It’s definitively soup weather… the mornings are dark and chilly and frankly a salad for lunch is not so appealing anymore.
The first soup was butternut squash and carrots, nothing fancy, but velvety and warming. And I didn’t take any pictures, because… I don’t know, I forgot…
This time though I made an effort and even though I don’t have photos of the final results I have some of the ‘during’… does that count?
Most of my soup (unless I do the famous ‘everything at the bottom of the vegetable drawer’ soup) comes from this book:
To start off I went back to the old classic:
Who doesn’t like this one? No 3 calls it ‘white soup’… probably a strategy to ignore the fact it contains a moderate amount of vegetables. Denial.
It’s a harmless soup, that’s for sure.
The other ingredients are an onion (I was crying, couldn’t take a picture) and some chicken stock. That’s it. Easy peasy.
This week is rolling on in a haze… the sounds appeared muffles. After a loss like we’ve just experienced it’s weird to realise that actually no matter how great is the pain, life just goes on around you. It seems a little insensitive… but actually it should be comforting; like a stable ground after an earthquake .
Cooking, soup, even banana cake help a little. I feel that doing something concrete, and physical almost, helps a tad.
I had the last of the banana bread, sliced, toasted and smothered with Nutella. Zero guilt.
and here’s a poem about soup… just because… that’s how randomly my brain works these days…
I saw a famous man eating soup. I say he was lifting a fat broth Into his mouth with a spoon. His name was in the newspapers that day Spelled out in tall black headlines And thousands of people were talking about him.
When I saw him, He sat bending his head over a plate Putting soup in his mouth with a spoon.
Breaking all my rules here, which is always a liberating thing to do, and writing about poetry on a Saturday…
The Cheltenham Festival of Literature is still on and today I attended a poetry event: Anthony Anaxagorou… absolutely brilliant.
There is a really good article about his latest collection ‘After the Formalities’ here.
He read beautifully from it, his experience in the ‘spoken word’ world clear from his ‘performance’, and yet he was intimate and fragile and strong and real, genuine, honest.
This is the long poem that gives the collection its title… Stick with it, it’s worth it:
AFTER THE FORMALITIES, Anthony Anaxagorou
In 1481 the word ‘race’ first appears in Jacques de Brézé’s poem ‘The Hunt’. De Brézé uses the word to distinguish between different groups of dogs.
In that hard year grandparents arrived on a boat with a war behind them and a set of dog leads. Bullet holes in the sofa. Burst pillows. Split rabbits. Passports bound in fresh newspapers. Bomber planes. A dissenting priest. A moneybag sucking worry. On the boat grandmother anticipated England’s winters with the others. Black snow on gold streets. Grandfather grieved two dogs he’d left. Pedigrees. Bluebottles decaying at the base of their bowls. The dogs of England were different. The water though. Fine to drink.
In 1606 French diplomat Jean Nicot added the word ‘race’ to the dictionary drawing distinctions between different groups of people. Nicotine is named after him.
In London grandparents lived with only a radio. A lamp favouring the wall’s best side. Curtains drawn round. Byzantine icons placed on paraffin heaters. Arguing through whispers. Not wanting to expose tongues. Stories circulating. What neighbours do if they catch you saying “I’m afraid” in a language that sounds like charred furniture being dragged across a copper floor. Grandfather. Always. Blew smoke out the lip of his window. So too did his neighbour. Colourless plumes merging amorphous. The way it’s impossible to discern the brand of cigarette a single pile of ash derives from.
In his 1684 essay ‘A New Division of the Earth’ French physician François Bernier became the first popular classifier to put all humans into races using phenotypic characteristics.
Mother’s skin is the colour of vacations. Her hair bare-foot black. An island’s only runway. Reports of racist attacks. Father turns up the volume. Turns us down. Chews his pork. Stings the taste with beer. Tells mother to pass the pepper. There is never a please. He asks if she remembers the attack. The hospital. His nose. A Coca-Cola bottle picked from his skull. Yes. She mutters. The chase. Dirty bitch. How we’ll make you White. Aphrodite hard. Dirty dog trembling with the street light. Please God. Not tonight. The kids.
In 1775 J.F. Blumenbach claimed in his seminal essay ‘On the Natural Variety of Mankind’ that it was environment, not separate creations, which caused the variety in humans.
