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With summer now in full swing, the long days and plentiful sunshine are ideal conditions for reading. Add the following books to your summer reading list.
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes tells the story of the women, girls, and goddesses in the aftermath of the Trojan War. From the Trojan women whose fates now lie in the hands of the Greeks, to the Amazon princess who fought Achilles on their behalf, to Penelope awaiting the return of Odysseus, to the three goddesses whose feud started it all, the book recounts the stories of the women whose lives, loves, and rivalries were forever altered by this long and tragic war. Haynes brings these unheard voices from Homer’s epics to life in this well-written novel which was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.
Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr weaves together the stories of various characters in different time periods and features an ancient Greek manuscript that connects them all. Set in Constantinople in the fifteenth century, in a small town in present-day Idaho, and on an interstellar ship decades from now, Doerr’s third novel is imaginative and compassionate, a soaring story about children on the cusp of adulthood in worlds in peril, who find resilience, hope, and a book. In Cloud Cuckoo Land, Doerr has created a magnificent tapestry of times and places that reflects our vast interconnectedness— with other species, with each other, with those who lived before us, and with those who will be here after we are gone.
One Last Chance by Jeffrey Siger is book 12 in the Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis series of murder mysteries set in Greece. This compelling book is set specifically on the mountainous, rugged Greek island of Ikaria with its storied past of exploitation, exiles, and lives spent in hiding from conquerors, slavers, and pirates. Today, Ikaria is best known as one of the world’s Blue Zones and as “the island where people forget to die” for the longevity of its people.
Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis’ longtime assistant, Maggie, returns to her ancestral home on Ikaria for her 104-year-old grandmother’s funeral, her grief quickly turns to suspicion. Not only had her yiayia been in good health just a week before her death, but there are bruises on her arm that suggest a botched IV insertion that no one can explain. While chatting with the savanotria who prepared Yaya’s body for burial, Maggie learns that several other long-lived Ikariots had recently died under the same questionable circumstances.
Elektra by Jennifer Saint is another impressive retelling of Greek myth, a strong follow-up to her debut novel, Ariadne, which became an international bestseller, A Book of the Month pick, and garnered comparisons to Madeline Miller’s Circe and Song of Achilles. Published by Flatiron Books, the book weaves together the stories of three women bound to the House of Atreus, desperate to escape an ancient curse and to step out of the shadow of the heroes of the Trojan War. The characters are well-known to those familiar with Greek myths- Clytemnestra, Cassandra, and the title character, Elektra, but Saint’s retelling of their stories allows us to experience the dramatic events through their own eyes and with a deeper sense of their emotional truth and the profound lessons that ancient Greek myths can still teach us today about human nature and its constancy.
The books mentioned above are available online and in bookstores.
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