The Fool's Girl by Celia Rees
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on August 1, 2010
Genres: Historical Fiction, Retellings, Romance
Length: 297 pages Source: Borders
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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.
Although tedious and slightly scattered, The Fool’s Girl is yet another retelling of an old, beloved fairytale… except this one doesn’t trail as far back as Hansel and Gretel or Jack and the Beanstalk – hailing from Elizabethan England, Twelfth Night is comedy, tragedy, drama, and resolution. I found Rees’ style frustrating – there are characters presented as important who ultimately show no purpose at all (I am thinking of Tod, here), and there is a great deal of talk and travel, what I generally refer to as “filler”. It grew tedious. The important plot points felt so few and far between that they got lost and I was distracted from them.
Anyone familiar with Shakespeare will appreciate the references to many of his other plays beside Twelfth Night. Off the top of my head, I can think of four: Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, and Richard III. In that way, it was charming to see the crossovers and where Rees revealed Shakespeare’s inspiration. In many ways, Shakespeare’s story in this book is much more interesting than Violetta’s.
A certain level of appreciation for Shakespeare is required to enjoy this book on any level, and I would not recommend it to the people who have a difficult time relating to Shakespeare or to his work.