APHRODITE'S BLESSINGS: Love Stories from the Greek Myths

Clemence McLaren, Author . S&S/Atheneum $16 (208p) ISBN 978-0-689-84377-8

In this trilogy of love stories—Greek myths expertly retold with a feminist slant—McLaren (Waiting for Odysseus) brings to life three heroines, Atalanta, Andromeda and Psyche, and shows how each obtains a worthy mate. Romance links the stories, but it is not of the hearts-and-flowers variety. Themes regarding the repression of women and their secret yearnings for independence add an element of sharpness even as happy endings prevent these sagas from becoming unpleasantly bitter. In "Running from Love," for example, Atalanta's athletic skills and unorthodox views earn her a reputation as "a freak of nature." Caring more about self-preservation than others' opinions, she literally outruns her suitors to avoid the prison of marriage. Andromeda and Psyche are less rebellious. They reluctantly succumb to grim fates of loveless unions until supernatural forces unexpectedly intervene. McLaren endows her classical protagonists with new dimensions, making them vulnerable yet courageous, compassionate yet steel-willed. She artfully preserves the ambience of myth while offering an insightful glimpse of women struggling in a male-dominated world. A thoughtful afterword explores the status of upper-class women in real-life ancient Greece, identifies some of McLaren's sources and explains her variations on them. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/17/2001
Release date: 01/01/2002
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-1-4169-7860-2
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