In the bathroom mirror I spat blood from my mouth. Quaver breath and suburban. My brother desperate to piss. Pulled the door open. Asking. What happened? I tried to fight and lost? Why? Because the island we come from is smaller than this. Their names are shorter. Pronounceable so they exist. Even after their noses break they still don’t hook like ours. Their sun is only half peeled. He lifted his top to show me two bruises. To remind me of something. How history found its own way of surviving. A dark wash mixed with the whites spinning round and around.
In the bathroom mirror my brother spat blood from his mouth. Souvla breath and home. Me. Desperate to piss. Pulling the door open. Asking. What happened? He tried to fight and lost? Why? Because the island we come from is larger than this. Here. We chew up too much of their language. Leave behind an alphabet of bones. We will never exist in their love songs. How many bruises does it take to make a single body? I left him. Surviving history. A dark wash mixed with the whites spinning round and around.
In 1859 British naturalist Charles Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.
If the house phone rings after midnight someone you know is dying. Breathing in ten black moons under a siren or belfry. From the wound in my uncle’s back leaked the first atlas. Blood escaping him like a phantom vaulting over the spiked gates of heaven. The knife. Half steel half drunk. The motive. Skin or prayer. We went to visit. In the window’s condensation his daughter wrote Daddy Don’t Die. On the water of her breath. That evening my father came home. One hand trumpet. The other wreath. All his fists the law.
In 1911 eugenicist Charles Davenport wrote in his seminal book, Heredity in Relation to Eugenics, “Two imbecile parents, whether related or not, have only imbecile offspring”.
She had the same colour hair as Jesus. Most boys smile after. When we were done I moved a blonde streak from my arm wondering how much of my body was still mine. I smelt of rain atop an old umbrella. My fingers a burnt factory. She asked if I was her first and when I said yes she smiled. Pulling the covers up whispering not to get too comfortable. How her father would be back. The bed now a continent. The duvet locking me to its borders. On the shelf a gollywog above her family portrait. Poised like a saint.
The 1943 famine of Bengal killed 4 million people. Churchill ordered food to be sent directly to British soldiers in Europe. On hearing the number of Bengalis who’d perished he asked, “Why hasn’t Gandhi died yet?”
Outside the KFC racists have always looked so sure to me. Like weathermen. Like fact. Driving his skull into mine like a belief. I saw how even evil can feel warm and smell good when close enough. A crowbar. Wedged against my throat. Slowly the lights began to wave. Chips by my feet. Black iron warming my skin so silently I could hear how suffering learns to soothe the jaws of antiquity. These men. Irrational as any God. And me. Emptying inside the promise of my oxygen tank.
“Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependants, who are for the most part the material of the future growth of the immigrant-descended population.” – Enoch Powell, 1968.
After the formalities of course I said London and of course he asked again. When I said Cyprus he leaned into his chair recalling a family holiday. The weather sublime. The people accommodating. Particularly towards the English. How it was a shame about the Turkish thing. And your parents. When did they enter here? In the late ’50s I replied. So before the Immigrants Act? Yes I said. Before. Well good for them. He said. Putting the lid on his pen. Closing his pad. Asking me to talk a bit more about my previous roles.
In 2001 philosopher Robert Bernasconi wrote “The construct of race was a way for white people to define those who they regarded as other.”
In those days I was required to fill out forms with multiple boxes. Some I left blank. My father would notice my omission. Filling in the white option with his black biro. I crossed it out. Telling him I’m going with ‘other’. My mother wearing the same sad skin as before said we are not White. The look he gave her was. Snatching the form from me. The same X dominating so much White. Let me tell you. Nobody in their right mind need make themselves such an obvious target. He affirmed.
My grandmother will die. Somewhere in her skeleton. White sheeted. Iodoform thick. Her mouth all beetle. My family will gather round her body. All fig. My mother will look for coins. Despite there being nothing for money to save. Another lady. Dying the same. Will goad our kind. Through thick tubes she’ll scorn. Her voice. A bluebottle’s hot wings. You’re all dogs. Foreigners. And dirty. Outnumber us even in dying. The nurse will apologise for the whole of history. Drawing the curtain. Mud is always the last thing to be thrown. A prayer reaching for the pride of an olive. Like a hint. To hold.
