- Fantasy fiction
New York :
- First American edition
- Item Description
- "Originally published in Great Britain by Jonathan Cape, an imprint at Penguin Random House UK, in 2021."
- Physical Description
- 318 pages : illustrations, genealogical tables, maps ; 24 cm
- Includes bibliographical references and index.
- Main Author
- Other Authors
*Starred Review* Male figures—Zeus, Apollo, Hercules—stand center stage in ancient Greek myths, but by retelling those myths through female narrators (Athena, Philomena, Penelope), Higgins invests the tales with surprising new meanings. The fabulous ancient tales in this collection unfold as images that skilled female artisans weave into the tapestries they are crafting on their looms. Readers will marvel at how, for instance, the purple threads Athena sews into the fabric of her narrative panels blossom as flowers filling a spring meadow moments before Persephone fatefully wanders away from her companions. Readers will tremble when Arachne—proud she can spin mere wool into heavenly clouds—defies the goddess who has taught her this wizardry. Similarly, when Circe adorns her weaving with pictures of her niece, Medea, readers feel the perilous powers in the herbal spells that she brews. Behind all of these marvelous artisan-narrators, the command of Higgins herself, as the master weaver of myths, emerges forcefully. Finally, when in Higgins' last story, Penelope begins to doubt her husband's accounts of his experiences with Athena and other Olympians—indeed, to question Zeus' heaven-governing powers—we sense not only Penelope's independence, but also the emergence of the skeptical rationalism that will drive mythology out of modern life. Ancient myths here acquire compelling modern form. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.Review by Library Journal Reviews
Chief culture writer at the Guardian and winner of the Classical Association Prize, Higgins takes a fresh look at Greek myths, which have been retold throughout the millennia given their unerring understanding of the human condition. Higgins works from the perspective of women, from Athena and Helen to Circe and Penelope, as if they were weaving these stories together into one grand tapestry. Illustrator Ofili has exhibited at the Tate Britain and New York's New Museum. Big in-house love. Copyright 2021 Library Journal.Review by PW Annex Reviews
Higgins (Red Thread: On Mazes and Labyrinths) delivers a luminous collection of Greek myths relayed by women and goddesses through the weaving of tapestries. Many of the fantastical stories of witches, slayers, and monsters feature violence against women and familial murder. Athena depicts the origin of the world, her birth, creation of men by Zeus, and four scenes of war between gods. Alcithoe weaves a tale of Thebes with Europa, kidnapped and raped by Zeus; King Oedipus, who murdered his father and married his mother; and the murder of Pentheus, king of Thebes. Philomela's section includes the egotist Narcissus and Pygmalion, who loved a statue; and an account of her death at the hands of Tereus. Andromache tells of the relationship between the goddess Aphrodite and Adonis, a mortal. Helen, who blinded men with her beauty, depicts her love affair with Paris and the legendary fall of Troy to the Greeks. Circe, a witch and a recluse, punishes intruders. Penelope's handiwork is woven and unraveled daily as she awaits the return of Odysseus. While unseasoned mythology readers will have a tough time keeping a handle on the myriad deities, mortals, and creatures, Higgins's versions are consistently smart and imaginative. This makes for a provocative and alluring reanimation of the classics. (Dec.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly Annex.
The chief culture writer for The Guardian offers a retelling of the Greek myths as though they were scenes being woven into textiles by the women who have prominent roles in the stories. Illustrations.Review by Publisher Summary 2
The chief culture writer for The Guardian offers a retelling of the Greek myths as though they were scenes being woven into textiles by the women who have prominent roles in the stories.Review by Publisher Summary 3
A brilliantly original, landmark retelling of Greek myths, recounted as if they were actual scenes being woven into textiles by the women who feature prominently in them—including Athena, Helen, Circe and Penelope“Greek myths were full of powerful witches, unpredictable gods and sword-wielding slayers. They were also extreme: about families who turn murderously on each other; impossible tasks set by cruel kings; love that goes wrong; wars and journeys and terrible loss. There was magic, there was shape-shifting, there were monsters, there were descents to the land of the dead. Humans and immortals inhabited the same world, which was sometimes perilous, sometimes exciting. “The stories were obviously fantastical. All the same, brothers really do war with each other. People tell the truth but aren’t believed. Wars destroy the innocent. Lovers are parted. Parents endure the grief of losing children. Women suffer violence at the hands of men. The cleverest of people can be blind to what is really going on. The law of the land can contradict what you know to be just. Mysterious diseases devastate cities. Floods and fire tear lives apart. “For the Greeks, the word muthos simply meant a traditional tale. In the twenty-first century, we have long left behind the political and religious framework in which these stories first circulated—but their power endures. Greek myths remain true for us because they excavate the very extremes of human experience: sudden, inexplicable catastrophe; radical reversals of fortune; and seemingly arbitrary events that transform lives. They deal, in short, in the hard, basic facts of the human condition.” —from the Introduction