Daughters of Sparta

Dutton. Jun. 2021. 384p. ISBN 9780593184370. pap. $17. F
DEBUT Classicist Heywood’s debut novel creatively explores why Helen of Troy, “the most beautiful woman in the world,” traveled from her native Sparta to the city of Troy. Greek mythology recounts the devastating battle that ensued on Helen’s behalf; it has baffled philosophers, historians, and artists across the ages. Why did Helen leave behind her family and home in Sparta? What sort of influence did Paris possess to lead her away to Troy? Heywood shows that motives always look different on the surface until you delve deep into someone’s mind. She skillfully depicts the experiences of Helen and her sister Clytemnestra, two young women disenchanted with their traditional roles as royal married women. Troubled and unhappy, they must navigate the societal expectations that threaten to harm them; Clytemnestra’s docility conflicts with her desire to seek justice against her husband for his crimes, and Helen’s struggle with labor and birth leads her to shun motherhood. Heywood provides a look at the women behind the myth as she explores each sister’s journey to finding acceptance and peace in a turbulent world.
VERDICT Recommended for fans of Madeline Miller or readers interested in Greek mythology, historical fiction, and women leading characters.
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