I love history. I cannot believe it when people say it’s boring or useless or ‘they hate it’… to me that stinks of bad teaching, not bad subject… I mean, how can you not be interested in ‘stories’? in people? in what happened to people? that’s what’s history is all about after all…
Currently I’m up to my neck in Richard III, my first Shakespearean history play… and that meant an accelerated and not particularly thorough foray into the whole War of the Roses and subsequent messy aftermath… oh boy. It’s a rather confusing affair. It doesn’t help AT ALL that so many characters in this play have the same bloody (literally in most cases) name!! C’mon William… two Richards, two Elizabeth, two,or three, can’t work it out Edwards… I’m seriously confused, not to mention that one is supposed to know who were the Lancastrians and who were the Yorkists. Nope. All I’m getting is a lot of plotting, cursing, and murders, that’s about it.
But I’m digressing, what I wanted to say was that I love a good historical novel and in recent years I have absolutely loved the ‘Shardlake’ series written by CJ Sansom. Stupendous. They way he manages to recreate the tudor period is second to none. You can actually SEE the places and the people he describes, magnificent. And accessible. All the books are LONG but they fly by and I’m genuinely sorry when I get to the last page, every time.
Matthew Shardlake is a lawyer (and you learn so much about how things are run in those days, in a non boring way) and he seems always to find himself into some sort of trouble/misadventure/helping out people/solving crimes… If you’re interested here are the titles in order; it helps to get to know the character and to place the events in proper chronological order: Dissolution, Dark Fire, Sovereign, Revelation, Heartstone, Lamentation and the final one Tombland. You won’t be sorry.
This last one is not set at or around the Royal Court we’re in Tudor England, but a couple of years after the death of Henry the VIII… when Edward VI (or course another Edward ) is too young to rule so his uncle – yes you got it – Edward Seymour rules as the protector, when the country is in the grip of a total unrest… there are religious tensions between the old Catholic religions and the new Protestant one, a young Elizabeth and her supporters, and most of all there are rebellions in the country side…
The unlikely hero, the hunchback, clever lawyer is once again caught in the middle of history whilst trying to solve a murder. I am not going to spoil the story, but it’s a fascinating and interesting setting for a story: history from the people point of view… unexpected.
Now I can only sit tight and hope for another one.
Never mind I have four other books patiently waiting for me to talk about them… let me be topical and up to date for once.
I pre-ordered this book months ago but had totally forgotten about it… I’m always wary of ‘follow-ups’ and let’s face it how can you improve on the chilling perfection that is ‘A handmaid’s tale’? How many times we’ve been disappointed by a follow up book? by a second album? or by a second helping of cake?
Also there’s a part of me that likes going against the current and not follow the crowd and am very sceptical of hyped books or movies, but… we’re talking Margaret Atwood not some random writer… So… it might just be worth a go…
I want to talk about this book now because the whole world is reading it and don’t want my thoughts to be tainted or my opinion swayed by what others think. I may be wrong in my thinking, I don’t know… but this is where I’m at.
First thought: mmmmhhh not sure. It felt too easy to read, which, as criticism go is pretty lame, I realise… too easy? How ridiculous… and yet the prose was so smooth and flowy… that I stupidly thought to myself, she’s dumbed it down for the masses, this is like a YF novel.
And then I sat on it for a day, and the book, the story, the characters would not leave me alone. The whole thing was constantly at the back of my menopausal mind and then it’s when I realised the genius of the woman. There’s no need for high flying words, there’s no need of bells and whistles… just a prose that’s so perfectly formed it’s deceptively simple, but what she says it’s not.
If you’re waiting for hear about Offred you’ll be disappointed… this is not a part 2 of the Handmaid’s Tale. ‘The testaments’ is much more. The story takes place 15 years (I think) after the end of the previous tale, and it is told (SPOILER ALERT) by three characters with different backgrounds and points of view, three women, of course, whose lives come together in the warped world of Gilead and come together for a common purpose, the destruction of the regime/system. The first is Aunt Lydia, one of the founding mothers, one is a girl grown up in Gilead who never really fit in and the other one is a girl who grew up on the outside but travels into Gilead for reasons that you’ll have to read yourself about!
No loose ends are left, through Aunt Lydia’s secret confession we learn how it all started and developed (terrifying… the whole ‘put a frog in lukewarm water and you can boil it to death before it notices… is chillingly real and frighteningly possible), about the human mind and what it can do for survival…she’s a complex, well developed character who holds the story in her hand and I wished we’d heard more from her. Agnes’ story is interesting because we get to know more about day to day life is in Gilead (not from the point of view of aHandmaid like in the previous novel, but a ‘normal’ girl’s side of the story), but the third ‘Jade/Nicole’ represent the outside world but in my opinion is by far the weakest of the characters and of the book.
