Meet Ophelia: a blonde, beautiful high-school senior and long-time girlfriend of Prince Hamlet of Denmark. Her life is dominated not only by her boyfriend's fame and his overbearing family, but also by the paparazzi who hound them wherever they go. As the devastatingly handsome Hamlet spirals into madness after the mysterious death of his father, the King, Ophelia rides out his crazy roller coaster life, and lives to tell about it. In live television interviews, of course.
Passion, romance, drama, humor, and tragedy intertwine in this compulsively readable debut novel, told by a strong-willed, modern-day Ophelia.
|Publisher:||Little, Brown Books for Young Readers|
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Michelle Ray is a graduate of Tufts University where she majored in drama with a focus on theater history and literature. For the last twelve years she has taught English to elementary and middle-schoolers, and is currently an English and Reading teacher in a middle school magnet program for the humanities. This is her first novel.
Read an Excerpt
Falling for Hamlet
By Ray, Michelle
PoppyCopyright © 2011 Ray, Michelle
All right reserved.
“Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Oh, thank you!” Zara shouts as she feigns surprise at the audience’s outpouring of affection and its standing ovation. She gestures for the audience members to sit down, though she smiles broadly when they continue to stand. “Please. Please,” she gestures, and since they have all been watching her for years, they know that she means business even when she’s giving a casual instruction. They settle into their seats as Zara flops precisely onto her overstuffed cream couch, smoothing her dark hair.
She leans forward and begins: “Today we have a guest who will amaze you.” She pauses to punctuate the drama and yells, “Ophelia is in the house!” Her tone sends the audience members to their feet again. They know how lucky they are to be in the audience on this day, and this is their moment to show it. The camera cuts to mostly middle-aged women in seasonal sweaters gasping, clapping, smiling. One even dabs a tear of excitement, or is it sadness? Who can tell, and who really cares? It’s a tear that some cameraman was lucky enough to capture, a cameraman who is planning, as he films, what he will buy with the bonus the segment producer will give him for catching an actual tear wipe.
The audience calms down after a last twitter and exchange of amazed glances. “Our nation has been so deeply saddened by the tragedies surrounding the royals of Denmark. Today, we will speak to Ophelia herself and find out how this young woman was caught up in the secrecy, the revenge, and the madness… madness that we all thought had consumed her.
“You are a lucky audience, indeed, to be here this afternoon. Ophelia has agreed to make one appearance, one exclusive appearance, to tell her story. So, ladies and gentlemen, here she is. Ophelia, come on out here, girl.”
Ophelia walks out onto the stage tucking her bobbed blond hair behind her ears. Her black turtleneck and jeans fit her perfectly, and she has the air of someone who looks great no matter how much time she does or doesn’t spend getting ready. She’s slim but curvy, and healthy-looking, except for circles under her wide green eyes. When she sees the crowd, she pauses to take a deep breath and raises her hand in a little wave. The crowd jumps to its feet again, and Ophelia winces. Zara reaches out an encouraging hand and guides her toward the couch. Ophelia looks at someone offstage and then looks back at the audience, clearly trying to smile. Zara, after prolonging the moment just a second longer, invites Ophelia, and therefore everyone present, to sit down.
“Welcome, Ophelia,” Zara begins, patting Ophelia’s hand.
Ophelia nods and says quietly, “Thank you for having me.”
“So, you’re not dead?”
“That… is true.” Ophelia smiles.
“Ladies and gentlemen, you will recall that on this show just a few weeks ago, we joined our kingdom in mourning what we thought was our guest’s shocking death. In fact, we will replay the video my incredibly talented staff compiled to commemorate her life, a life entwined with that of the royal family owing to her relationship with our beloved prince, Hamlet.” A montage begins: Ophelia as a newborn, Ophelia on the junior high swim team, Ophelia and Hamlet at the prom. As it plays, the music is quieted so Zara can continue. “Ophelia, we were all so amazed and relieved when you were found alive. What happened? Take us back.”
Shifting in her seat, Ophelia replies, “I really wouldn’t even know where to begin.”
[transcript #81872; Denmark Department of Investigations; interview room B; interrogators: Agent Francisco and Special Agent Barnardo] Francisco: Ophelia, you are here because you’re being investigated for treason. Ophelia: Is this a joke? Am I on one of those shows where they scare you and then film it? Okay, you got me. Barnardo: Sit down. This is no joke. Francisco: You vanish. Things go to hell. You return. Interesting timing. Ophelia: I vanished because things had already gone to hell. Barnardo: We think you conspired against the royal family. Ophelia: That’s ridiculous. I’m innocent. You have to let me go. Francisco: We don’t have to do anything. We’re the Denmark Department of Investigations. You’re ours until we are done with you. And we want to know what happened.
You wanna know the truth? Here it is. Not the truth I tell Zara or the truth I tell the DDI or anyone else. I’ll tell you, but no questions. I’ve had enough questions.
