The Children of Jocasta
"[A] dark, elegant novel" of two women in ancient Greece, based on the great tragedies of Sophocles (Publishers Weekly).Thebes is a city in mourning, still reeling from a devastating plague that invaded every home and left the survivors devastated and fearful. This is the Thebes that Jocasta has known her entire life, a city ruled by a king--her husband-to-be.
Jocasta struggles through this miserable marriage until she is unexpectedly widowed. Now free to choose her next husband, she selects the handsome, youthful Oedipus. When whispers emerge of an unbearable scandal, the very society that once lent Jocasta its support seems determined to destroy her.
Ismene is a girl in mourning, longing for the golden days of her youth, days spent lolling in the courtyard garden, reading and reveling in her parents' happiness and love. Now she is an orphan and the target of a murder plot, attacked within the very walls of the palace. As the deadly political competition swirls around her, she must uncover the root of the plot--and reveal the truth of the curse that has consumed her family.
The novel is based on Oedipus Tyrannus and Antigone, two of Classical Greece's most compelling tragedies. Told in intersecting narratives, this reimagining of Sophocles's classic plays brings life and voice to the women who were too often forced to the background of their own stories. "After two and a half millennia of near silence, Jocasta and Ismene are finally given a chance to speak . . . Haynes's Thebes is vividly captured. In her excellent new novel, she harnesses the mutability of myth."--The Guardian
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About the Author
Natalie Haynes is the author of The Amber Fury, which was shortlisted for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year award, and a non-fiction book about Ancient History, The Ancient Guide to Modern Life. She has written and presented two series on BBC Radio 4. In 2015, she was awarded the Classical Association Prize for her work in bringing Classics to a wider audience.
Praise for The Children of Jocasta
"[A] dark, elegant novel...Haynes's greatest achievement is imagining a full world surrounding Sophocles's tragedies, thrusting two minor characters in their respective plays to the forefront and bringing the myths vividly to life." --Publishers Weekly
"This Gordian knot of incest still has the power to shock, and Haynes is deft with it and with its consequences for the next generation. Her grasp of the ancient city-state is marvelously firm. Her sturdy sentences conjure the punishing Greek summer heat that quells movement and the gold rings bunching the fat on the fingers of florid men." --Kirkus Reviews
"After two and a half millennia of near silence, Jocasta and Ismene are finally given a chance to speak. Oedipus, Jocasta, and their children are depicted as ordinary men and women grappling with unequivocally sublunary issues. Haynes's Thebes is vividly captured. In her excellent new novel, she harnesses the mutability of myth." --The Guardian
"The ancient city state comes vividly alive in Haynes's hands." --The Spectator
"A mesmerising work of beauty and brutality." --The Australian
"In its physical details, her story is a plausible reconstruction of urban life in a Greek palace-state--complete with obsidian mirrors and wax writingtablets, dark rooms and sacrificial fires." --New Statesman
"Finally in this novel, after so many thousands of years, Jocasta is given her voice." --Sydney Review of Books
"This is a novel firmly grounded in the physical world, as its language--sensuous, graphic, and violent--shouts aloud to the reader. The world-building, too, is marvelous--no one who has passed through the gates of Thebes as described here is likely ever to forget the experience. Highly recommended." --Historical Novel Society