BOOK STEW REVIEW: ‘Daughters Of Sparta’ by Claire Heywood

Below is the latest Book Stew Review from Eileen MacDougall, the host of the 80+ episodes of Book Stew, a 30-minute video and podcast devoted to writing in all forms, featuring authors, playwrights, voice artists, and journalists.

‘Daughters of Sparta’ by Claire Heywood

I’m a sucker for Greek mythology. Those who also enjoyed the novels “Circe” and “Song of Achilles” will relish this behind-the-scenes look at sisters Klytemnestra and Helen, who marry brothers of Mycenae, Agamemnon and Menelaus.

All four will play critical roles in the Trojan War and its aftermath. The women tell their stories in alternating chapters, and there are many surprises in store, inventions by the author never related in Homer’s Iliad.

Klytemnestra allows Agamemnon’s sacrifice of their daughter Iphigenia in exchange for fair winds to Troy and vows vengeance against him amid a shocking reveal about the role of Calchas the seer in the sacrifice.

Another twist in her story is the lineage of Aegisthus, who becomes Klytemnestra’s lover before Agamemnon returns from battle. Rejected by her mother Leda (who, for good reason, resents Zeus fathering her in the form of a swan), Helen’s reluctance to bear children after the difficult birth of her own daughter causes a rift with Menelaus, and she succumbs when the weak and vain Paris lures her to Troy (and steals from Menelaus’ treasure trove).

This is an entertaining addition to the genre, with the author’s imagination adding greatly to the familiar myths.

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