Zara leans in, looking like a schoolgirl sharing a secret. Her eyes bright and wide, she asks, “You spent a great deal of time with the royal family. What were they like?”
“Oh, you know… royal. Fairly proper. Serious. And, uh…” Ophelia looks off camera and adds, “But nice, I guess.”
Hamlet’s father had the kind of laugh that made wineglasses vibrate and clink if the staff set them too close together, and Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, loved to hear it so much that she went to great lengths to provoke it. At this moment, she was telling a story and proceeded to launch herself out of her chair to act out the punch line. The king cheered her with a “bravo,” and we all clapped. She took a little bow before kissing the king and nodding to his brother, Claudius, who was smiling but not laughing. He never seemed to laugh.
As many times as I had been in the family’s private dining room, I would always be slightly surprised to see Gertrude relaxing in track pants and without her characteristic French knot. Gertrude’s gaze met Claudius’s, and her face suddenly grew pinched. She quickly looked back at her husband as she fluffed her blond hair and sank back into her giant pink-and-gold dining chair.
Claudius glowed. “You tell a wonderful story.”
“Indeed, indeed,” the king agreed, his eyes fixed on Gertrude. The king missed Claudius winking at Gertrude, who blushed but pretended to take no notice.
I acted as if I hadn’t seen it, either. From the time I could speak, my father had told me this was my role: silent observer and keeper of secrets. He said it was the only way to survive living so close to the royals.
Claudius was creepy and seemed to dislike everyone but Gertrude. He was so different from the king, who was funny and youthful despite the wrinkles and graying hair. When Hamlet’s dad had time, he tried to see movies that Hamlet liked or listen to some of the bands we talked about. I’m sure he hated a lot of it, but he tried, you know?
The adults turned to one another to converse about some associate who told the most dreadful stories, which left Horatio, Hamlet, and me to chat. The three of us had been friends for as long as we had been alive. Horatio’s parents and my father had been advisers to the king, and we had grown up in the castle.
Ever since we were in elementary school, Horatio and I had been invited to dinners with the royal family. As an only child, Hamlet grew bored at the table, and it annoyed his parents endlessly that he couldn’t sit still and be quiet while they ate. Once we were in high school, our invitations were limited to Sunday dinners. Since the king often missed dinner with his wife and son during the week, his staff knew that Sunday was to go untouched whenever possible. In a matter of weeks, Hamlet and Horatio would leave for their second year of college, making these last Sundays more precious for us all.
“You’ve got to come visit this semester,” Horatio said to me.
“I’ll try, but you know my father.”
“And your brother.” Hamlet rolled his eyes. “Laertes is going back to grad school soon, I hope.”
I nodded. “Tomorrow, actually.”
Hamlet replied with a sigh of relief.
“He’s not that bad,” I said.
Hamlet picked up his knife and pretended to stab an invisible figure, so I added, “He’s not. Hamlet, you know I love my brother. Please don’t do that.”
Hamlet leaned over to kiss me, but I pushed him away. He grabbed my wrists and kissed me anyway. “Jerk,” I grumbled.
“Are you two dating again?” asked Gertrude from across the table, her voice dripping with disapproval.
Hamlet and I looked at each other. We had been together all summer, and it seemed odd that she hadn’t noticed. She had been so distracted during the past few months, and I fleetingly wondered again if it had something to do with Claudius.
“Are we?” I asked, somewhat amused.
“Are we?” he answered back.
“For now,” I answered, looking at Hamlet rather than Gertrude.
“What kind of nonsense is that?” bellowed the king, which made everyone except Claudius roar with laughter.
“It means, sir, that your son likes to be unencumbered when he is at school,” I answered when we had all quieted down.
“To being unencumbered,” Horatio toasted, and I threw my napkin at him.
Horatio and I would play our part in the light repartee, but both of us knew how many hours he had spent comforting me after the tabloid exposé that had led to my breakup with Hamlet in the spring.
Gertrude knitted her brow and looked at me squarely. “And where does that leave you?”
“Unencumbered as well, I suppose.”
“And have you been seeing anyone else?” she asked, tapping her sculpted fingernails on the table, her eyes narrowed.
I shifted in my seat. She was not only the mother of the only guy I had ever loved but also someone with the power to kick me out of the castle, which made the question all the more awkward. “Well…” I stalled, grabbing my glass of water and sneaking a sip before she could ask another question.
She sat very still, which I knew was the only reply I was likely to get. Gertrude had never liked my dating Hamlet, and she hated that I had hurt her son’s feelings more. When I broke up with him the last time, it took her weeks to even look at me, and Hamlet had to convince her to let me sit at her table again.
“There have been other…” I swallowed hard and didn’t look at Hamlet. He cleared his throat as he ripped a dinner roll and dropped half of it onto his bread plate, clattering the butter knife. Still feeling his eyes on me, I told her, “I’ve been asked out.…”
“But you have never brought anyone here,” she said.
I couldn’t figure out if she was being serious or not.
