"Fate is established!" - or is it?


A Review of Lady Macbeth’s Daughter by Lisa Klein

Promised by the weird sisters that he would have many sons, Macbeth is ashamed when his wife bears him a daughter with a crippled leg. Rather than claim her as his own, he turns the baby out, order a man servant to kill her. Saved by her mother’s lady in waiting, the baby girl, Albia, is brought up by the same three weird sisters who later prophesize Macbeth’s fate. In her teens, she is fostered with Banquo and his wife and begins to develop mixed feelings for her foster brother Fleance, and she knows nothing of her parentage until one of the weird sisters, the one Ablia thought was her true mother, falls ill and confesses. Torn with the guilt of her parents’ sins, Ablia is determined to protect Fleance, whom Macbeth wishes dead, and restore goodness and order to Scotland , even if it means she must kill her father.

Lisa Klein retells the story of Shakespeare’s Macbeth from two alternating perspectives: Lady Macbeth and her daughter Albia. Some scenes and dialog are taken directly from the play itself, while most of the story takes places in background scenes as if attempting to explain what truly happened to drive Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to their ultimate outcomes.

Albia’s fierce character has such a strong and consistent voice, it is almost hard to remember, she is a character who does not even exist in the original play. The circumstances of her birth and her upbringing fit the setting and cultural background of the story, and her feisty spirit makes her a relatable character despite the historic setting. Her friendship with Colum, the shepherd, and later her relationship with Fleance are detailed and well thought out, adding a romantic element to the Shakespearean tragedy.

Grelach, Lady Macbeth, however is not as convincing. Her earlier chapters portray her as a young girl and victim of culture and circumstance, while also allowing her some motivation for disliking King Duncan (his father killed her grandfather and stole the throne from him). Her later chapters, as she descends into madness, are fraught with melodramatic diatribes and condescending attitudes towards everyone else. While realistic and true to the play, I often found myself compelled to skip Grelach’s chapters and wished the story was only told from Albia’s point of view.

The ending was also disappointing. Shakespeare’s play leaves much to the imagination about what will happen after Macbeth’s death, and where there was a lot of potential to bring the story to a close and add to the ending, Klein chooses to leave the ending ambiguous, thus lacking closure with certain key elements of Albia’s story.

Lady Macbeth's Daughter by Lisa Klein (ISBN: 9781599903477), 320 pages. Available October 2009 for $16.99, ages 12 and up

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