He is Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; she is simply Ophelia. If you think you know their story, think again.
In this reimagining of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, it is Ophelia who takes center stage. A rowdy, motherless girl, she grows up at Elsinore Castle to become the queen’s most trusted lady-in-waiting. Ambitious for knowledge and witty as well as beautiful, Ophelia learns the ways of power in a court where nothing is as it seems. When she catches the attention of the captivating, dark-haired Prince Hamlet, their love blossoms in secret. But bloody deeds soon turn Denmark into a place of madness, and Ophelia’s happiness is shattered. Ultimately she must choose between her love for Hamlet and her own life. In desperation, Ophelia devises a treacherous plan to escape from Elsinore forever… with one very dangerous secret. (from goodreads.com)
Hamlet is my favorite Shakespeare play, hands down. That said, I can say that I didn’t particularly care for this book. I understand the motivations behind it–after all, Ophelia got the raw end of the deal in Hamlet. Her lover goes nuts and kills her father, and her brother is gone.
Romanticizing Ophelia’s demise did nothing for me, except make the entire story cheap. Ophelia was one of those characters who was supposed to have a sad story–not a happy ending.
The novel itself is an easy read. It’s not complicated at all, and although Ophelia often gets bogged down in description, it doesn’t detract from the story.
I kept wondering about her descriptions of other characters; Polonius, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, even Claudius, who might have been a murderous traitor but there’s no mention of him being a lecherous drunk in Hamlet.
I just couldn’t get into the book. I kept hoping it would be like Juliet, a retelling, but no such luck. If you like seeing alternate endings for characters, read this, but if you like the play as it is you might want to skip it.