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Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray

Ophelia never meant for things to get so out of hand, but maybe that’s just what happens when you’re a girl in her position: Prince Hamlet of Denmark’s girlfriend. As the daughter of an important member of the royal staff, Ophelia grew up in the castle alongside Hamlet, though it wasn’t until more recent years that their close friendship turned into something more. Ophelia would be the first to admit that dating royalty is tough. Not only are they followed around by the paparazzi everywhere they go, but Ophelia has to deal with all of Hamlet’s family drama in addition to her own as well as all the other types of unwanted attention garnered by Hamlet’s fame. Ophelia thinks she is willing to put up with all of this for the sake of her relationship, but she doesn’t take into account how things could go so quickly from bad to worse. When Hamlet’s father dies under mysterious circumstances and his mother quickly remarries his uncle, of all people, Hamlet descends into a sort of madness, taking an unsuspecting Ophelia with him. Hamlet’s had the chance to tell his story, but now it’s Ophelia’s turn—and she’ll reveal what really happened.

I love all manner of retellings, whether they are only loosely based on the original story or follow it quite closely. Ray’s debut novel Falling for Hamlet is of the latter example and sticks quite close to the original plot of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, though in a more modern setting and with a few embellishments and twists. I was primarily interested in this story because I wanted to see the story from Ophelia’s perspective; she is a rather perplexing character in the original play, and I know I’m certainly not the only reader who has wondered if there’s more to her story. Ray really plays off this dynamic to create her modern Ophelia, a girl who is torn between her strongest loyalties, to her family, to the royal family, to her boyfriend, and to herself. I think Ray did a fantastic job of portraying and strengthening Ophelia’s character, but for me, she wasn’t entirely successful in translating the original Hamlet to the modern day. Some of the dialogue felt rather stilted and formal, especially the closer it came to the original Shakespearean language, and I didn’t really like how Hamlet’s soliloquies, which are lengthy in the play, were generally summed into a few awkward sentences. With that in mind, though, I acknowledge taking on Shakespeare is no small feat, so Falling for Hamlet was certainly an ambitious project.

Falling for Hamlet is an enjoyable read that will certainly be appreciated by anyone who has read Shakespeare’s Hamlet, as well as by fans of Tighter by Adele Griffin, Abandon by Meg Cabot, and The Juliet Spell by Dougles Rees.

Rating: 3.75

Review copy from publisher Little, Brown

1 munch(es) :

Nicole said...

I loved Falling for Hamlet - but really, I love all things Hamlet!

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