Monday, 7 July 2008

Ophelia, by Lisa Klein

by Lisa Klein

Ophelia is a novel which tells the story of a character from Shakespeare's Hamlet. This character is Ophelia, a beatiful young woman who lives in in Elsinore Castle, home to the rulers of Denmark; King Hamlet and Queen Gertrude.

Ophelia's mother died giving birth to her, leaving Ophelia in the care of her father Polonius and her brother, Laertes.

She grew up in a small village just outside of Elsinore, but her father wanted nothing more than to work for King Hamlet, so he could become wealthy.

So Ophelia and her brother were moved from their happy village home to a dull, two-roomed apartment in Elsinore Castle. Her father would be working for the King as a spy, to make sure the Queen wasn't having an affair.

Her father was gradually becoming closer to the king, striking up acquaintances with dangerous men, and also befriending Claudius, the King's uncle, drunk all the time and greatly disliked.

Ophelia didn't notice this, because she was too busy running around in the castle grounds with Laertes and his friend Edmund.

As Ophelia grew up, she started to notice the King's son, Hamlet. He was becoming friendly with Laertes, and Ophelia longed for the afternoons where she, Laertes, Hamlet and Horatio, Hamlet's best friend, would play catch, or swim in the river. She was falling for Prince Hamlet.

Soon after realising she loved the Prince, Ophelia was told she would have to move to the courts of Elsinore, so she could work for the Queen and become a young lady. Ophelia did as she was told, and became Qeen Gertrude's favourite.

But soon after Ophelia felt that her life was perfect, Prince Hamlet came along, and Ophelia was reminded of her love for him.

It turned out that Hamlet loved Ophelia too, and so they meet in secret, with Horatio guarding them. They sneak out in disguises of poor farm people so they can finally talk in the open air, and their love for one another grows.

But then something terrible happens at Elsinore. King Hamlet has been found dead. No-one has confirmed this, but everyone suspects he was murdered by his brother Claudius, who everyone knows wants the throne of Denmark for himself.

But, although grieved, Prince Hamlet continues to act merry for he has Ophelia, his beloved.

After sneaking out yet again in their guises, Ophelia and Hamlet decide to get married in the village church, to prove their everlasting love for one another.

But Ophelia's secret is becoming harder to keep as her father and Queen Gertrude both suspect she is having an affair, though neither suspect Hamlet.

All is well at Elsinore Castle, but then Claudius, the evil brother of the late King Hamlet, is elected as King of Denmark.

The court of Elsinore goes mad after this. Queen Gertrude, who formerly despised Claudius, marries him just days after King Hamlet's death.

This saddens Prince Hamlet, and he will not accept that Claudius is King, and is sure that he planned the murder of King Hamlet. He wants revenge for his father's death, and the madness of his mother, and plots to kill Claudius.

But Claudius knows that Hamlet will try to overpower him, and however strong Claudius's hold on the throne may be, he will not let anyone who could expose him as a cheat or murderer live.

So Claudius, too, plots to kill. He wants Hamlet dead.

The entire court of Elsinore has been engulfed by darkness and despair. Everyone is suffering in some way.

The madness goes on for a while, with Ophelia's cheat of a father getting murdered in the process, until, finally, Ophelia has had enough.

Her life is threatened because of her apparent closeness to Prince Hamlet and the fact she is Polonius's daughter, so Ophelia knows she must escape from this madland before it is too late.

So she and Horatio devise a plan, which involves faking Ophelia's death so she can escape to France.

In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Ophelia becomes mad, and dies. But in this tale, it says she faked her death in order to escape to a French convent. For this is Hamlet told through Ophelia's own eyes.

So Ophelia escapes, and she is accepted at the convent, but many find her suspicious because she will not tell her identity or anything of her past. She learns that she is pregnant, and the child is Hamlet's, but she does no longer care for him, because he has turned mad and twisted with revenge.

So, Ophelia becomes a doctor at the convent, and all is well.

A great story, and one that is different. It was extremely hard to put down at times, and it is written so well.

Lisa Klein is a great author, I hope she writes another novel.

Ophelia is Hamlet told by Ophelia herself, yet it bears hardly any resemblance to Shakespeare's work. The characters are the same, with some new ones added, and the main events occur in Lisa Klein's novel as well as Shakespeare's play, but because Ophelia is telling the story this time, it is completely different.

Also, about a quarter of the book is a brand new story, because in Hamlet Ophelia dies, but in Ophelia, her death is faked so she can go to a convent, and a large part of the book tells of her life there.

And it has a really happy ending.

I would recommend it to any female, except the language is confusing at times, so maybe just 12+.

Ophelia Author: Lisa Klein
First Published: 2006, by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.
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 othe under the cover of darkness.
But when bloody deeds turn the court of Elsinore into a place of madness and revenge, Ophelia alone must find the means to escape. In desperation, she will flee from her home forever... with one very dangerous secret.
In a dramatic and heart-rending tale of murder and intrigue, love and loss, Ophelia will tell her own story - one you will have never heard before, but one you will never forget.
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