Sunday, 9 July 2017

Talking Books: The Children of Jocasta

The Children of Jocasta by Natalie Haynes.

I think my love of Greece and all things Greek shines through on this blog, from reworkings of the myths and legends through to seeing plays from millennia ago in the original language! I've been looking forward to this book since last November when Natalie Haynes spoke about it at the Heffer's Classics Forum.

This is Haynes' reworking of the stories behind the plays Oedipus Tyrannos and Antigone but focuses her dual time line on two female characters who feature almost as throwaway lines.

At the very start I was a little unsure about the book, I couldn't place where the prologue fitted in to the tale at all and this confused me but once the story proper started with chapters alternating between generations I was hooked completely and stayed up far too late reading the book because I just couldn't put it down.

The characters were hugely realistic and vivid while the prose and descriptions really brought to life how the Hellenes lived. I've visited the ruins in Greece and know how the palaces work in theory but this book really made the stones I've visited into a living place

I knew the rough outlines of the stories behind the novel but Haynes used her knowledge of all versions of the stories to weave a brilliant tale that made me think about all the ideas I held about the characters and to think about the tales from a female point of view.

I think that this book would be just as enjoyable if you don't know much about the original stories/plays and that Haynes adds to them rather than anything else, I now want to search out Sophocles' other Oedipus play and also the mentions of him in Homer's Odyssey - oh and Anouilh's version of Antigone...

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