The king interrupted. “Gertrude, can you imagine how that date might go? Between the guards and you, I’m not sure which would be more intimidating.” The king laughed, and she joined him but eyed me suspiciously as Hamlet snickered into his wineglass, which was nearly empty.
The king turned his attention to Hamlet and said, “You are just lucky, my boy, that your flirtations have not angered your subjects. Luck can only last so long.” He jutted out his sharp chin and glared ever so slightly at Hamlet.
I looked down, a familiar hurt washing over me. I tried to push away memories of last April’s multipage spread of Hamlet and a girl sunbathing at an exclusive resort, images some of the girls at school were only too happy to have on hand for weeks afterward. Hamlet had said the pictures were taken out of context, but I still wasn’t sure how out of context a girl draping herself across him could be. Months later, my desire to punch him for whatever the context was had only slightly diminished.
Hamlet leaned back in his chair. “I’ve never cheated, and you all know it. How can I help it if the public wants to believe that I have?”
His father squinted at him. “You should know as well as anyone that perception is all. If your subjects believe you’ve cheated, you’re a cheat. They won’t trust a liar as their leader.”
Hamlet reached for the wine bottle, and his mother slapped away his hand.
“Enough talk of cheating,” she declared, her brow furrowed and her cheeks ablaze. “Why don’t we retire to the sitting room?”
We all stood and wandered toward the cozy, overstuffed couches in the next room. Hamlet put an arm around me and kissed the top of my head. I shoved him away, pretending I was kidding but taking the moment to pull myself back together. More than anything, I was kicking myself for giving credence to the whole thing. Lots of people had reasons to sell inaccurate, inflammatory stories to the press. It had happened to us before. Hamlet said it wasn’t true, and I knew I had to stop letting such things bother me if we were going to have a future together. And as for being grilled by his parents, if one planned on spending time with the royal family, one couldn’t be overly sensitive.
Hamlet pulled me onto the couch next to him and put his arm around my shoulder. I leaned into the curve of his body, and Horatio plopped down next to me.
“There are other chairs,” the king said, smiling.
“We can’t stand being apart. You know that,” answered Hamlet.
Hamlet’s father said, “Horatio, your mother tells me you’ve chosen a major.”
“Yeah. Political science.”
“Bah, politics.” The king waved his hand as if clearing the air of something foul. “All of that power, deceit, and corruption.”
“You’ve done well with politics,” Claudius said, his eyes narrowing at his brother.
The king shifted in his seat. “As have you. But we were born into our roles. If you had been able to make the choice, wouldn’t you have done something other than work for me?”
Claudius leaned forward, scratching at his beard, which was short enough to be considered overgrown stubble. “I would have been king.”
Hamlet’s father raised his eyebrows. “You know, being in charge is no picnic.” When Claudius merely sniffed, Hamlet’s father sighed and added, “Don’t be bitter. It was an accident of birth. I’m older, so I’m king. What can we do?”
Claudius ran his fingers through his thick dark hair as he glared at his brother. Then he rose and poured himself a drink.
“Dad, what would you have chosen to be?”
The king looked right at his son and said, “A florist.”
Hamlet began to laugh, and his father joined him with a sound so loud that a security guard poked his head through the door. The king waved the man away.
When he’d settled down, he asked, “Ophelia, is your passion still art?”
“No, it’s Hamlet,” whispered Horatio, and I poked him in the ribs.
I nodded at the king.
“I have that painting of yours hanging in my study.”
I took a moment to think. “The one of the unicorns and the rainbow?” I asked, amazed he still had that thing. I’d presented it, with great solemnity, when I was in the second grade, and he had received it with a bow. “I should make you a new one.”
“I look forward to it.”
The clock chimed ten, so the king excused himself to go back to his office, as he did each evening. Gertrude rose and pecked him on the cheek without comment, which was peculiar. For as long as I could remember, the king’s long hours had driven her nuts. How many times had I heard her say that her husband worked too hard, that he neglected her, and that another few hours wouldn’t change the kingdom one way or another? The tension had been worst right before Hamlet went to college. But then, to my surprise, a few months after he left, she stopped bringing it up as often, at least publicly. I wondered why.
The king’s departure was, as always, the cue for the “young people” to leave. Gertrude and Claudius would stay up talking and, even if it had not been exceptionally boring to be with the two of them, we were not welcome. What she found so fascinating about the king’s reptilian brother, I couldn’t understand.
We got in the mirrored elevator that would stop first at my floor and then continue down to Horatio’s family’s apartment. “I really meant it,” Horatio said. “You’ve got to visit Wittenberg this semester. It’s always so much more fun when you’re around.”
“You really should,” said Hamlet.
“We’ll see,” I said, walking out on my floor. “You coming?” I asked Hamlet, reaching out my hand.
“Is your brother there?” he asked, poking his head out, pretending to be scared.
“She’s right,” said Horatio. “You are a jerk.” He pushed Hamlet out with his foot and yelled, “Good night, sweet prince!”—a mockery of how I sometimes said good-bye to Hamlet. We both turned around and shushed him, laughing.
