She is young, beautiful, and desperately in love with a man who cannot return her affections without arousing suspicion. And so they meet in secret-embracing in stairwells and castle turrets, murmuring each other's names in hushed voices, reaching passionately for each other under the cover of darkness. His name is Hamlet; her name is Ophelia. And if you think you know their story, think again. Because when bloody deeds turn the court of Elsinore into a place of treachery and madness, the young lovers will devise a plan for revenge-and for escape. Part of their plan calls for Ophelia to cast herself into dark waters. But instead of drowning, she will flee with nothing more than the clothes on her back...and one very dangerous secret. What if Ophelia, the tragic young waif of Shakespeare's Hamlet, didn't die? Using this tantalizing premise as her leaping off point, Lisa Klein's gorgeous reimagining of the bard's great tragedy places the ephemeral Ophelia at its centerpiece. At once revisionist and true to its origins, her story offers readers a spellbinding page-turner with twists so startling it will leave them wanting more long after the final, heart-rending page is reached.
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Lisa Klein is a former professor of English who lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons. This is her first work of fiction.From School Library Journal:
Grade 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-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI
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