father, whether she was truly mad, and what actually happened to Hamlet and Ophelia in the end-a tragedy it is not. Although the premise is promising, inconsistencies in language, tone, and historical perspective mar the telling. Fiedler lacks a clear understanding of Shakespearean English, mistaking singular and plural verbs, for example; and her characters switch artlessly back and forth from "'tis" and "thee" to modern expressions. Similarly, the tone shifts from comic to tragic, sometimes within the same sentence, making it difficult to become emotionally engaged with any of the characters. The portrayal of medieval Denmark is unconvincing, especially in its lack of stratification between social classes. Were Ophelia more appealing, one could overlook these problems. Sadly, she is not. VOYA CODES: 2Q 2P J S (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with a special interest in thesubject; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2002, Henry Holt, 192p,
This ingenious recreation of Ophelia will delight readers. Even though written in Shakespearean tone, the language maintains an easy-to-follow contemporary feel—fast and witty. The tragic Shakespearean character comes center stage as a vibrant, savvy, hilarious heroine. She masterminds a plot to vindicate the Danish court from lies and deceit and to save Hamlet, the love of her life. Fans of the Bard will be interested to discover the plot twists when the well-known story is told through new eyes. Those unfamiliar with the classic story may come away with the desire to visit the original tale and see how the revitalized Ophelia measures up to the original tragic figure. Whether old or new, readers will find humor in the complicated ploys in which the characters engage. This book would make a great choice for girls looking for a strong heroine. An educator may choose this selection as a hook for a Shakespeare unit. 2002, Henry Holt and Company,
Lisa Fiedler writes Hamlet's story from Ophelia's point of view. His plan to feign madness and to avenge his father's murder includes Ophelia and her brother, Laertes. Ophelia and Hamlet are madly in love and effectively trick Claudius and Gertrude into believing that he is deranged. The plot is serious, romantic, and intriguing. Most teenagers would enjoy reading this novel before analyzing Shakespeare's play. The author's writing style has the flavor of Elizabethan language, and Ophelia and Hamlet's character traits fit Shakespeare's portrayal. The ending is not tragic — Ophelia and Hamlet survive and leave; Fortinbras will rule at Elsinore. Fiedler manages to include many plot details from Shakespeare's Hamlet: the play within a play, Ophelia's drowning, the sword duel between Hamlet and Laertes, even the gravedigger. This novel is a strong bridge to the tragedy of Hamlet. 2002, Henry Holt and Company, 192 pp., Herz
Gr 10 Up-Ophelia is generally regarded as an unfortunate, weak character. She is known as the young woman driven mad by her love for Hamlet and to despair over her father's murder. The anger unleashed by her suicide leads her brother to agree to fight Hamlet with a poisoned rapier, a precipitating factor in the ultimate death of every major character in one of Shakespeare's great tragedies. However, Fiedler's Ophelia is a woman in love, willing to stand by her man, feign madness, and do whatever is necessary to force Claudius to admit to his despicable crimes. Dating Hamlet is an intelligent, inventive roller-coaster ride for teens who know the original story. They will revel in the twists that Fiedler adds to explain the characters' actions. The story will appeal to readers who enjoyed fractured fairy tales such as Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted (HarperCollins, 1997), which demand an understanding of the backstory. It will also lead readers into yet more complicated literary revisions such as Alan Gordon's Thirteenth Night (St. Martin, 1998). Fans of the Bard will applaud this highly imaginative, lyrical text that plays with the story without damaging it.-Betsy Fraser, Calgary Public Library, Canada Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
The author of several "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" and "Mary Kate and Ashley" titles converts Shakespeare's play into a frothy tale of colluding lovers with more than revenge on their minds. The plot follows its Elizabethan model reasonably closely--except that Hamlet's gotten further with Ophelia than even Polonius suspects, both Ophelia (who sees the dead king's ghost even before Horatio does) and her brother Laertes are in the know about Hamlet's feigned madness, and with Ophelia supplying the necessary potions, everyone's death except that of Claudius (and Polonius, but see below) is faked. In an artificial mix of antique and modern language--"I prefer we talk not on your nation of frailty and women, sir. In fact, I warn thee--go not there"--Ophelia recounts machinations of her own in support of Hamlet's as she struggles, meanwhile, to fend off the leering advances of Horatio, Claudius, the guard Bernardo, and even, latterly, Fortinbras. Except for the jocular grave digger, who turns out to be Ophelia's true father, all of the men here are such creeps that even Hamlet just seems the best of a bad lot. Consequently, despite sending the joyfully reunited lovers off at the end to Verona to visit Hamlet's school buddy Romeo, Fiedler hasn't transformed Tragedy into Romance, but into a heavy-handed tract on the battle of the sexes. (Fiction. YA)