Morrow, Feb 2009, $25.95
In 1288, King Lear of Britain decides to divide his kingdom into three monarchies run by each of his daughters. Who inherits what will be determined by Lear based on whom he perceives loves him the most. His best friend and most loyal subject the Earl of Kent warns him he is acting the fool with this proposition; for his honesty he is exiled from the nation.
His eldest daughters Goneril and Regan constantly flatter him and tell him how much each loves him; their ducal spouses also go out of their way to cajole their father-in-law. His youngest child unmarried with suitors Princess Cordelia refuses to sweet-talk her dad with blatant lies; instead she is honest and sincere with him refusing to exaggerate her love. Irate with Cordelia, Lear leaves her nothing; instead he splits the kingdom between Goneril and Regan. However, as King Lear descends into madness, his decision leads to murder and war.
Paying homage in a cheeky way to the Bard, Christopher Moore’s take on the classic King Lear play is a brilliant mix of bawdry bedroom-bathroom comedy with a tragic novel in five acts. The story is told by the one person who knows everything that is going on because as the FOOL everyone except the apprentice FOOL Drool assumes subconsciously that Pocket is too stupid to understand court intrigue by the royals and the retinue. Well written and entertaining, Mr. Moore captures the essence of Lear in this fine rendition that is summed up by mentioning the rationale for having a ghost is simply “there’s always a bloody ghost”.