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The Fool's Girl [Kindle Edition]

Celia Rees
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up–This imaginative continuation of the story of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night focuses on some of the darker and more serious elements of the play and develops them into an original story. Violetta, the daughter of Viola and Orsino, is in exile from Illyria because Sebastian, her mother's brother, has conspired with neighboring Venice to overthrow her father and seize power. She has been protected by the fool Feste, and together the two go to England to recover a precious holy relic that is a national symbol for Illyria. There they meet William Shakespeare, who becomes embroiled with them in political and religious intrigue involving Malvolio, a Jesuit operative secretly arranging to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I. Events reach a climax during a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream at a country manor in Stratford on Avon. The book is at its strongest when relating the doings of Shakespeare and other figures of the time, including Richard Burbage, Dr. Simon Forman, and Sir Robert Cecil. Rees's research is impeccable, and the details she includes about daily life and play performance in Elizabethan England are fascinating. The portions of the book set in Illyria do not seem as believable, and not just because of the fantasy and witchcraft elements. This would be an interesting read for a class studying Twelfth Night, as familiarity with the play would help readers understand some of this novel's plot elements.Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Conceived as both a sequel to and the inspiration for Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, this romantic drama brings Violetta, the teenaged daughter of the murdered Duke and Duchess of Illyria, to Elizabethan London in search of an important religious relic stolen by the wicked Malvolio. Accompanied and protected by the capable if moody Fool Feste, Violetta also enlists the middle-aged Shakespeare—sympathetically cast here as a hardworking artist lonely for his loving wife and family—in her quest. Shakespearean-style complications ensue, driven both by the entrance of Violetta's cousin, lifelong love, and possible betrayer, Stephano, and also the revelation that Malvolio is involved in a Catholic plot to assassinate the Queen. Expertly livening the proceedings with intrigues, japes, kisses, mildly bawdy comments (“the young are apt to be betrayed by their hearts, and other parts”), colorful characters, plot twists, quick violence, and an occasional breath of the supernatural, Rees dishes up a quick-paced tale that builds to a suspenseful climax. Just the ticket for fans of Lisa Klein's Lady Macbeth's Daughter (2009) and the plethora of similar Shakespearean sallies. Grades 8-11. --John Peters

Product Details

  • File Size: 448 KB
  • Print Length: 305 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1599904861
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; 1 edition (August 1, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #598,292 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the fools girl August 6, 2010
Celia Rees is a subtle writer.She never lets her extensive research get in the way of an exciting story. Violetta has an almost overwhelming task but she grows into a realisation that the men she meets can only give her limited assistance, quite often reluctantly as they know what forces are ranged against her.What a great introduction to Shakespeare for any young adult who has not had the chance to enter his fascinating world.This book stands alone - you don't have to have read or seen 'Twelfth Night' to enjoy this novel but it will make the inquisitive reader want to know more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Twelfth Night was the first Shakespeare play I ever saw, and it remains my very favorite. I was in seventh grade and had been nervous about my own capacity to understand Shakespeare's language. But as soon as the local university production of the comedy began, I was instantly hooked by the romance, the humor, the mistaken identities --- and, yes, by the language, too. The quick-witted Viola, the pompous Malvolio with his ridiculous yellow stockings, the boisterous Sir Toby Belch, and the surprisingly complicated Fool, Feste, all combined to make me fall in love with the Bard.

And apparently I'm not alone in my affection for Twelfth Night. Popular author Celia Rees has used the play as the inspiration for her new novel, THE FOOL'S GIRL, providing in her typically detailed, well-researched style both a sequel of sorts to the play and a dramatic explanation of how and why Shakespeare chose to dramatize this story.

Short version of Shakespeare's play: Shipwreck victim Viola washes ashore, disguises herself as a boy to gain entry to the court of Duke Orsino, who pines for the countess Olivia even as Viola secretly longs for Orsino himself. When he sends the disguised Viola to plight his troth, Olivia falls for the young messenger instead. Much confusion ensues, but ultimately Orsino and Viola are wed, as are Olivia and Viola's long-lost twin brother, Sebastian.

