And so begins the parallel tale of Ophelia, the girl Shakespeare gave us in brief and tragic form, reinvented. As Ophelia's story continues we witness Shakespeare’s Hamlet unfold. The king is murdered, his brother the murderer, much death and sadness until Prince Hamlet lay dead. But just as our Ophelia began long before Shakespeare’s invention, it doesn’t end there either. Author Lisa Klein offers further thought on what happened after the stage renders its mass of dead bodies. Still, I’ll leave that ending unrevealed, only allowing that this time the tragedy offers a hope-filled rewrite.
Ophelia is a wonderful story to use as a spring-board for Hamlet. The reader need not be familiar with the original in order to enjoy this story and I suspect many a young reader will want to rush off for a copy of Hamlet once finished. Klein writes within the original time-line, adding Ophelia’s point of view before, during and after the mayhem. She gives Ophelia a modern voice, yet remains true to Shakespearean speak. The Disneyesque ending is a bit heavy-handed and this reader did have a few continuity questions in regard to Ophelia’s actions, though Hamlet’s continuity is certainly something Shakespeare, himself, was toying with in his original.
Recommended as a jumping off point for the study of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, for secondary students who enjoy parallel fiction and those keen on courtly tales.
Genre: Parallel Fiction. Age: Young Adult. Pages: 336
Themes: Romance, Loss, Coming of Age
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA. Date: October 2006.
ISBN-10: 1582348014 / ISBN-13: 978-1582348018
Buy Ophelia Here
Teaching Guide 1
Teaching Guide 2
Reader's Guide Link
Lisa Klein grew up in the boondocks and tried her hand at writing at an early age. She once wrote a story about a dog with his head stuck in a mayonnaise jar. You can read more about her on her website.
© 2007-2009 Cheryl Vanatti for www.ReadingRumpus.com