The king’s Cabinet was expected to live within the castle, as were other high-ranking officials and their most vital assistants. The two-hundred-year-old marble, gilt, and stone portion of the castle was reserved for state dinners, meetings among diplomats, and the like. That part acted as a grand facade to a twenty-story black glass building that loomed over it. The modern section housed the royal residences and included a rooftop pool and gardens, ten floors of meeting rooms and offices, and nine floors of apartments. Upper-level staff, like my father, had apartments on the north side of the building, which looked out at Elsinore’s spectacular skyline, as well as its sparkling river and harbor.
Staff apartments were on the floors directly below the royal residences. Ours had no grand lobby into which the elevator opened. By some strange design, there was not even an entry-way. The elevators just opened into our sitting rooms. Everyone in the castle knew this to be the situation, so people were careful about which buttons they pushed. In addition, one needed a code to go anywhere above the tenth floor.
Even so, with an ever-rotating staff that was often overworked or preoccupied, the chances of an error were great, so one never got the feeling of complete privacy. When we were younger, Hamlet, Horatio, and I found it funny to push all the buttons and see whom we could find in nightgowns or mid-argument. It took a few groundings to teach us that it wasn’t worth it. Every so often I was tempted to do it again but never did.
With the elevator doors closed and Horatio’s laughter fading away, Hamlet and I stood silently, checking whether it was safe to proceed. City lights streamed in through the high windows, giving the large sitting room and open kitchen an eerie blue glow. We listened a minute at the entry to my father’s hall, which branched off to the right of the elevator. We could hear my father’s snore through his closed door, and I tried not to laugh. His bedroom and study were at the opposite end of the apartment from Laertes’s and my hall, so I led Hamlet the other way. We paused again, and since we heard nothing, I kept going. Hamlet shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans and sauntered behind me. Laertes’s door was open, but the light was off, so we continued into my room.
“Finally,” he said when we climbed onto my bed.
I kissed his shoulder, then his neck, then his cheek.
But he pulled back and asked, “So, who have you been seeing?”
“You told my mom you’ve been dating other people.”
“Leave your mother out of this room, please,” I said, trying to kiss him again, but he stopped me.
“No, seriously. Who?”
“It was nothing,” I said, trying to sound casual, which is precisely what it had been, anyhow. He kept glowering at me. I added, “No one you would know.”
It wasn’t true. Hamlet knew Sebastian from the lacrosse team in high school. He knew that Sebastian was in my circle of friends and that Sebastian and I were always in the art studio together. But Hamlet didn’t need to know that Sebastian took me to hear a band called the Poor Yoricks and asked me out several times afterward. I wanted to torture Hamlet after all he’d put me through, but he didn’t need details.
“Hey, we agreed: Don’t ask about last semester. This is what you wanted, so—”
“Well, I hate it.”
“Oh, you hate it? Then I am tremendously sorry,” I said with exaggerated sympathy. “Last spring, I totally should have been thinking about your feelings in case we got back together.”
He bit back a smile but then furrowed his brow and looked genuinely troubled, so I added, “Hamlet, it was nothing. If you want me to trust you, then you have to trust me. It’s not easy for me, knowing that once you’re back at school, you’ll have those girls in little skirts fawning all over you. I’m not supposed to give that any thought?”
He sat back on his haunches. “I don’t like any of them like I like you. I’ve broken things off in the past because I have been tempted… because I never wanted to cheat or lie. But honestly, Ophelia, there’s no one else for me.”
My stomach jumped a little, but I didn’t want to get too excited. I was trying to keep my emotions more in check this year. I had to protect myself.
“I think…” he started, “I want to stay together.”
Again I felt fluttery, but I could not allow myself to trust the sincerity of the sentiment. “Hamlet, you always do this. You decide one thing and then change your mind. It’s hard to know what to believe.”
“Believe that I love you.”
“Let’s try then. Let’s commit to being together.”
“If you say so,” I said, picturing Horatio’s “I told you so” face if Hamlet broke my heart again. But then Hamlet kissed me, and my fears evaporated. I sighed with happiness, thinking that this time things between us would work.
Francisco: So you were tight with the royal family. Ophelia: We spent a lot of time together. Barnardo: How much of that time did you spend plotting against them? Ophelia: None. Why would I— Francisco: Okay. Different question. You were alone with Hamlet constantly, yet your father, from what we understand, was very protective of you. Ophelia: My dad was too busy and too tired to notice what I did a lot of the time. Barnardo: So you took advantage of his schedule and his position? Ophelia: (pause) No more than any other teenager. Francisco: So that’s a yes?