In Rees's novel, Illyria, where Twelfth Night is set, is a real place, known primarily for its possession of a holy relic, the container in which one of the Magi brought a gift to the infant Jesus.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A class writer August 6, 2010
Celia Rees always writes interesting and original stories, and the Fool's Girl is no exception. I find her stories involving, detailed, dramatic and intense, and she manages to make even 'history' interesting. Ms Rees can take a fairly simple story and somehow add a kind of 'depth' to it. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good story that is well written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark and intriguing take on "Twelfth Night" August 5, 2010
`The Fool's Girl' is a dark take on Shakespeare's `Twelfth Night'. It's told in a number of different voices, and begins with Violetta, Viola's daughter, describing the sack of her city by Venetian and Uskok pirates led by none other than her own uncle Sebastian.

Celia Rees explores the currents of cruelty, melancholy and madness flowing under the play's lyrical surface sparkle, and weaves a fast moving story in which Violetta has to flee Illyria with Feste the fool as her companion. Arriving in London she finds other Illyrian refugees: Sir Toby Belch on his toper's deathbed; the raddled Maria still his faithful carer. Violetta has come to London for one purpose - to reclaim a sacred relic stolen by Malvolio from the Illyrian cathedral. But she's in constant danger from the powers now ruling Illyria, and she's going to need all the help Master Shakespeare can provide. In turn, as Will Shakespeare learns her history, he garners wonderful material for a new play - Twelfth Night - in which he will transform the iron and lead of real life into glittering gold.

I thought this was a brilliant novel, and a great exploration of Shakespeare's play by a writer who clearly knows plenty about Elizabethan England. The world of `The Fool's Girl' is darker and more dangerous than the world of `Twelfth Night': this is the `real' historical England in which severed heads sit on spikes along London Bridge, while Sir Robert Cecil plays European power politics (and tries to make Shakespeare his pawn). At the same time there's magic in the book, the sort of magic Elizabethans believed in: and hints of an older world, of the worship of Hecate, and of fairies in the Warwickshire woods...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever, intriguing, exhilarating August 6, 2010
THE FOOL'S GIRL has all the ingredients readers will expect from Celia Rees - vividly-drawn settings, an intriguing plot with plenty of twists and turns, a spirited heroine, a story that is full of pace but never rushed. It's a brilliant idea to imagine Shakespeare's meeting with Violetta and Feste, and to conjecture how TWELFTH NIGHT might have developed from the ingredients he's given. There is usually darkness at the heart of comedy, and that's particularly true of TWELFTH NIGHT, with the tragic figure of Malvolio left brooding and resentful at the end. That bitterness is the trigger for the events depicted here - his long-held grudge, and its implications for Violetta, the daughter of Shakespeare's Viola. It's a story of great appeal, particularly (but not only) for those readers who know TWELFTH NIGHT. I wonder if Celia Rees is planning "prequels" or companion pieces to other Shakespeare plays? The possibilities are exhilarating.
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More About the Author

Celia Rees was born in Solihull, West Midlands, UK. She studied History and Politics at Warwick University and then went on to teach English in city comprehensive schools for seventeen years. She now divides her time between writing, talking to readers in schools and libraries, and teaching creative writing.

She has written many books for older children and teenagers, and has become a leading writer for Young Adults with an international reputation. Her books have been translated into 28 languages and she has been short listed for the Guardian, Whitbread and W.H. Smith Children's Book Awards, as well as numerous regional awards in the UK and America. Witch Child won the prestigious Prix Sorcières in France in 2003, and the Di Cento Prize in Italy, 2001. Her latest book, The Fool's Girl, publishes in the U.S. in July, 2010

Celia lives in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, with her husband, Terry. Her daughter, Catrin, now lives and works in London.

To learn more about Celia and her books, visit her website at:

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