Sunday, July 26, 2009

Book review: Lady Macbeth's Daughter by Lisa Klein

Lady Macbeth's Daughter by Lisa Klein (Published by Bloomsbury, October 13, 2009)

In this novel, set in 11th century Scotland, author Lisa Klein starts with the premise that Macbeth and his wife had a baby daughter, born with a deformed leg. Macbeth, in his anger that she was not the healthy son he longed for, left the infant to die. Lady Macbeth, not much more than a girl herself in a time when women had no power, was helpless to stop him, and grieves the death of her daughter as well as the subsequent pregnancies she loses, believing herself cursed. These losses shape her character and set the stage for the tragic events she later participates in.
What neither of them know, however, is that their baby daughter did not die. She was saved by Lady Macbeth's serving woman, Rhuven, who took her to live with her sisters in the Wychelm Wood. The sisters name the child Albia, and the little girl grows up believing one of the sisters to be her mother. The years pass by peacefully, until the year Albia turns fifteen and great turmoil comes to Scotland. King Duncan is murdered, and Albia is sent to live with a foster family - Banquo, his wife Breda, and their son Fleance. And there is turmoil inside Albia as well - she is confused by her feelings for the attractive but maddening Fleance, and she longs to know the identity of her father. When she learns the truth about her heritage - and that her birth parents murdered the king in order to seize the throne - she struggles with her feelings of revulsion at what her parents have done and determines that she must destroy them and bring peace and justice to Scotland.

Lady Macbeth's Daughter is a rather interesting and complex novel. It is mainly told from the point of view of Albia, although we also see some events from the point of view of Lady Macbeth. Her perspective, and the difficult life she lived, made her actions, wrong though they were, seem more understandable. Overall the story and the ending especially were rather thought-provoking, making me think a lot about the motivations of various characters, and wondering what happened afterwards. I would recommend this book to readers, young adult and older, who enjoy either historical fiction or unique retellings of Shakespeare's plays.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. This book looks interested. I loved MacBeth when I read it in English class.

Sara said...

Hmmm. I think I'll check this one out.

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