Hamlet by John Marsden

Published: 8th April 2013Goodreads badge
Bolinda Audio
Length: 5 hours
Format: Audio CD (4 Discs)
Narrator: Humphrey Bower
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Hamlet’s father has just died. By the time they’ve filled in the grave his mother has remarried. Hamlet suspects foul play, and it’s troubling his spirit. Or maybe he was always troubled. Ophelia is in love with him. His best friend Horatio can’t work him out. Then, on a cold, still night, Hamlet meets the ghost of his father…

John Marsden, one of Australia’s most-loved writers, takes Shakespeare’s famous play and turns it into a moving and full-blooded novel.

I have wanted to read this novelisation of Hamlet since it was first published and I am so incredibly happy that I was not disappointed. It exceeded my expectations (whatever they were) and it has made me wish that more of Shakespeare’s plays were given the Marsden novelisation treatment because I think they would be divine.

Whether it’s Marsden magic or just the fact that the novel could include more detail, but I had so much more sympathy for Hamlet listening to this than I ever did with the play. Marsden’s words really brings out Hamlet’s home life and his despair, yes, he is a dramatic idiot and you roll your eyes at him at the start, but through the rest of the story you see what his life is like, what he is like, and you really pity him and for the situation his father put him in and how it affects him.

The plot follows the play in terms of events, I did find myself waiting lines to be included that are so well known from the play, but Marsden doesn’t fall for cheap copying, the same elements are there, the same moments, but Marsden doesn’t reduce this novelisation to simply adding quotes from Shakespeare in it.

The tragedy is there, Horatio is amazing and I love him throughout. He is my absolute favourite character in this whole thing. The extension of the story allows more character depth I found, you really get a sense of not just Hamlet, but also Ophelia, Claudius and the rest. Claudius’ villainy is evident; Marsden shows us his thoughts and feelings, his desires and plans in detail that offers explanation and depth to his character. The same is true of Ophelia as her love for Hamlet is expressed through the thoughts and actions of a young woman discovering who she is and what she wants.

Marsden doesn’t update the play either, the same events are there, but they aren’t modernised or anything. Set in a time with swords and ships the locations are the same, and Marsden’s writing feels write for the era in which it is set. Not overly complex but not basic either, very poetic and melodic at times, very Shakespeare without being Shakespeare.

This was my first time listening to an audio book and it was a wonderfully absurd contrast listening to a novel which is based on a play, meaning that it was like a radio play of sorts, even though it is not written as such. Humphrey Bower as narrator did an excellent job and because you are so engrossed in the story it’s easy to follow as the voices change and you’re hardly aware that is just one person reading. I would easily call this my favourite adaptation of Hamlet and I would readily sit down and read, or listen, to it all over again.

You can purchase Hamlet via the following

Print book

AmazonBook Depository

Booktopia | QBD


Amazon Aust | Amazon

Booktopia | Book Depository





So it’s come to news, not that we don’t have news, we have a lot of news, and an update on my failure to deliver isn’t required but it is still sad. Server issues all week, a very hectic life, a wandering notebook and little sleep (like super little sleep), have put a damper on my plans of excitement sharing about the super awesome fun times I have been having, but rest assured I will be boasting! Not only do I have the continuing adventures of my Newcastle Writers Festival to get up where I was inspired and enthralled by the likes of Courtney Collins, Ryan O’Neill, Patrick Cullen, and so many more I could list them forever but I won’t, but I also got to meet one of my authorial heroes.

On Friday I was lucky enough to go to a talk by Australian author and personal idol, John Marsden and it was absolutely wonderful. I would like to think I behaved in a terribly adult manner when I got to meet him but I feel that would be a lie. As I stood in line with my pile of books ready to be signed I could feel my heart pounding and the realisation that the man who wrote Checkers, So Much To Tell You, Winter, and The Tomorrow Series was mere metres away was almost too much. I did have enough control to have a proper conversation with him, but I have witnesses that the before and after I was ‘fangirling’ (Googled it, seems to fit). I do not mind for one simple reason: for me John Marsden was, and is, the author who made me realise books have a lot of power over a reader, he can engage you with his words and with his stories, and in doing so he has the ability to twist everything you every thought about writing, about books, and even about the story you just read. I started reading his books at 13 and I haven’t stopped. I will talk more when I get the post up in a few days (*fingers crossed*), but it was truly one of the best moments I have had.

Then on Saturday the Sydney Writers Festival program was released after an excellent launch on Thursday night. I have already made my schedule and booked what needs to be booked. It is going to wonderful. Dates are 20-26 May, but there are events on before as well, all details are on their site.

Other news that is more pressing than news that is going to be gushed about later is the fact that Kerry Letheby’s blog tour began today over on Time 2 Blog. She will be providing Lost in a Good Book with a post on Friday and you can follow where the tour will be next and the find the other blogs here. Kerry might even drop by to answer any questions you may have as well. Her book is very good, it is suspenseful, mysterious, and very touching, a great read.

Reminder with the shameless self promotion, Lost in a Good Book has a Facebook page and a Twitter where you can get loads (maybe not loads), but a lot of book, reading, and other related things that don’t get put on the blog. So head on over there and click all the appropriate buttons to start finding all the goodies. I’m also on Goodreads if you wanted to check out other reviews that are not on here, always forget about my poor Goodreads despite the fact I live on it.

Also I was nominated for a second Liebster Award by the delightful Jess at The Never Ending Bookshelf! So that post will also be going up soon as well. So much time and so little to see post! Strike that, reverse it. (Woo, Willy Wonka for the funnies!)

Despite still being very much in April I do have secret news that I can reveal in May but that is all I am saying. Super secret news is for my ecstatic squeals and joy only for now, but your turn will come.

Ok! Well I think that is finally all the news, check out all the links and get excited about all the upcoming things, enjoy your remaining Monday night, and read something spectacular.