Saturday, June 4, 2011
"Aphrodite's Blessings; Love Stories From the Greek Myths" by Clemence McLaren
"If I were racing against someone as handsome as Milanion," Filomena said, "I'd let him win... by just a little." She gestured with thumb and index finger.
Atalanta, princess, has been brought up to be an athlete. When her father and his advisers decide, however, that she must get married, she is terrified. The fate of married women is clear- to be kept inside all the time, except with their husband.
But it gets worse.
Her father decrees that if any man can win a race against Atalanta, they will be her husband, and rule over Arcadia. But if they lose? Death.
Atalanta doesn't want the men to die... But which is worse? To marry away your life... Or to destroy someone else's?
Everyone knows not to boast too much. Say the wrong thing, and the gods will punish you thoroughly.
Maybe not everyone.
Andromeda's mother is beautiful... And boastful. When she says that she and her daughter are more beautiful than all the daughters of Poseidon, everyone is worried, except for her. Andromeda is engaged to a wealthy (if short and old) man, she's still beautiful, and the gods never really pay attention to mortals... do they?
But, if the myths are true, and the queen is wrong... How are they to be punished?
Psyche has been gifted with amazing beauty, but it seems like it won't do her any good. When a message from a god comes, however, telling Psyche's family to wed her to a mysterious "Lord of the Hidden Valley", Psyche is hopeful.
But even when all seems well, trouble comes in the form of a jealous sister. When Psyche unknowingly ruins her happiness, how far is she willing to go to get it, and the man she loves, back?
Everyone admired my courage, yet it wasn't really courage. I simply wasn't as frightened as they expected me to be. I was actually relieved that I would not have to look at my father's solemn face, or listen to my sisters whispering about me any longer. Even in a wealthy family, an unmarried girl is a burden, because of the shame she brings. I was ready to remove that burden.
I quite liked this book. Greek myths fascinate me (heck, all myths fascinate me), and it was interesting seeing them written out in this way, from the girl's point of view. I found a lot of them to be much more emotional this way, and the characters were interesting.
However. The problem I had with this book was mostly about the last story, of Psyche. I like the story, but I did not like how things just seemed to happen in her favor, with no explanation. I know this isn't the author's fault, but what I do credit the author with is saying something along the lines of "I wouldn't know why until later", and then just not explaining it after all.
Besides that, though, I did like this book, and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes the stories anyway.