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Goddess of Yesterday: A Tale of Troy [Paperback]

Caroline B. Cooney
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

12 May 2009
Anaxandra is taken from her birth island at age 6 by King Nicander to be a companion to his crippled daughter, Princess Callisto. Six years later, her new island is sacked by pirates and she is the sole survivor. Alone with only her Medusa figurine, she reinvents herself as Princess Callisto when Menelaus, great king of Sparta, lands with his men. He takes her back to Sparta with him where Helen, his beautiful wife, does not believe that the red-headed child is Princess Callisto. Although fearful of the half-mortal, half-goddess Helen, Anaxandra is able to stay out of harm’s way—until the Trojan princes Paris and Aeneas arrive. Paris and Helen’s fascination with each other soon turns to passion and plunges Sparta and Troy into war. Can Anaxandra find the courage to reinvent herself once again, appease the gods, and save herself?

In Caroline B. Cooney’s epic tale of one girl’s courage and will to survive, Anaxandra learns that home is where you make it and identity goes deeper than just your name.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product details

  • Paperback: 263 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; Reprint edition (12 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038573865X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385738651
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 13.4 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 609,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down! 21 Aug 2007
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really loved this book! It gives a really good view of the story of Helen and Paris, and it follows the brave heroine Anaxandra. The characters are strong and seem to have a real personality. It is heartwarming in some places and really sad in others, and definitley worth a read. Not to be confused with "On the Seas to Troy" which is the same book under a different title and cover. 5 stars!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 22 July 2014
By chris
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent school award
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  40 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I coudn't put it down 21 Aug 2002
By Amelia M - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Library Binding
I usually find at least one thing wrong with each of the author's books, but Goddess of Yesterday was perfect. It tells the story of a young girl named Anaxandra, taken as a hostage to the island of Siphnos where she is a companion to the Princess Callisto. When war comes, she must pertend to be Callisto in order to save herself. Before the books is over, she has to pretend to be even more people. The villain is Helen of Troy, who I hated ( I mean that in a good way), but one of my favorite charaters was Paris, who was equally as mean as Helen. And the main character, Anaxandra, was so real.
Goddess of Yesterday was easy to undersaynd, good Historical fiction, detailed Greek Mythology, and very exciting. I couldn't put the book down, and I wish it had gone on longer. And, unlike a lot of Caroline B. Cooney's other books, the ending to Goddess of Yesterday was complete.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Truly I have been Lucky in my Kings" 12 May 2004
By R. M. Fisher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
There is a huge range of novels out there concerning the Trojan War and the men and women whose lives were changed by the great event - so many books in fact, that it is difficult to find one that doesn't feel stale and predictable (after all, no author can really make shocking twists and turns in a war whose outcome is already known). Like books concerning the King Arthur legends, the Trojan War as a subject for a book is rapidly becoming dull.
So it is refreshing to find now and again a book that deals with this subject, and is actually *interesting*, suspenseful and surprisingly good. Such is Caroline B. Cooney's "Goddess of Yesterday". Although all of the mythological details and events of the War are correct (at least as far as I could see), the author brings new personalities to well-known characters, thoughtful insights on blasphemy and the nature of gods, and a likeable young heroine that blends so easily into the events leading up to the War that one might be surprised not to find her mentioned in ancient sources!
Anaxandra is the beloved daughter of a chieftain father in a small rocky isle, taken away from her home and family as a tribute/hostage of King Nicander, who places her in his own household as a companion to his own crippled daughter Princess Callisto. Despite homesickness, Anaxandra adjust to her new life, only to have it shattered once more by pirates who plunder Siphnos. Thanks to an ingenious disguise, Anaxandra is the sole survivor, and when the ship bearing King Menelaus pulls in to investigate, she lies to ensure her future: telling the King of Sparta that she is the Princess Callisto.
Under this new identity, she is taken to Sparta where she mingles with the family of the king: his beautiful but dangerous wife Helen, his cheerful daughter Hermione, his two elder sons, and baby Pleisthenes. It is there of course, that the inevitable happens: Prince Paris of Troy arrives in Sparta, and when Menelaus is called away to his grandfather's funeral, Paris and Helen set sail once more for Troy...taking baby Pleisthenes and Anaxandra (again under a false identity in a bid to save Hermione's life) with them...
When retelling such a well-known story, it is impossible to change important events in the tale (scholars would get too stroppy), but the personalities of the people involved are always up for grabs. Cooney creates an interesting version of Helen, as a painfully beautiful demi-goddess, utterly cruel, cold, manipulating, and revelling in the blood of the soldiers who die for her sake. It's a shocking change from the usual somewhat reluctant follower of Paris, who would walk the walls in agony over the deaths below her. Hector and Andromache's characterisations I am less fond of: he's too heavy-set and gruff, and she's too frivolous and giggly. Cassandra, however is captured perfectly as the hysterical, but beloved princess in the tower, and Cooney instigates a very clever plot-twist in the details of her curse (that her prophesies are never believed), that caught me completely off-guard!
There are a few details that bothered me: Anaxandra often beseeches the deity that gives name to the book: 'the goddess of yesterday', but who this figure actually is and how she fits into the pantheon of Greek gods remains unknown. The same complaint lies with the use of Medusa as a "good-luck charm", and did anyone else think that Anaxandra's romance with Euneas was a little abrupt? One horse ride and she's in love?
Furthermore, there are alot of plot threads left hanging - does Anaxandra meet up with Euneas again? Cassandra hints that her parents are still looking for her - so does she ever meet them again? Does she have her revenge on the pirates of the twisted fish? And for someone who knows absolutely nothing about the Trojan War, they will be left dangling with absolutely no information on what happens to any of the characters - Cooney ends the book, so to speak, just when it seems like it's beginning. An epilogue fills in these blanks, but I would have liked to hear it from Anaxandra's point of view (plus Cooney forgets to mentions that Aretha is eventually rescued by her grandsons after the sack of Troy).
But all in all, Caroline B. Cooney has written a clear, beautifully descriptive story of an engaging young woman caught up in events much larger than herself, as well as a reworking of the traditional myths, and a reasonably accurate depiction of ancient Greek life. In terms of novel based on this "Trojan genre", this one is one of the best.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful novel that brings the Trojan War to life. 22 Aug 2004
By Rebecca Herman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Anaxandra is the only daughter of the chieftain of a small, unnamed island in the Aegean Sea. When she is just six years old, she is taken as a hostage by Nicander, king of Siphnos. She ends up being companion and friend to his crippled daughter Callisto. Six years later, Siphnos is raided by pirates, and Anaxandra is the only survivor. When Menelaus, king of Sparta, stops his fleet of ships at Siphnos to investigate, Anaxandra lies to save herself. She takes on the identity of the dead princess Callisto. Menelaus takes her home with him to his palace, where she befriends his children, in particular his daughter Hermoine and his baby son Pleis. But she is also terrified by his wife Helen, who knows the truth, that Anaxandra is not Callisto. When Helen runs off with her lover, Prince Paris of Troy, and determines to bring her two younger children along, Anaxandra disguises herself and goes in Hermoine's place, to save her friend, and protect Pleis. She manages to get herself and the baby safely to Troy -- where a great war is about to begin, and they are in more danger then ever before.

