Saturday, 15 December 2012
Falling for Hamlet - Michelle Ray
Falling for Hamlet - Michelle Ray
Rating: 4/5 stars
Sometimes love can make you crazy.
Meet Ophelia, high school senior, daughter of the Danish king's most trusted adviser, and longtime girlfriend of Prince Hamlet. She lives a glamorous life and has a royal social circle, and her beautiful face is splashed across magazines and television screens. But it comes with a price--her life is ruled not only by Hamlet's fame and his overbearing royal family but also by the paparazzi who hound them wherever they go.
After the sudden and suspicious death of his father, the king, Hamlet spirals dangerously toward madness, and Ophelia finds herself torn, with no one to turn to. All Ophelia wants is to live a normal life. But when you date a prince, you have to play your part. (Description from Goodreads)
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We've all heard of the Shakespearian play Hamlet, the tragedy where everyone dies. But what happens when one of the main player in the story doesn't die? Add to that a modern day setting with guns, surveillance cameras, talk shows and police interrogations and you have 'Falling for Hamlet' - And what an amazing story it was.
Being someone who has studied Hamlet many times, I was really interested to see how different the story was going to be from the play. Apart from the obvious deviation we're told at the start, the book really does follow events almost exactly like the play: ghost sightings, death, craziness, performances, tragedy - but most importantly the setting; it was one of my favourite parts of the story. We are still focusing on Denmark's Royals and I really like that this part of the story didn't change. It wouldn't have been Hamlet, if he wasn't the Prince of Denmark. Of course, things were a little different. Most obvious was the increase in technology. It's easy to broadcast madness when a thousand cameras are focused on your every move, but it also made the biggest twist of all more possible - Ophelia's survival. I spent most of the book wondering how she would escape being yet another body on the royal tally. The urge to flip to the end is strong, but don't do it - it's better to let the ending come to you!
Ophelia is the daughter of the royal family's more trusted advisor. Born and raised in a glamorous and over exposed lifestyle, she's never known a life outside castles, fame, fortune and the constant knowledge that she's in the public eye. I found modern Ophelia to be a bit of a strange character. The original blurb I read made it sound like Ophelia, while trying to gain a normal life somewhere in the madness of dating royalty, was going to capitalise on the fame to make her life more bearable. I guess this was the case, but not the way I was expecting it. Ophelia spends much of the book torn between wanting to be with Hamlet, the only person she's ever loved despite his responsibilities as the Prince of Denmark; and wanting to escape it all but not knowing how. I'll admit there were times when I was angry at her for this. She spent so much time thinking about escaping the pressures of a famous life, but never actually left. But she was definitely an interesting and entertaining narrator and I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened next. She proves she's more than just the Prince's famous girlfriend.
I really enjoyed the way the story was told. We see the events in three different ways. The first being from the present as Ophelia discusses what happened during a popular talk show program. The brief glimpse of Ophelia's life through photos prompts the direction the chapter will be going in. This is the second way the story is told; a first person recount of events by Ophelia without the idea that she's talking to the public, just to the reader. And finally, the one that made me stop and think; a transcript from Ophelia's police interrogation after she's accused of treason for being the only survivor. I can't say I saw that coming, but it was an interesting twist. All three engaging scenes made you want more, I loved it.
What I was looking forward to most in this story was actually seeing Ophelia and Hamlet's relationship. Having studied the play, I knew they had a tough relationship, struggling to be together and left broken by the lies, betrayals and deaths that seemed to follow both characters. While I knew how to story was supposed to end, part of me really wanted more twists to pop up involving their romance. I wanted them to have a chance to reconcile. I loved seeing their past, how happy they were together and it killed me to see them pulled apart by Hamlet's madness and Ophelia's willingness to go along with Claudius and Gertrude's schemes. Ophelia disappointed me a bit with her romance, as she forms a bond with one of her school friends. Her dedication to Hamlet falters towards the end, for obvious reasons, despite how often she claimed she loved Hamlet. I can't say I blame her for seeking a life outside her current destructive one, but I really wanted her with Hamlet. I guess I'm just a sucker for tragic love.
I really enjoyed this retelling. It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through - even though I already had an idea how the story would end. I can see myself looking out for more Shakespeare retellings in the future.
(Originally posted on Goodreads)