When Melbourne based 18 YO Taylor, finds herself in 1928 Berlin, she tries to stop the world heading into the second world war.
In 2017 Taylor and her grandfather, are exploring an old building in East Berlin once known as The Hummingbird Theatre and Restaurant. Taylor is angry with her two closest friends and frustrated by being advised not to apply to tertiary dance institutes. When she wanders into an unrenovated section, hit by a falling cornice piece, she regains consciousness in 1928…
Rom Lewinsky, the Hummingbird’s junior manager, takes her home to his impoverished family. The only way Taylor can survive is by dishwashing, clearing tables, sharing a tiny room with dancer Juliet, and eventually joining her dance troupe. Rom and Juliet are in love, but Juliet’s stepfather, a member of the growing Fascist party, refuses to give Juliet permission to marry a Jew…
Reviewed by Jan Bottcher
Goldie Alexander’s ability to bring the past, present and future to life is realised in her latest astute retellings of popular Shakespeare plays that will captivate secondary school students.
This trilogy consists of:
‘The Trytth Chronicles’ – The Tempest
‘Gap Year Nanny’ – Macbeth
‘Changing History?’ – Romeo and Juliet
‘The Trytth Chronicles’ uses ‘The Tempest’ as a springboard for spine chilling adventures in space. Prospero, and his young daughter Miranda have been banished to a deserted space-ship where the aliens, Ariel and Caliban live. When Miranda and her cousin Ferdie meet they immediately fall in the love. But wicked Caliban, seeking revenge on Prospero, sends the lovers to the distant planet of Trytth and puts their life in danger.
‘Changing History?’ Dance student Taylor is thrust back in time into the Weimar Republic – a period of political turmoil, violence and economic hardship but also one of new social freedoms and vibrant artistic movements. The seedy Hummingbird restaurant and dancehall provides a gritty background as Taylor tries to help a couple in love, and prevent WW2 and the Holocaust from happening.
In ‘Gap Year Nanny’ the major characters are as unpleasant as in the original play! Ambitious Stuart Macbeth is persuaded by three internet gurus into destroying his opponents and finally himself. Merri’s account of his rise and fall and her interaction with the Macbeth family provides an interesting counterpoint to her own growing maturity.
The concept behind these novels is to demonstrate how classic characters and plots can be transformed into stories young adults will find intriguing by morphing them into contemporary settings. This is not unfamiliar territory as Goldie has already tackled the magical elements of ‘The Odyssey’ as a middle grade novel and a YA verse novel.
The Shakespeare Trilogy is a narrative introduction to the original plays with the intent that they become more accessible for students who find Shakespeare difficult. Students will be motivated to explore the plays and perhaps even write their own versions. Yet even without any previous knowledge of Shakespeare, these three novels provide enjoyable stories very suitable for YA readers.
Reviewed by Kate Constable
The indefatigable local author Goldie Alexander has produced three books based loosely on Shakespeare. I went to the launch and picked up this one, though I was strongly tempted to buy the anthology which contains all three volumes, including Gap Year Nanny (based on Macbeth) and The Trytth Chronicles, which transplants The Tempest to outer space!
Changing History? takes the eternal story of Romeo and Juliet to late 1920s Berlin. Eighteen year old Australian tourist Taylor is bopped on the head and time-slips from 2017 to 1928, where she finds a job at the Hummingbird nightclub, rubs shoulders with all kinds of louche Berlin types, and debates whether to share her knowledge of the future with her new friends, Jewish Rom and gentile Juliet, whose parents have forbidden them to marry. And when Taylor learns that a guy called Adolf Hitler is coming to town, she has a very big decision to make…
After lapping up the sumptuous series Babylon Berlin earlier this year, and now embarking on Ku’damm 56 (set in Berlin in the 1950s), I seem to be going through a Berlin phase. I especially enjoyed the period detail of Changing History? which cleverly drops plenty of historical information into the novel without overwhelming the human story. Taylor learns to appreciate her modern creature comforts, while picking up the political parallels with our own time. This book might even be more useful to students of modern history than those studying Shakespeare!
This novel is also available as an Anthology which contains all three books.