3 weeks ago
March 12, 2009
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
It's funny how you can go from fearing Shakespeare's works rather very much, then grow to understand it well enough that suddenly you ace every essay you write on his works and later in life find yourself wanting to read books about his works. Lisa Klein's Ophelia is a book not about Shakespeare's Ophelia as I thought when I first heard mention of it but about Hamlet. Luckily for me I have read Hamlet whereas I have not yet read Ophelia.
Before I began reading I anticipated that I would greatly enjoy this book and was most right. It has been a good seven years and many, many books since I read Hamlet. However, I followed Klein's Ophelia well and would not say Shakespeare's play need be fresh in mind prior to reading this book to enjoy it. I would for certain though consider the experience of reading Ophelia further enjoyed if Hamlet is taken up after reading Ophelia. I can't imagine anyone who would not wish to do so after reading Klein's retelling and yet at the same time unique story.
The twist to Ophelia is that this is Ophelia's story to tell and it is very much not the story you have heard from Hamlet. Klein opens a new door for us to see Hamlet from Ophelia's point of view. On top of that it goes on further to tell a story of it's own beyond what Shakespeare had to offer in the way of revealing more to Ophelia's life. What if . . . What if things weren't quite the same? What if . . . I dare not say in my attempts to not reveal spoilers. The point is, it is much different however fantastic literature.
I truly feel had I more patience and were I just a little religious I would have enjoyed this book further. As is I love it, and yet the ending just wasn't for me. Perhaps it would have revealed a little more understanding on my part were I religious. I am an open minded person myself but think others who are religious may enjoy this book a little more than I have. That isn't saying a great deal of course because I rather enjoyed this book quite a lot.
Ophelia has made me starved for more books like it and I eagerly await for Lisa Klein's book in progress, another book having to do with one of Shakespeare's works. She has told a little about it on her website where you may learn more about her and her newly published book, Two Girls of Gettysburg as well. Reading Ophelia has sent me in a great mood for books about classic literature and so I am buried in Austen while taking advantage of this reading craving to tackle my Austen book challenge.
Other than Hamlet the other plays I've read by Shakespeare are Romeo & Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, and Twelfth Night. Besides a reread of Hamlet I hope to soon pick up King Lear for Christopher Moore's newest book, Fool, a book which I suspect though have not yet heard if it will require a little more knowledge from the reader prior to reading.