'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 26 August 2019

Review: Changing History

Goldie Alexander’s trilogy Shakespeare Now, gives a contemporary slant to three of Shakespeare’s plays, with which the characters in each novel are aligned. Each novel is a stand-alone read. The first, Changing History is adapted from Romeo and Juliet.

Eighteen year old Taylor travels to Berlin with her Opa to improve her language skills while visiting the places he talks about. During a guided tour, she slips and hits her head. She regains consciousness to find herself in Berlin, 1928. Rescued by the Jewish boy Rom, she is taken to his friend’s house. Her handbag, identification and money are missing.

Stuck in old Berlin, who would believe she has arrived here through a time warp? 

She must find work to survive at a time when the streets are filled with homeless people. Rom and his German girlfriend Juliet - star-crossed lovers with no hope of being together - help Taylor secure temporary lodging and a job.

Berlin life is a nesting place for artists and musicians, writers and freedom of every kind. Women are considered a commodity to be used and discarded. The rich are the only survivors in an unstable economy while the poor struggle on a daily basis. This experience changes Taylor’s perceptions and beliefs. Will she ever get back home?

Readers get an intimate and detailed view of Berlin – lifestyles, debauchery, anti-Semitism, and Hitler’s plans for Germany. Filled with an impressive amount of historical information, the story is told in a back and forth narrative that flows, regardless of time-shifts, from Berlin, 1928, to Melbourne, 2017. Teachers Notes are included with a précis of the original story in each novel.

In Gap Year Nanny, adapted from Macbeth, we see corruption, lust for power, and dissipation which accompany the betrayal, ruin and death of loved ones.

While Merri is on holiday in Europe, her belongings are stolen at the backpacker’s hostel. To repay the debt incurred for her return home, she becomes nanny to the three children of the very rich Lorna and Stuart.

Lorna is obsessed with money and status. In order to increase their income, she manipulates Stuart into taking advice from three company gurus that communicate through a TV screen. 

Stuart loses control of his life to them, deteriorates physically and emotionally, and then falls apart after playing a decisive role in the destruction and death of his best friend. His end is expected.

Meanwhile, Merri, obsessed with Stuart, is struggling with her conflicting sexuality after breaking-up with girlfriend Mica. Totally responsible for the children and as a constant observer of their parents’ detachment, growth, change and maturity is inevitable in an ever-evolving Merri as she tries to make sense of her life and the role she’s participating in.

The Trytth Chronicles is adapted from The Tempest, one of Shakespeare’s final plays. This is cleverly converted to futuristic fantasy.

Alonso has overthrown his brother Prospero and taken control of the city of Naples that sits on Titan. Prospero, his daughter Miranda, Caliban, a vengeful and disfigured monster born on their spaceship, and the Trytth Ariel, have been away from their homes on a spaceship, for fifteen years.

Returning from his daughter’s wedding, Alonso’s starship is battered by meteors; a tempest engineered by Prospero. Forced to evacuate using four capsules, the seven occupants arrive through a tube connected to Prospero’s starship, landing in different areas.

Ferdie, Alonso’s son, arrives first. He meets Miranda, and they instantly fall in love. Here begins a love story intertwined with jealousy, corruption, planned revenge, retribution and absolution, and where all the characters go through trials and tribulations before a resolution is reached.

Written in a complex but easily followed storyline, it is set in a fantasy world of warring creatures and threats from amazing composite animals and natural elements, including the emotional turmoil of the characters.

An intelligent, knowledgeable writer and former teacher of Shakespeare, Alexander creates a riveting and imaginative read. Her trilogy is presented with depth and credence. This Shakespeare Now! trilogy also comes in an Anthology.

Discover more about Goldie's motivation on Rewriting Shakespeare, here.
Title:  Changing History
Author: Goldie Alexander
Publisher: Five Senses Publishers, $15.26
Publication Date: November 2018
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760322205; 9781760322212; 978160322229
For ages: 14+