This is the first novel by Ackroyd that I have read. Although I came with no preconceptions, I must admit that I was hoping for the "gripping and terrible" story, promised on the back cover. What I actually got was a mediocre story.
The book follows the archaeologist, Herr Obermann, whose passion for Troy and its legend seems to know no bounds - it posesses him and all that he percieves in the world. In deed, his passion is so large that he seeks out a Greek wife who is able to read the works of Homer. Sophia, his new wife is much younger than Obermann, but out of duty to her parents, and because she also has a great love for Troy, she agrees to the marriage and determines to make the best of it.
Yet Obermann's obsession with Troy slowly begins to take more of a sinister twist. He makes his findings fit his own theories, and when an American begins to question his work, he just so happens to come down with a mysterious illness.
As the novel progresses to its ending, Sophia aslo learns that Obermann has other, darker secrets that he is keeping from her - a secret that will ultimately lead him to his own destiny.
Ackroyd has done a good job at creating the character of Obermann. Although he is not very likeable, he is not two dimensional. Sophia, also is quite believeable - the word I would use to sum her up is 'dutiful'. Yet, despite this good characterisation, the story, for me, left a lot to be desired. The love affair seemed rushed and intangible; I saw it more as a way to help the ending along. Even the ending was an anti-climax. It was not the terrible and gripping ending that was promised; for a seasoned writer, I expected more.
Overall, this is an OK read. Good for a short while, but not something that will grip you from page one right up to the very end. Like archaeology, you may have to dig a little deeper.