Excerpted from Falling for Hamlet by Ray, Michelle Copyright © 2011 by Ray, Michelle. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As soon as I got this book, I dove right into and love it! I mean really, really love it. I have always been a fan Shakespeare, and I love it when author take a classic and make it modern. It makes it easy for young readers and readers everywhere to understand Hamlet but just told different. Pretty much this book it told almost exactly to play expect of course much more modern. I love diving into this story and being Ophelia. Ms. Ray really brought this story to life by the reader being read too. The reader meets Ophelia, and she is on stage telling her story through an TV interview. I like this cause it made me feel like I was in the audience observing Ophelia and hearing her story play out for my ears. With Ms. Ray writing, it is easy to read and super easy to understand. Most people don't read Shakespeare cause of the difficulty of understanding it but Ms. Ray did a a divine job letting the reader immerse themselves in the story. The plot line of course is pure drama. Love, hate, betrayal, death. Everything in a Shakespearean that you would normally see. I loved watching all of the characters play their roles and get into trouble. What I like the most is the love in this book. No, there is no happy ending. And the love in this book is just dreadful. But the love that was being fought for, I liked. The struggle of two star crossed lovers just trying to be normal, I loved reading. If you liked to read a modern day Shakespearean play, with loads of drama, read this book. I can't tell you how many times I tried to put down this book but could not. My eyes refused to leave the pages that Ms. Ray presented and I devoured this book whole in one sitting!
I am such a Shakespeare freak its not funny. When I saw this in the store I had to get it and I am glad I did. Michelle Ray does a great job of taking The Bard's classic story of deception and murder and changes it up a little. Everything is seen thru Ophelia's eyes, and she is just a high school senior. More worried about what college she can get into and pursue her art ambitions, and of course, dating Prince Hamlet. It was so interesting to be dragged into Hamlet's madness and feel Ophelia's desperate attempts to keep him from going over the edge. Sadly, it all is an epic fail, but I am glad Ophelia lives in this version. She has to deal with so much sorrow but you can kinda see by the end that she might just make it through this trouble. The writing is incredible and there isn't a slow pace to the entire book. If you know the original dialog well, you can pick out certain phrases, but on the whole, the book's dialog is fresh and youthful. This is a great summer read and if you are studying Hamlet this year, pick it up and you can see a whole different side of this drama.
I received an Advance Reader's Copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I have always loved Shakespeare. Though I admit that is has probably been over 20 years since I last read the original Hamlet. I'm always a little skeptical of modern takes on classics. Just recently, I found my husband watching what we call a "Stupid ScyFy" movie based on Moby Dick, only with a dragon instead of a whale. I had to leave the room. Chances are pretty good that I would not have chosen to read this book if it had not been sent to me for review. That would have been a real shame, because I LOVED this book. What I liked about the book: Everything! Ophelia is a very realistic and strong character. In fact, I think she is somewhat stronger in this version than Shakespeare's original. The story is very engaging and is certainly a page turner. I liked how there were three different stories being told. There was what Ophelia told the investigators, what she told the TV host and what she told the reader. It made the reader feel as though they were getting the inside scoop. I also liked how close Ray stays to the original story. Yes, it's told in modern terms, but even after not having read the original version in over 20 years, I would have still recognized the basic story even if the names were different. Even though the story is close to the original, it focuses more on Ophelia than Hamlet. I found that to be rather interesting. What I didn't like about the book: It felt a tad long, but I think that was because I was anxious to see how Ray was going to wrap up everything. Just like Jane by April Lindner, this book would make for an interesting literature lesson comparing the original version with the modern version. If you like Shakespeare, romances, or thrillers then you should give this book a try.
I love anything Hamlet. Hamlet is in fact, one of my favorite plays from Shakespeare. Some modernizations/spin offs that I’ve read in the past were a little sub-par. This one, is a modern day version of the play and it stays true for the most part, but with a few changes here and there to suit the story. I loved the way it was told. It was through a variation of television interviews (Ophelia on an Oprah type show!) and through interrogation by police/secret agents. Also to add into this, the story is told through Ophelia’s eyes. Through these three different ways of telling her story you also get different sides of her character; on the show she’s reserved and professional, she’s witty and at times snarky towards the police, and of course through other own memories and point of view is where you’ll see the ‘real’ Ophelia. It stays, for the most part, true to the play. Of course the difference being it’s been modernized to fit the setting. If you’re familiar with the play, you’ll see how certain moments are modernized yet featured in the book and it’s very well done (two scenes stood out, the limo scene with Hamlet and Ophelia - Where Hamlet goes berserk. The other scene, where King Claudius has a nasty surprise when he watches a play in action) What was also good, was Ophelia had her own circle of friends aside from Hamlet and Horatio, and with the addition of Sebastian, that added a nice little twist to things. Although I liked most of the characters in this book, Ophelia sometimes annoyed me. She was at times really whiny and needy. It got to me. Also another thing that sort of got to me, was the final act with Hamlet, Laertes, and Claudius. I don’t know, if it’s modern like it’s supposed to be, you’d expect them to come out with guns blazing, not knives hidden in lacrosse sticks. Although it’s a most creative idea, I wasn’t too keen on this part. Although it was very elegantly done. Fans of Hamlet will love this modern retelling. It was very well written, everything fit the way it was supposed to, and it stayed true (for the most part) to the original play. Although it does help if one is familiar with the original play itself to fully enjoy Falling for Hamlet.
