Umberto Tosi’s New Book, Just Out

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November 1, 2014 · Posted in Commentary 

Ophelia_Rising_COVER_3D image   OPHELIA Rising by Umberto Tosi is  a NEW NOVEL BY THE Author of Our Own Kind, which is running in this issue of Boryanabooks.

What if Ophelia had survived and lived to tell her story. That’s what this novel is about. This picaresque, historical novel is a lively re-imagining of the fair Ophelia’s life before and after Hamlet. In the novel’s alternative world, she hasn’t drowned after all. She was fished out downstream from where she fell by that those traveling players who – at Hamlet’s urging – had caught the conscience of the King Claudius, and now were fleeing his royal wrath fast as their carnival wagons could carry them out of Denmark.

Thus begins young Ophelia’s great adventure – a new life thrust upon her, while her mind and broken heart are on the mend – as player and fugitive, lover and warrior, mother and poet, seeker and survivor. Moving from town to town, across war torn, 16th century Europe with her performing troupe, she plays many roles and encounters a cast of vividly drawn characters, including some of the most powerful, audacious, Machiavellian, prophetic and creative figures of the late Renaissance – real and fictional. Inevitably, Ophelia crosses paths with Horatio – now the author of a book chronicling his late Prince Hamlet’s tragedy – and a diplomat and spy for the ruthless, newly crowned Norwegian-Danish King Fortinbras.

With a nod to the Bard, the Melancholy Dane’s ghost shows up as well, along with Barnardo, Marcellus and other characters from the play. Ophelia comes into herself in the liberating company of the players – particularly their two bickering principals, Isabella and Carlo. No nunnery for her. She struggles through adversity to find new loves, new passions and she fashions herself into someone to be reckoned with. Now she must decide which path her new life will take. Perils abound – bloody religious conflicts, assassinations, persecution, disease, palace plots, pirates. There are those who want her dead.

The novel is steeped in meticulously researched, authentic details conveying the events, look and feel of its period. One experiences the vistas, texture, smells, colors, customs, attitudes, fashions, foods, arts, politics, weaponry, rituals, beliefs and diversions of Ophelia’s times, particularly in the worlds of theater, the church, the emergent merchant class, printing, art and ruthless, all-powerful royal houses. The swiftly moving narrative remains consistent with Shakespeare’s tragedy throughout, flashing back to Ophelia’s motherless childhood, as well as weaving a credible story of the play’s aftermath. The ebook edition of “Ophelia Rising” will be published in November, 2014, followed by a print edition in the spring of 2015, by Light Fantastic Books.


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