Thursday, February 4, 2010

Book Review: Lady Macbeth's Daughter by Lisa Klein

Title: Lady Macbeth's Daughter

Author: Lisa Klein

Pages: 291

Received from: author


The daughter Macbeth might have had, if Shakespeare had thought to create her.

Albia has grown up with no knowledge of her mother of her father, the powerful Macbeth. Instead she knows the dark lure of the Wychelm Wood and the moors, where she's been raised by three strange sisters. It's only when the ambitious Macbeth seeks out the sisters to foretell his fate that Albia's life becomes tangled with the man who leaves nothing but bloodshed in his wake. She even falls in love with Fleance, Macbeth's rival for the throne. Yet when Albia learns that she has the second sight, she must decide whether to ignore the terrible future she foresees - or to change it. Will she be able to save the man she loves from her murderous father? And can she forgive her parents their wrongs, or must she destroy them to save Scotland from tyranny?

In her highly anticipated follow-up to Ophelia, Lisa Klein delivers a powerful reimagining of Shakespeare's Macbeth, featuring a young woman so seamlessly drawn it seems impossible she was not part of the Bard's original play.

I picked up Lady Macbeth's Daughter with some purdy high expectations. Not only am I a huge Shakespeare nerd, but I had read and loved Klein's previous novel Ophelia. And, for the most part, it didn't disapoint. If anything, it exceded my expectations. The writing and tone was both apporpriate and enthralling (without coming off as a bad fan fiction), and the characters were just lovely. Klein does a suberb job weaving her own character in the story arc of Macbeth and even her existance was explained with enough reason that I was left thinking it might--might--have been canon.

Much of it is told through two alternating viewpoints--Albia from her childhood onward, and a surprisingly young Lady Macbeth as she copes with the grief of miscarriages and the loss of her only daughter (which would be Albia). This contrast in viewpoints--two girls, one naive to the politics and origin of her lineage, and the other all too aware of it--was the part that stood out the most to me. In Macbeth, in most of Shakespeare's plays in fact, its never mentioned how young women are when they're made to marry and have children. Maybe cuz this wasn't that big a deal at the time, but it's definetly a fascinating aspect of Elizabethean age that came off well in Lady Macbeth's Daughter.

Many may argue, but in this reader's opinion Albia does much to enhance the original story, at least as far as characters wise. A more human aspect is added to the three witches and Banquo because of Albia's narrative. Again, theres the classic innocence in her perspective that slowly edges into realization, and might I say I loved her plot to kill her own father? That's dramz right there, my friends.

Unfortunatly, the romance kind of dampened the story for me. And, I mean, srsly, it wasn't even that much of a romance for me. Fleance was a great guy, he was, but him and Albia just didn't work well together. It was all so high school if you know what I mean. Nothing ever developed past "I think I love you" "I think I love you to" "Watch as I quiver my lips in restraint because I think I love you so much!" It was like...shit. In a time where girls had babys at thirteen, you'd think these sort of things would be sped up a jiffy.

The dialogue, I thought, was great for the most part but, again, there were some slip ups where Klein might have gotten her time periods mixed up. Then again, I can't say I'm an expert, so who knows? She might have plucked the shit right from Shakepeare's notebook.

All around, Lady Macbeth's Daughter was an excellant addition to the many enterpretations of Macbeth, and Lisa Klein is for sure someone to keep on your radar.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Also: some notable Macbeth adaptions are Enter Three Witches and, of course, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.


Jodie said...

I love revisionist literature so I'll be sure to keep this author on my radar, but I think I'll start with Ophelia. I have some pretty entrenched ideas about Macbeth, but I've always thought Ophelia got a pretty bad deal (although it's nothing compared to what Desdemona has to battle against).

Adele said...

I'd never come across this but it sounds fascinating.

Knighton said...

Not that I've read it, but isn't Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead based on Hamlet, not Macbeth?

I personally liked Ophelia much better than Lady Macbeth's Daughter. I did enjoy this book; I just enjoyed Ophelia more.

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