As soon as I got this book, I dove right into and love it! I mean really, really love it. I have always been a fan Shakespeare, and I love it when author take a classic and make it modern. It makes it easy for young readers and readers everywhere to understand Hamlet but just told different.Pretty much this book it told almost exactly to play expect of course much more modern. I love diving into this story and being Ophelia. Ms. Ray really brought this story to life by the reader being read too. The reader meets Ophelia, and she is on stage telling her story through an TV interview. I like this cause it made me feel like I was in the audience observing Ophelia and hearing her story play out for my ears. With Ms. Ray writing, it is easy to read and super easy to understand. Most people don't read Shakespeare cause of the difficulty of understanding it but Ms. Ray did a a divine job letting the reader immerse themselves in the story.The plot line of course is pure drama. Love, hate, betrayal, death. Everything in a Shakespearean that you would normally see. I loved watching all of the characters play their roles and get into trouble. What I like the most is the love in this book. No, there is no happy ending. And the love in this book is just dreadful. But the love that was being fought for, I liked. The struggle of two star crossed lovers just trying to be normal, I loved reading.If you liked to read a modern day Shakespearean play, with loads of drama, read this book. I can't tell you how many times I tried to put down this book but could not. My eyes refused to leave the pages that Ms. Ray presented and I devoured this book whole in one sitting!
An interesting re-telling of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Ophelia tells her side of the story with each chapter beginning with a tv interview and ending with her interrogation. A fun read for those that love re-tellings and romance. This refers to an advanced reading copy.
THIS IS A 2011 DEBUT!!!Meet Ophelia: a blonde, beautiful high-school senior and long-time girlfriend of Prince Hamlet of Denmark. Her life is dominated not only by her boyfriend's fame and his overbearing family, but also by the paparazzi who hound them wherever they go. As the devastatingly handsome Hamlet spirals into madness after the mysterious death of his father, the King, Ophelia rides out his crazy roller coaster life, and lives to tell about it. In live television interviews, of course.Passion, romance, drama, humor, and tragedy intertwine in this compulsively readable debut novel, told by a strong-willed, modern-day Ophelia. (Synopsis provided by goodreads)First off let me say that Hamlet is my work by Shakespeare.I LOVED this re-telling. Ray's Ophelia is a fun witty coffee obsessed character. I loved being able to see the story through her eyes and see how she delt with everything that was going on. I never saw Hamlet as a sympathetic character in the original play, but Ray portrays him as one. Seeing how her Hamlet deals with the murder of the king, the remarriage of his mother and his relationship with Ophelia was truly enjoyable.The twist with having Ophelia on a talk show telling her version of the events was interesting I loved how Ray told the story and the way her version of the classic characters came to life on the page. I would love to hang out with her characters all of them had a new fresh life about them.I really liked how Ray incorporated some scenes and lines from the original play, I was particularly interested to see how she would incorporate Hamlets famous "To be or not be." I was so excited to see that also included Hamlet telling Ophelia to be a nun and Ophelia's speech when she goes crazy about flowers and the line 'Rosemary that's for remembrance'. It was a very cool way that they were included. I absolutely loved the whole story and I look forward to more of Ray's works, I really hope she writes more re-tellings of Shakespeare. This is one of my favorite reads this year!Overall rating ***** 5 out of 5 stars Cover art Love the cover art the black and white contrasted by the gold and red of the throne is awesome. Obtained: My personal book shelf. (Received my pre-order a few weeks early)
I have never read, nor seen the play, Hamlet. I know I probably should, and I want to, but I've been holding off because I know it is required reading next school year. But that's irrelevant. The point is, this review is not going to be me dissecting the novel and comparing Michelle Ray's words to Shakespeare's. Not only would that be ridiculous, but I have no grounds to do that. I will say that from what I know of the basic plot of Hamlet, Falling for Hamlet was pretty spot-on in some points, and different in others. As the author points out in her Author's note, the play isn't called Ophelia, and since she is the main character in Falling for Hamlet, of course things were changed. Now that I'm done ranting (which I hope didn't turn you off from this review), I'll actually get to how wonderful this modern-day retelling of Hamlet is. I really enjoyed this book. Unlike the play, Falling for Hamlet takes place before things start getting all crazy. I found myself so immersed in the characters and their lives and their stories right from the opening page that I completely forgot what was about to come. When tragedy hits and the madness begins, I was just as shocked as all of the characters. I was really that interested by the words. As the story progresses into the horrible events that make up a Shakespearian tragedy, even though I was emotional enough to scare anyone away, I kept reading. I kept flipping the pages because Ms. Ray's words made me care. In Michelle Ray's author's note, she says this, "My purpose in writing Falling for Hamlet, besides entertaining myself in asking the many 'what if' questions, was the hope that readers would become more interested in Hamlet". I can honestly say, that in my opinion, she succeeded in reaching that goal. The writing was not only at a simple level of understanding, but it was also captivating. Because of this, I found myself crushed in the end. Why? Because I cared. I really cared about the characters. More so than any Shakespearian play has made me feel before. I know that this is a retelling, and not the original, but the point is that going forward, when I do finally read/see Hamlet, I will care. I will already relate to the characters, and I have Michelle Ray to thank for that. I know this review is on the longer side and has been filled with words bordering on ranting, but I really do hope that I encouraged you to pick up this book. As Ms. Elizabeth Eulberg (author of The Lonely Hearts Club and Prom & Prejudice) so cleverly says in her blurb, "To read or not to read will never be the question for Falling for Hamlet". I totally agree.
