In a perfect accompaniment to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Lisa Klein has fleshed out the story of Ophelia for those of us who craved more of this character when reading the play. In Ophelia, Klein presents us with a feisty girl of clear mind who has fallen in love with young Prince Hamlet. The prince cannot return her affections without arousing suspicion in the court of his uncle and his mother, Queen Gertrude. Klein draws important details from Shakespeare’s work to develop the characters of Hamlet’s loyal friend, Horatio, and Ophelia’s ambitious father, Polonius.
Fans of Hamlet will be pleased with Klein’s interpretation of the scene in which Hamlet’s madness turns on his beloved, Ophelia: “‘Go to a nunnery. Go!’ His face twisted in disdain as he retreated from me. Stunned, I made no move to leave. Why should he send me to a convent? This was surely some cruel joke of his.”
Readers will find that Klein has created an alternate future for our heroine in this suspenseful page-turner. The twists that ensue are true to the spirit of Shakespeare’s tale, if not to the word.
Like Julius Lester’s Othello, Ophelia is a wonderful addition to a high school Shakespeare curriculum. It’s one I can’t wait to pass on to my own teen and her book club members. Ages 12 and up.