Summary: Since bursting on the scene in the 1950s, multiple award-winner John Updike has proved himself to be that rare species of American writer, the popular "man of letters.'' Sophisticated, provocative, and compellingly readable, his books and short stories are such consistent bestsellers that waiting for "the latest Updike'' has become something of a literary tradition.
In this, his nineteenth novel, Updike reinvents the characters of Queen Gertrude a ...show morend King Claudius of Denmark, the nefarious villains of Shakespeare's immortal tragedy Hamlet. Unfolding against the cruel, immutable traditions of medieval society, here is the untold story of a sweet and radiant young girl trapped in a loveless arranged marriage, who finally in middle age embarks on a passionate, perilous affair with her husband's younger brother. Capturing all the humanity of the lovers' impossible situation, Updike describes the agonizing dilemma of two essentially decent people whose desperate act of passion sets the stage for literature's most famous drama of revenge.