On and off again playboy/boyfriend Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark. As the daughter of the King¿s advisor, Ophelia¿s relationship is far from being blessed by her father, brother, and Hamlet¿s mother. But they¿ll make it work unless, of course, there¿s a murder and murderer in the royal family.Having read Hamlet in senior year of high school I am familiar with the original storyline. My classmates and I read the play at home, performed certain scenes in class and watch two versions of the movie. I was instantly pulled in by Falling for Hamlet by the synopsis and my love for Hamlet. I loved the character Ophelia and couldn¿t wait to begin Ray¿s rendition of Hamlet where Ophelia does not die. Sadly Falling for Hamlet was a difficult read for me.I found Falling for Hamlet to be a very dull read during the first half of the book. Ray¿s takes her time to situate the characters in the modern time period and redefine Ophelia¿s personality. That process was mundane and stifling. It was so hard to get pass the first couple of chapters that it took two weeks for me to finally force myself to read the book, even then I will admit to skimming pages. Here¿s the part where I think my love for Hamlet was Falling for Hamlet¿s downfall: I know the storyline, I know where it¿s heading so nothing is of great surprise, which was why I found the book boring.When Hamlet¿s madness finally kicked in I realized how much I missed his soliloquies. His soliloquies were what made the readers believe that Hamlet was on the border between sanity and insanity. In Falling for Hamlet, the readers only see what Ophelia sees. Hamlet in Falling for Hamlet doesn¿t have the fluidity; his actions aren¿t very clear. When the other characters fell into madness it came off more as selfish and annoying than crazed. Ray didn¿t take the opportunity to develop some of the other characters as much I hoped she would. While the King was more fleshed out in the short time the readers know him, Gertrude, the Queen, was still one-dimensional.Ophelia¿s role is a subtle one and doesn¿t play a huge part. When Ray decides to continue the original storyline of Hamlet, Ophelia is not present in the scenes. In my personal taste I wanted Ophelia to be in on the action and have Ray shift the storyline a bit to incorporate Ophelia while still have that signature ¿tragedy¿.As I mentioned the lack of fluidity of Hamlet¿s actions, Ray decided to write a talk show, an interrogation and Ophelia¿s retelling all at the same time. Each chapter began with the talk show then moved into the retelling and abruptly shifting into an interrogation from investigators. Too much. Scenes also become borderline ridiculous when Ray moves everything to modern times. People still fence right? For me, it was strange when Ray replaced fencing with lacrosse in the climax. Again, maybe it is a reader¿s preference and Ray wanted to add something original and something of her own. Lacrosse is a dangerous sport.Finally I have to point out the text speech Ray incorporates quite frequently in the book is annoying. I realize that books take years to be published, but I think she should have gone back in and edit those text messages. For example: ¿Strnge thngs r afoot @ the circle K¿. Go hm. H wl need u¿ (Ray 90) is confusing. It took a while for me to understand whatever the heck Ophelia was trying to say. I even read the previous paragraph again, but still couldn¿t decipher this code. I don¿t know why Ray decided to spell out circle when it could have been abbreviated to ¿cir.¿ and then remove all the vowels in ¿home¿ to spell ¿hm¿. At least I think that was supposed to be home. Ray does this again in another text message on page 250 with come (cm) to my confusion.Falling for Hamlet was not for me. I¿m sure there is an audience out there for this classics retelling by the other reviews are saying for this book.
Ophelia is a senior at school and is the on-again off ¿again girlfriend of Prince Hamlet of Denmark. Life in the castle where she lives with her father, the advisor of the King is overbearing and she feels like she is being strangled by it. She is also dominated by her boyfriend's fame and his overbearing family. Being followed by the paparazzi is a daily occurrence and this too is brings it own troublesWhen his father, the King dies in suspicious circumstances, the handsome Hamlet spirals into bouts of madness and depression, Ophelia tries to help but only makes things worse for herself and Hamlet. But when her father is accidently murders things go from bad to horrendous but with the help of Horatio she lives to let the terrible tale.I thoroughly enjoyed this first novel by Ray; the characters were based on the play by Shakespeare, Hamlet. The modern twist of adding the interview style worked extremely well, also entwining the modern technology and issues with the old style royals and subtle Shakespearian language peppered throughout. Ophelia is a strong and passionate character that against all odds rises to the occasion. As for Hamlet, he is still a trouble soul who still comes to an untimely end.
