Unfinished Friday is a new meme over at The Boston Bibliophile--an opportunity for bloggers to share those books that, for whatever reason, we opted not to finish.
I was so sure that I was going to like Lady Macbeth's Daughter that I agreed to accept a copy for a Traveling to Teens review. I loved the idea of rewriting Shakespeare's Macbeth from the point of view of a lost daughter, raised by the infamous witches of Double-double-boil-and-trouble fame. Author Lisa Klein has a PhD in English Renaissance literature, so presumably the Macbeth angle wasn't just a clever hook. Her Ophelia, based on Shakespeare's Hamlet, was well-received.
As I started reading, my hopes remained high. Lisa Klein's writing has a nice flow, Albia and the other characters were multi-dimensional, and she set up the atmosphere of the setting so well.
Maybe too well.
MacBeth has always been Shakespeare's most depressing play to me, with its ominous prophesies, its corruption, its queen forever trying to wash the guilt off her hands. And, much like the way I can't enjoy a book after having seen the movie, knowing where things were supposed to be heading kept me from engaging with the original aspects of the story. Then there was Albia's "second sight." Mysticism is an important part of Shakespeare's play, so it needed to be in the novel, but it's generally not my cup of tea and in this case it made it hard for me to relate to the protagonist.
Every time I picked up the book, I felt bogged down in the darkness of Albia MacBeth's world. I gave myself permission to put it down once and for all on page 75, when I found myself dreading my reading time because it took me to a place I didn't want to go.
My conclusion? Klein accomplished exactly what she set out to do: convincingly recreate eleventh-century Scotland, and add another perspective to the famous Shakespeare tale that will bring young adults to an understanding beyond required reading. The Compulsive Reader, The Dreamer Reader, and Sarah's Random Musings loved it. It just wasn't for me.