The reason the book has stayed in my head is twofold. First it’s still a warning of how easy to is to slip into a situation that is seemingly impossible and yet totally possible. How easy it is to live one’s life ignoring what’s going on around you till it’s too late. How easy it is to give up personal freedom and ideals in exchange of personal safety, how it is everybody’s responsibility to take action before it’s too late. Secondly I felt there was an underlying sense of optimism and hope, yes, hope, that wasn’t there in the Handmaid’s tale. I felt that Attwood, in the end has enough faith in the human spirit, in people – in women, but also in men – that one day we’ll wake up and realise that we need to act and stop being spectators. Perhaps the book is a call to action. Where the book fails for me is at the end… and without giving too much away… I felt it turned into a hunger games/maze runner type adventure. Perhaps I read too much YF in the past… perhaps not.
So yes, read it. She is an amazing writer. This books IS lighter, has less gravitas than the Handmaid’s Tale, and in my opinion it’s not as good BUT it is worth reading. Read it slowly. Take in the details. The devil really is in the details here.
And then let me know what you think.
Do I believe it’s worth the Booker Price? Hard to say without having read any of the other ones as comparison, and it will be interesting to see if the hype will help or it’ll hinder. If I have to put money on it I’d say no, it shouldn’t win, even if I think Attwood is one of the best living writers out there.
Books, books, let’s talk about books again because it’s been a while and I have lots of them to share with you lovely people. Assuming there’s someone out there..
So, three books in just over two weeks isn’t bad going, but let’s face it, there were two long flights, lots of train journeys and a fiendish jet lag to deal with; all that equal a lot of reading time.
First up, a birthday present from my sister in law, is ‘The Pillow Book’ by Sei Shonagon. It was written by a gentlewoman at the Court of the Japanese Emperoro in around the turn of the last century (966-1017 circa) and it’s like a fascinating ‘diary’ of sort describing life among the nobles: their clothes are described in exquisites details, the poetry they wrote, the music, the day to day minutiae of people who let’s be frank… had not much to do. It offers a candid glimpse of the relationship between men and women, between different ranks and it is sometimes funny, sometimes a little snobby, sometimes very personal…
It’s very different from anything I’d ever read and I had to refer to the copious notes a lot – especially in deciphering all the reference to ‘classic japanese poems and people rank’s orders etc – which did slow down the narrative somewhat, but without doing that most of it would have been slightly incomprehensible. It was a good read to take whilst travelling through the country, that’s for sure.
“Pleasing things: finding a large number of tales that one has not read before. Or acquiring the second volume of a tale whose first volume one has enjoyed. But often it is a disappointment.”
The next book couldn’t be more different. ‘Hiroshima’ by John Hersey. Written the year after the bombing and subsequently updated, it follows four real life people from the fatal morning all the way through the rest of their lives. Hersey is a journalist and his style is unsentimental and factual… but the words speak for themselves. It was terrible events, unimaginable in destruction and pain.
“The crux of the matter is whether total war in its present form is justifiable, even when it serves a just purpose. Does it not have material and spiritual evil as its consequences which far exceed whatever good might result? When will our moralists give us an answer to this question?”
I had terrible jet-lag for the whole of the first week in Japan… I seem to be the only one not being able to sleep past 2 or 3 o’clock each night and because I didn’t want to wake up Mr M by turning the light on I simply grabbed my kindle and read… I have to be honest, I only read my kindle when on holiday… there’s nothing like the actual feel of paper in your hand, but in these situations it’s perfect. I opted for ‘Circe’ by Madeline Miller… and you know what? I was a little ‘meh’ about it. I loved ‘Songs of Achilles’, I loved ‘The secret of the girls’… this one left me a little cold. Also, her voice is very samey samey (technical term) and I couldn’t take myself away from her latest book I read and fully immerse myself in this one. Or maybe it was the subject matter I didn’t gel with. I don’t know. I’m glad I read it I suppose, but I don’t feel I can recommend it as strongly as her other books.
… and this is it… what have you read on holiday?
Do you like reading books written by ‘local’ authors if you go abroad? or set in the country/town/place you’re travelling or staying?
