Sarah's Stars

Lisa Klein.  Ophelia
Bloomsbury  $20.95  ISBN 978-1-58234-801-8  328 pg.
Reviewed by Sarah, Age 16

Who are you?  I had been my father’s rowdy daughter, then the queen’s favored lady-in-waiting.  Later a shepherd girl in a homespun frock, weaving garlands for her lover.  Then a secret wife.  Too soon a grieving one, wearing rags like a madwoman.  For a time, a free young man striding in breeches and traveling alone.  These were but roles I acted.  Who was the true Ophelia?

Ophelia began as the daughter of a shopkeeper, a man who hypocritically believed shopkeepers to be unworthy and low.  Forever seeking a better place in the hierarchy of mankind, he went each day to source a job in the palace of the King.  Thus one day, merely by chance and endless striving, he happened upon a rumour worthy of landing him a position in the king’s court.

Ophelia was only eight years old, unruly and most likely to be found with her brother and his friends, when she moved to Elsinore Castle.  Little did she know then of the tragic and beautiful events to unfold inside the cold, stone walls.

Set in the fifteenth century, Ophelia is the intricate story of a young girl becoming a lady.  The story takes place in a castle filled with romance, jealousy and handsome young noblemen.  It is difficult not to love the classic way in which the story unravels.  Full of malice and revenge, it holds the passion and tragedy that marks Shakespeare’s literature.  It was interesting to hear the tale from another character’s point of view.  When viewed and retold by another person it creates an entirely different story.  I thought that Lisa Klein did a wonderful job writing as if she were Ophelia.  I was drawn in to the personality of a young girl, then the struggling young lady blinded by love, and finally the distraught woman her strenuous life caused her to become.

I would recommend Ophelia to anyone in grade eight or above, due to some of the content and the complexity of the plot.  It is very well written, especially the dialogue.  I loved the way it reminded me of Shakespearean literature, yet avoided the lengthy and flowery descriptions that Shakespeare was so fond of.  It is easily read as a novel, and has a wonderfully dark and murderous plot, as you would know if you have read Hamlet.

I think that Ophelia deserves a full five stars.


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