The Sweet Girl

Knopf. Jun. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9780307962553. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307962560. F
Very little is known about Aristotle's daughter, Phythia, from the volumes of philosophy and history penned by the ancient Greeks, but Lyon has taken the available scraps to create a portrait of a young woman whose intelligence and spirit rival that of any philosopher of the time. Conceived when Aristotle was already quite elderly, Phythia is portrayed as the child of his heart—brilliant, inquisitive, fearless, and indulged. To the dismay of their traditional household the great philosopher teaches his daughter dissection, medicine, and natural history, subjects deemed less than useful for women. But the family is a happy one until the death of Alexander the Great causes an uprising in Athens and forces Macedonians loyal to the king to flee the city. When Aristotle dies shortly after their exile to a small town, Phythia finds herself unprotected and at the mercy of rebellious servants, suspicious neighbors, and unscrupulous men who would take advantage of her youth and naïveté.
VERDICT Lyon won the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize for The Golden Mean, a Canadian best seller about the relationship between Aristotle and his most famous pupil, Alexander the Great. In this follow-up to that award-winning debut, the author seamlessly fuses the history of the ancient world with the rich earthiness of her characters' everyday lives, dreams, and ambitions. [See Prepub Alert, 1/13.]
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