For years one of my favourite traditions when going back to Italy to see the family was buying a book in the ‘Inspector Montalbano’ series. In Italy they’re published in a gorgeous edition, with blue covers and fabulous creamy paper. They’re small edition, easily held in one hand, absolutely perfect to slip in your pocket, or a handbag.
These are my latest reads, I’m sure I’ve missed a few through the years, I’ll needs to check.
The first one came out in 1994, and although I’ve been reading them in Italian you can also find them in English, (here, are the titles in chronological order). I would recommend reading them in the right order so you can get to know all the recurring characters… I promise you they’ll become friends! In the original language they’re written in ‘Sicilian’, which is not always easy for me but very colourful and endearing… I heard that the translation is brilliant and there are notes at the end of the books to explain certain essential traditions and quirks…. I’d be interested to hear what you think?
Salvo Montalbano is an inspector of police, in the imaginary town (but not less real) of Vigata, in Sicily. He’s approaching retirement, he is honest and stubborn and hates talking while eating. He loves food and the description of his legendary meal prepared by his housekeeper will make you mouth water. He’s a ferocious social critic of the Italian and Sicilian condition. He navigate with skills the political waters, the contradictions between North and South ways of thinking and doings and all this with the support of the most extraordinary sets of characters. I grew up in a police environment and ‘nothing’ is exaggerated. Nothing. It makes me chuckle all the time.
If you like clever crime stories without blood dripping down the pages onto your sheets, if you’re interested in contemporary social issues subtly intertwined in the story, if you like well drawn up characters and you like Italy… then these books are for you.
Andrea Camilleri, the author, died a couple of weeks ago and I’m really sad the adventures of Montalbano will now stop. I’ll miss him.
Second holiday read and one of the best books I read this year. Original, beautifully written, moving, scary, terrifying, profound, clever, heartbreaking… I could go on and on… just read it will you?
I’m not big into autobiography… but this book is a memoir with a difference. O’Farrell recounts her life through 17 near death experiences. Don’t think it’s trivial, or funny… because it is one of the most insightful piece of writing I’ve read in a long time. It is a love letter to life, to make every day, every occasion count, every minute, every second because everything is important. It’s not told in chronological order, but that adds to the interest, it’s easy to follow… some chapter are short, some are long, some tie up with the previous ones or another one that will follow.
So many of her observations hit home, but no more that when she talks about her restleness and desire, no, need to travel… she writes that after the first school trip (to Rome, in her case):
For me it was going to stay with our German friends when I was nine. For a month. They didn’t speak Italian, (only the father, but he was at work all day), and I didn’t speak German… but I had the best time… at an unconscious level I think I knew ‘this was it’… the best way to be, always learning, always faced with new things to interpret and disintangle, and appreciate. I even went to school for a couple of weeks… maths and art I could do!!… I also ate my weight in chocolate which ran freely in their house, so that might have had something to do with it!
After that I took any opportunity that came along!
“I have this compulsion for freedom,for a state of liberation. It is an urge so strong, so all-encompassing that it overwhelms everything else. I cannot stand my life as it is. I cannot stand to be here, in this town, in this school. I have to get away.I have to work and work so that I can leave and only then can I create a life that will be liveable for me.”
And that was exactly how I felt when at 19yrs old I left my country… I needed to leave… hard to explain how or why… but in those five lines …. there’s my 17/18/19yr old me.
But seriously, this is a fabulous book.
Go forth and read it.
“We are, all of us, wandering about in a state of oblivion, borrowing our time, seizing our days, escaping our fates, slipping through loopholes, unaware of when the axe may fall.
But let’s talk about ‘Forces of Nature’, by Jane Harper. It’s another case for Aaron Falk, the Australian policeman whom we first met in her debut novel ‘The Dry’ (also brilliant). this time it’s a case of a woman missing ‘in the bush’ during a team building exercise gone wrong.
Whilst I got a little bit annoyed at how helpless the women’s group seemed compared the men’s group… the story is really gripping and perfectly laid out. The characters are well defined and rounded, and the atmosphere pleasantly, spine tinglingly creepy… you just don’t know how it’ll end/where/who/how… It keeps you guessing till the end and doesn’t let down.
I don’t think it’s necessary to have read the first novel to enjoy this one. You might know less of Falk’s background, but it doesn’t matter for this story.
