I made a New Year's resolution to read more books (in fact, to read one a week). Ophelia, a YA novel by Lisa Klein, was the first book I completed in 2009. And I loved it so much, I had to write today's blog post about it.
Most people have either read Shakespeare's Hamlet, or have at least heard about it--Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, is haunted by his father's ghost that claimed to have been murdered by Hamlet's uncle...the very same man now occupying the throne, and who also just married Hamlet's own mother. Drama! Intrigue! Potential bloodbath!
Of course, since this is a Shakespearean tragedy, Hamlet goes on a rampage, until there's, like, only one person left alive in the end...and it ain't Hamlet.
One of the people affected by this tragedy is Ophelia, Hamlet's love--in the play, she goes mad with grief after Hamlet accidentally kills her father, and she ends up drowning herself.
I always loved Ophelia and wished Shakespeare had written more about her. Well, he didn't, but Lisa Klein did. Starting from Ophelia's childhood, Klein explores Ophelia's upbringing--how she came to fall in love with Hamlet, the twists and secret plots that ultimately kept them from being together, and what happened to Ophelia when Hamlet went mad...and afterward.
Ophelia is a strong, empowering character who struggles to find her sense of purpose, as well as true happiness. I was gripped by the narrative and had a hard time putting the book down.
Even better, this novel breathes new life not only into Ophelia, but into the play itself. The author cleverly comes up with plot ideas that fit the frame of the original story. The language is vivid, beautiful, and evocative, but still a quick read.
I truly enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to anyone who loves Shakespeare or Shakespearean-era stories. Huge, huge thumbs up to Lisa Klein for a wonderful tale.
PS--Klein has a new YA novel out set during the Civil War, called Two Girls of Gettysburg, and you'd better believe I'll run out and buy it, too!
OKAY, CONTEST TIME!!!
Who's your favorite Shakespearean character, and why? Leave a comment in this post telling me, and you'll be entered into a random drawing to win a $10 Amazon gift card (it'll be emailed to you).
Contest winners will be announced Friday morning on Gwen's post, so you have today (Wednesday, 1/14/09) and tomorrow (Thursday, 1/15/09) to leave a comment in this post and enter to win.