Has there been a film version?
There’ve been films about Helen of Troy, but never based on this novel.
Who are the important characters?
Helen – daughter of Leda the Swan and Zeus, considered the most beautiful woman in the world
Paris – a once estranged but now accepted prince of Troy, Helen’s lover
Menelaus – Helen’s husband
Gelanor – a scientist who befriends Helen and travels with her during her life
Evadne – an old crone who takes Helen under her protection
Hermione – Helen’s daughter
Agamemnon – Menelaus’s brother and husband to Helen’s sister
Priam – King of Troy
Achilles – a seemingly invincible warrior
Hecuba – Queen of Troy
Hector – the crown prince of Troy and its greatest warrior
Andromache – Hector’s wife
Aphrodite – one of Helen’s protective goddesses, the goddess of love
What’s it about?
This is the life of Helen as told from her perspective. We first meet her as a child in Sparta, wondering about her father and wishing she could simply be normal. Instead, she’s forced to wear a veil whenever she goes out in public for reasons no one explains to her.
As her life progresses, we follow along as she gains special gifts from the healing god Asclepius, is courted by over 40 men and eventually marries Menelaus; a friend from childhood. But while their marriage produces Hermione, her daughter, Helen suffers from a loveless relationship with her husband. It isn’t until she’s visited by Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, and her eyes are opened to what pleasures can be gained by a passionate relationship. She agrees to obey Aphrodite in return for the promise of passion in her future. And when she returns from this journey, she meets Paris for the first time…who takes her to be a Princess of Troy.
Do I recommend you read this book?
I always highly recommend any Margaret George book.
How did this book make my list?
My husband’s great aunt recommended Margaret George as an author and I can never thank her enough.
Has it won any awards?
I don’t have any for you, sorry.
George is going to try and publish a book about Elizabeth I in 2010 – and after that write a book on Boudicca, which I am very VERY excited about. Also, when I was in seventh grade, we did a play on the battle for Troy, and I played Agamemnon. I had very cool armor.
This is the first George book I’ve tackled since being defeated by the sheer bulk of the biography of Cleopatra. Helen’s story, while no less exciting than Cleopatra’s, was a bit more engaging. She was portrayed as very much more down-to-earth than the Egyptian queen. Helen was a queen as well, but instead of lusting for power as Cleopatra did, Helen was only wanting to be happy, to have peace, to be normal. I was not as familiar with Helen’s story as I am with Cleopatra’s, and had no idea she was from Sparta originally. Nor did I know what happened to her after the fall of Troy. This book goes into just enough detail make the characters vivid, but not overtly so. All throughout the novel, Helen is just independent enough for me to admire her and just tragic enough for me to pity her.