Ophelia really got on my nerves-I kept thinking-thank goodness she's not my daughter! On the bright side-it made me want to pick up the original Shakespeare-so mission accomplished I guess.
I love anything Hamlet. Hamlet is in fact, one of my favorite plays from Shakespeare. Some modernizations/spin offs that I¿ve read in the past were a little sub-par. This one, is a modern day version of the play and it stays true for the most part, but with a few changes here and there to suit the story.I loved the way it was told. It was through a variation of television interviews (Ophelia on an Oprah type show!) and through interrogation by police/secret agents. Also to add into this, the story is told through Ophelia¿s eyes. Through these three different ways of telling her story you also get different sides of her character; on the show she¿s reserved and professional, she¿s witty and at times snarky towards the police, and of course through other own memories and point of view is where you¿ll see the `real¿ Ophelia. It stays, for the most part, true to the play. Of course the difference being it¿s been modernized to fit the setting. If you¿re familiar with the play, you¿ll see how certain moments are modernized yet featured in the book and it¿s very well done (two scenes stood out, the limo scene with Hamlet and Ophelia - Where Hamlet goes berserk. The other scene, where King Claudius has a nasty surprise when he watches a play in action) What was also good, was Ophelia had her own circle of friends aside from Hamlet and Horatio, and with the addition of Sebastian, that added a nice little twist to things. Although I liked most of the characters in this book, Ophelia sometimes annoyed me. She was at times really whiny and needy. It got to me. Also another thing that sort of got to me, was the final act with Hamlet, Laertes, and Claudius. I don¿t know, if it¿s modern like it¿s supposed to be, you¿d expect them to come out with guns blazing, not knives hidden in lacrosse sticks. Although it¿s a most creative idea, I wasn¿t too keen on this part. Although it was very elegantly done.Fans of Hamlet will love this modern retelling. It was very well written, everything fit the way it was supposed to, and it stayed true (for the most part) to the original play. Although it does help if one is familiar with the original play itself to fully enjoy Falling for Hamlet.
3.75 stars This was interesting. And traumatic. And sad. And annoying (not the writing, but some of the characters, who were straight-up jerks!). For the most part, the original premise is still here, and the treachery and hatefulness and selfishness is absolutely maddening. Fiction, yes, but the lengths people go to in this to keep up a facade drove me crazy! (Had this been a movie, I'm pretty sure the audience would have been yelling. "No! Don't do it!!!" "Tell him the truth!" "Stand up to ___!!!!" "Ahhhhhh! What a ____!!!") I enjoyed the retelling, but you don't exactly finish the read feeling much more than a bit of closure and a whole lot of sadness. Nice writing, a different take on a few key elements, and, overall, an interesting take one might enjoy if a) one was looking for something different than the usual retelling or b) a modern take on something they have not yet read.
All i have to say is she really really needs to make more books on shaksphere and moderize it of course but plz make more shekshpere books
It's no secret that I adore Shakespeare. (I'm doing the Shakespeare Reading Challenge for fun.) Hamlet happens to be my favorite Shakespeare play, so when I saw that there was a modern adaption of it, I jumped on it - and when I saw that it starred Ophelia, I was more than intrigued. Thankfully, I don't have to disown anybody for not doing the Bard justice. Michelle Ray weaves a fantastic tale, staying true to the original story while fleshing out the characters and bringing the plot into a much more relatable story. One of my favorite bits about this book is how strong a character Ophelia is. Does she go back to Hamlet time and time again? Yes. I mean, he is the prince of Denmark, and she is an impressionable teenage girl, and she is in love with him. But she always tries to do what she thinks is right, even if it means pissing off the Queen and (newly crowned) King. I loved the development of Horatio as Hamlet and Ophelia's best friend; I think it made a lot of sense, especially with the modern story. Hamlet was as whiny as ever, but watching his progression through the contemporary story and knowing how the classic story was a lot of fun. I think what I'm impressed most with is how smoothly it managed to translate over to a contemporary story - lots of factors could have hindered it, but Michelle handled it really smoothly while moving it over and I couldn't find a problem with how it was written. I loved how she incorporated the police and talk shows and everything that accompanies modern life - and the scene at the end and how it played out made me laugh and gasp simultaneously.
I absolutely love the story of Hamlet, but find Shakespeare difficult to read. Sure, there's The Lion King I could watch, but this modern telling of the classic story works as beautifully as the TV show Sherlock does bringing a classic into the 21st century.
Very close to the original story but with very original and believable twists :)
Great book by an awesome person!
I loved this book! The author, Michelle Ray, is an amazng person and a great teacher. She was my favprite teacher last year. She is completely onsessed about Shakespere and thos book complements the Shakesperian story, Hamlet, very well. It had every aspect of the old shakesperian ages and the moody moderm high school world of today. Read it! :D