Review: The Fool’s Girl

Review: The Fool’s GirlThe Fool's Girl by Celia Rees
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on July 20, 2010
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Historical, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 297
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

Young and beautiful Violetta may be of royal blood, but her kingdom is in shambles when she arrives in London on a mysterious mission. Her journey has been long and her adventures many, but it is not until she meets the playwright William Shakespeare that she gets to tell the entire story from beginning to end.

Violetta and her comic companion, Feste, have come in search of an ancient holy relic that the evil Malvolio has stolen from their kingdom. But where will their remarkable quest--and their most unusual story--lead? In classic Celia Rees style, it is an engrossing journey, full of political intrigue, danger, and romance.

This wholly original story is spun from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, and includes both folly and suspense that would make the Bard proud.

Brief Summary:
Celia Rees picks up where Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night (my personal favorite) left off. The main character of The Fool’s Girl is Viola’s daughter, Violetta, who travels with Feste. After a coup in her home country of Illyria, Violetta and Feste escape to England, where they actually encounter Shakespeare. Violetta tells him her mother’s story and her own in an effort to enlist his help to regain her rightful place in Illyria. Romance and drama abound in this sequel to Twelfth Night.

While I do not necessarily agree with all of the decisions Rees made in her composition of this novel, I do think her interpretation was incredibly interesting. Her analysis of the hasty marriages between Viola & Orsino and Olivia & Stephano at the end of the play certainly seems spot on to me. Her use of Malvolio and Sir Andrew Agueface as harsh villains I have more trouble accepting. As I know the play so well, I have trouble picturing Malvolio without cross-gartered with yellow stockings and Sir Andrew as capable of using a sword.

Rees does a good job creating some of the atmosphere of the play and its characters (Feste in particular is spot on). The book is definitely less comedic though, so do not expect it to be just the same. Rees conveys the spirit of the time fairly accurately in most instances, although sometimes I wish she had not; I have trouble escaping my silly modern sensibilities, which feel that first cousins should in no instance have a romantic relationship (Oh wait, they’re not silly: hemophilia). Cousins aside, this book is a great choice for any Shakespeare fans. I think Rees tackles of writing a sequel to the bard without being overly silly or overly pedantic. Check this one out, thou of good taste!

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