I really enjoyed the Australian vernacular/terminology… it reminded me of my travelling days and it helps building a real sense of place. The description of the weather, the setting of the story are really well done. I would really recommend this book if you like thrillers (not to scary I promise), that are intelligently written and not bloody/violent etc.
I’ve been trying to write this post for the past three days but real life is taking over and time seems to just disappear.
Our family will be wildly scattered around the globe in the next week, the house needs to be sorted for my parents who will look after the dog (who hates suitcases and follows me around everywhere.). I’ve been furiously doing lots of washing and ironing because there’s nothing worse thank coming back to a mountain of washing already waiting for you and watching lots of episodes of Lucifer, which is terribly bad and terribly addictive. The pseudo religious references are hilarious.
I should be packing my bag for our holiday instead I’ve been booking skips for a friend, sorted out the gate people out there fixing out gate, made coffees, called the council emergency line because the poor chaps found a gigantic wasps nest hidden in the hedge and … disturbed it… and got stung and it was scary… then I ironed the last few things, packed No 3’s bag, called the plumber for my parents, and now I’m sitting here in a daze because it’s only 10.30am and my brain feels fried.
As usual it takes me longer to decide what books to take with me than which clothes… I’m still not sure, but I’ll probably take the Beauty Myth (by Naomi Wolf) to finish and then a few chewing gum for the brain novels just to rest my brain. And the kindle. Just in case.
But let’s talk about the two books I mentioned above. They’re both part on the reading list of one of my courses next year.
‘The Longest memory’ is one of those books that will echo in your head for ages after you close the last page. We’re in Virginia, in the 18th century on a plantation… there’s Chapel and his thirst for knowledge and learning and who tries to run away, Whitechapel his father, the oldest slave of the plantation who inadvertently betrays him, there’s Lydia, the white girl who he loves. There’s a society who de-humanize people, hate, respect, humility and cruelty. It’s about the relationship between masters and slaves, between slaves and slaves. Each chapter is written from the point of view of a different character and you get to know all different point of view on the story. Absolutely brilliant, poignant, heartbreaking. It’s only a short novel but it definitively pack a punch, there’s a lot ‘written’ in between the lines.
Sam Selvon’s The lonely Londoners is very different. It’s a vivid portrait of the immigrants life of a bunch of characters arriving in London in the 50s from Jamaica. They’re workers, hustlers, friends, lovers; they try to make it against all odds, they try to get by in a country that is cold, that doesn’t welcome them, that doesn’t really want them… and they do this in all manners of ways, different attitudes, different spirits. The language is great too, took me a while to get used to it and to properly understand it… but it’s has a musicality all of its own and it’s almost better to read it out loud. I had never read anything of this period in English history and I really enjoyed it.
Who doesn’t love Greek myths and stories? who doesn’t love the Iliad?… I do… it’s my favourite… in Italy it’s a huge part of the curriculum together with the Odyssey and the Aeneid… I studied it, read it, translated part of it, wrote essays and had exams… No matter how many times you read it you always find some new detail or imagery or turn of phrase…
Cantami, o Diva, del Pelìde Achille l’ira funesta che infiniti addusse lutti agli Achei….this is how it begins, in Italian of course…
Anyway, Achilles is my hero. And Patroclus too… hard to choose between the two… Yeah, I know there are others… but Paris is an idiot, Hector… maybe… Ulysses thinks a pile of himself, Menelaos is a cuckoo, Agamennones, nah, never liked him… but in the end is all about Achilles for me; a couple of years ago I read the brilliant ‘The song of Achilles’ by Madeline Miller, which rekindled the fire and so when I saw this latest Pat Barker novel I simply couldn’t resist it.
The novel tells the story from a completely different angle, it’s actually Briseis, Achilles’ slave who’s the narrator and it’s absolutely fascinating. She’s angry and bitter and sad… she does NOT like the Greeks, for the first time it’s not about glory and heroism, but exploitation and cruelty and the worst side of the war. It’s a story about defeat, rather than victory. Unusual, but for that reason utterly compelling.
I got a little cross with the dissing of my hero… but actually… it all turns out as it should…. it simply is a brilliant, well written novel. (I did get a little bit bored with the some of the negative descriptions and Briseis’ ‘feelings’, if I have to be honest, but it’s a minor niggle.)
Do read it. It’s fab. And if you’re in a book group it would spark great discussions. Just, just read it.