Those of you who have followed this blog for a while might have noticed that I’m a fan of Tracy Chevalier. One of the things that I like about her books is that they are so well written but also very varied which always has an element of surprise.
The latest book, New Boy, is part of a project where different authors have written new stories from Shakespeare’s many plays. Chevalier chose Othello. Even if I love Shakespeare, Othello is not one of my favourites, but I have never seen it performed on stage.
Chevalier has moved the story to the 1970’s at a school yard. The main characters are in their pre-teens when they still move easily between children’s games and the new interest in the opposite sex. Into this homogenious suburban school with white kids who have grown up together, arrives Osei – the son of a Ghanian diplomate.
The book was so easy to read, I plowed through the first few chapters without thinking. When the plot then started to thicken I thought: “no, I really don’t like Othello”. The ending however is so strong that I’ve had to change my mind. I do like Tracy Chevalier’s Othello very much and I think I need to go and see a theatre production of the play. Perhaps I misjudged this story many years ago.
In any case, well done Tracy Chevalier for pulling off transporting the story to its new setting the way she has done. It works brilliantly.