I absolutely loved this book, and I highly recommend it book to young adult readers with an interest in the Trojan War, or Greek mythology in general. Anaxandra is a wonderful character, and her narrative brings the world of Ancient Greece and Troy to life.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece 15 July 2002
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Library Binding
I am an avid reader of Greek Mythology and I really enjoyed this book for its different perspective about Helen of Troy.
Anaxandra is six years old when she is taken from her small island home by King Nicander to be a friend to Callisto, King Nicander's sickly daughter on the island of Siphnos. There Anaxandra dwells for six years. When she is tweleve her island is raided by pirates and every one on the island besides her is killed or taken captive.
When King Menelaus of Sparta comes to the island to investigate, Anaxandra assumes the identity of Callisto (who is presumed dead) so that the King will take her to Sparta with him.
But Queen Helen, Menelaus's dangerously beautiful but cruel and self-absorbed wife, does not believe that red haired Anaxandra is dark haired Callisto and seeks to be rid of Anaxandra.
When handsome Paris comes to carry Helen off, Anaxandra poses as Helen's daughter so she will be able to go to Troy with them and take care of Helen's only son. She must use all her wits to survive in Troy with Helen and Paris seeking to rid themselves of the only heir to the throne of Sparta and the young Anaxandra taking care of him.
I really enjoyed this book because it is such a great retelling of the "kidnapping" of Helen from a young girl's perspective.
Caroline B. Cooney does a great job of rendering the personalities of both Helen and Paris and it makes a great read.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Troy and Sparta from a young girl's point of view 28 Jan 2003
By sandy807 - Published on Amazon.com
Anaxandra, the female heroine of the story, tells from her point of view about the clash between the Trojans and the Spartans, when Paris of Troy went to Sparta and kidnapped King Menelaus' beautiful wife Helen. Anaxandra, who was pretending to be a princess from another city, was there to witness this, and then, disguised as Helen's daughter, returned with the kidnappers in their ships to Troy, in order to protect Helen's baby son. But Helen, who had been willingly kidnapped, hated Anaxandra, and when she discovered that Anaxandra had sneaked along, punished her by having her head shaved.
Anaxandra is a wonderful heroine. Though she lies about her identity, she is just trying to keep herself and the little prince Pleis alive. This is not a soft and fluffy girls story, rather, Anaxandra witnesses some bloody horrors of war, is constantly in danger, is treated unkindly, and ultimately attempts to rescue Pleis from being murdered, and to escape from Troy.
Her other adventures include danger from a storm at sea, falling in love with a foreign king, meeting up with the strange prophetess girl Cassandra, who is locked up in the king's tower, and disguising herself like a boy in the marketplace. Her "goddess of yesterday" is the goddess she prays to, and on whom she relies to get her out of her troubles.
I appreciate the author's afterword, in which she explains which details of the book came from the stories passed down by the ancient writers, and which parts she made up. She also explains that it is not known if the story of Helen and Paris is fact or myth, but that if it did really happen, it would have been about 1250 B.C. This is a great book for young readers/teens who love Greek mythology, or who are just being introduced to it.
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