Ophelia was not meant to be the rowdy daughter of a peasant forever. At the end of her first decade, she is transformed into a lady of the queen's court. As a woman, she is simply expected to "aim to please: first, the queen she serves, and second, the man she will marry." But what if the latter is prince of Denmark? And is it truly 'simple' to please the queen and the rest of the catty court? Being controversially clever and of lovely countenance prove to be a mixed bag: her attributes both scurry her along a path to happiness and grind her into the dirt (once, literally).
One morning, after her family (consisting only of a father and brother) has been invited to live at the castle in exchange for her father's services to the king, Ophelia is sent to a different part of the castle to become a poised lady of court. As difficult and fickle as her duties are, she succeeds in many areas: becoming Queen Gertrude's favorite, defending herself admirably against a fellow lady-in-waiting's empty insults, earning love from the strict yet grandmotherly Lady Elnora Valdemar, and secretly winning the heart of Prince Hamlet.
But as swiftly as the wheel of Fortune brings Ophelia to the top, it crushes her to the bottom, bringing the well-being of the castle, Elsinore, along to the depths of despair. For after King Hamlet, father of Ophelia's secret love, is murdered in the garden, everything tumbles to ruins. Queen Gertrude remarries to Claudius, brother of the late king and (as Prince Hamlet thinks) his killer. With Claudius as king, rumors and wicked words spread... leaving no one safe. All that Ophelia knows and loves is dashed away from her... except for one dangerous but hopeful secret that she shields from all the treachery about her. Will this be the end of the young lady Ophelia's days of frolick and freedom?
Klein rewrites Shakespeare's play, Ophelia, with a vast aura of feminism, coming-of-age and strength of thought. With paraphrased sentences as golden as Ophelia's curly locks, this novel embraces Shakespearean ideas and wit, forming a critically analyzed story about the tumultuous life of a brilliant Danish lady of court.
Review by A.