Friday, July 22, 2022

"Ophelia" by Lisa Klein

I read this book about ten years ago, and I really enjoyed it then, so I was excited when it got made into a movie a few years later.  I very much like the movie as well, so I'm glad I had a chance to reread the book.  It's just as good as I remembered!  Such an intriguing take on Hamlet, not only because it's told through Ophelia's eyes instead, but because Lisa Klein weaves aspects of a couple other Shakespeare plays into it too.

In Ophelia, we get to see the title character growing up alongside her brother and interacting with Prince Hamlet more and more as they grow older.  Klein gives them a sweet and tender love story, then shows us how Hamlet's desire for vengeance grows into a kind of madness that eventually wrecks everyone around him, including his secret wife, Ophelia.

Yes, we get a secret marriage between Hamlet and Ophelia in this book, which I find completely fitting.  Everything Klein writes works well with Shakespeare's play as we know it, but with the camera pointed a different direction, rather like the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard.  But in a much less wacky and silly way.  Even the way that Klein twists the ending of her book works with the original play while pulling in elements of other tragedies.

If you like viewing classic stories from a different angle, if you're a Hamlet or Shakespeare fan, or if you just like stories of strong, yet sweet and loving women, I definitely recommend this book.

(From my Instagram account)

Particularly Good Bits:

I could not make sense of this Janus-faced husband who spoke false and true at once (p. 152).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-16 for a non-steamy and obliquely described love scene, an attempted sexual assault, crude humor, suggestive dialog, and discussions of things like menarche and childbirth.


  1. OK, I had to look up menarche. (eyeroll)

    I think I'll like this. I put it on hold at my library, and I see they also have the film ed. But I'll wait until I read the book.

    1. Ruth, lol. I did too, the first time I ran into it.

      I hope you like it! I really liked Klein's book "Lady Macbeth's Daughter" too.


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