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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Olympus' faded hierarchy
A witty idea: because noone believes in the gods of Olympus any more, they are all living together in a grotty house near Hampstead Heath. What is left of their ancient power has to be used sparingly; and they do secular jobs `appropriate' to their previous status: Artemis is a professional dog-walker, Aphrodite is a telephone sex operator, Apollo appears on a TV...
Published on 19 Aug 2007 by Ralph Blumenau

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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Fine, Fun Read
Nestling uncomfortably under a brightly block-coloured cover with a cute, handwriting-effect title, this book understandably led a friend of mine to ask, "Are you reading a chick-lit?" While Gods Behaving Badly has a light-hearted, gently ironic tone that wouldn't be out of place in a Bridget Jones book or the like, and comes complete with a happy rom-com ending, it's...
Published on 13 Sep 2008 by Mr. David Thomas Moore


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Olympus' faded hierarchy, 19 Aug 2007
By 
Ralph Blumenau (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Gods Behaving Badly (Hardcover)
A witty idea: because noone believes in the gods of Olympus any more, they are all living together in a grotty house near Hampstead Heath. What is left of their ancient power has to be used sparingly; and they do secular jobs `appropriate' to their previous status: Artemis is a professional dog-walker, Aphrodite is a telephone sex operator, Apollo appears on a TV show, Dionysus runs a night club, etc. Just as they did on Mount Olympus, they quarrel a lot and do each other mischief. In particular, Aphrodite has a quarrel with Apollo and gets Eros (reluctant because he has come to admire the teaching of Jesus Christ) to fire an arrow at Apollo which makes him fall in love with the first creature he sees, who happens to be a young woman cleaner who is in a chaste relationship with a young engineering draughtsman. I mustn't give away more of the plot, which ingeniously works the mine of Greek mythology. It's a seedy world they now live in and there is a good deal of raunchiness. The style is mostly flat and colloquial; much of the book is dialogue, some of it foul. An artistic treat the book is not; but Marie Phillips keeps up the ingenuity to the end, when she imagines a science-fiction-like Underworld; and once, two-thirds through the book, the prevailing larky note changes to a passage that is rather profound.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another refugee problem, 3 April 2008
By 
Stephen A. Haines (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Gods Behaving Badly (Hardcover)
Alice Mulholland, although armed with a linguistics degree, is a cleaner. She likes things neat and tidy - she's almost obsessive about it. Sacked from a job, she's convinced by her friend Neil to go freelance. Her seeking work brings her to a dilapidated house in an otherwise suitable neighbourhood. Greeted - and hired immediately - by an austere woman named Artemis, she enters a new life. The house in Islington is inhabited by refugees from Mount Olympus, where Artemis once hunted, Zeus ruled and the world seemed a happier place. Now, in this run-down place, they eke out something of an existence while staying mostly out of sight of the mortal world.

In this hilarious account of how the gods interact and what that might mean for us, Marie Phillips depicts their lives in stark detail. Artemis the huntress now walks dogs for busy clients. Aphrodite, that stunningly beautiful personification of lust, is a telephone sex worker. Zeus and Hera haven't been seen for twenty years. Apollo, ever restless, wants to restore his power, but is prevented from some of his more exotic actions by an oath to harm no more humans. Good thing, since he punishes those who reject him. That's almost lucky for Alice with whom he falls madly in love - with a little prompting. Alice, however, is a "nice" girl and wants nothing to do with him. She has Neil - in a manner of speaking - and wants to remain loyal to their tenuous relationship.

Phillips has crafted an engaging story of sibling rivalry, thwarted and waning powers and a touching love story. We have been led away from the idea of our gods being human-like, she reminds us. Perhaps we need something to restore that affiliation and return to what we have lost. First, of course, we must re-ignite that belief. What kind of events might lead us to do that? In Phillips' hands, the answer is vividly clear. We need to be confronted with what we had and find reason to return to it. Her prompt for that reason is innovative, to say the least. Apollo, never receptive to being thwarted, is bent on satisfaction - if not one kind, then another.

One of the gods, Eros, is straying from the fold. He thinks there might be something in Christianity. He's in the process of "converting", although the Olympian Family has serious doubts Jesus ever actually existed. He's learned about "guilt" - without which Christianity couldn't exist - and forgiveness, although he's still in the dark about how it works. He has a chance to try out his new-found skills when a problem arises - mostly over Alice, but much of the Olympian Family's internal rivalries are also involved. The issue becomes critical when the fading powers of the deities are put to the test. Those who know their mythology will recognise much of the solution, but even the knowing will be surprised by how Phillips brings about the resolution. This book almost cries out for a sequel. Read it and find out why. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, witty and extremely entertaining!, 14 Aug 2007
By 
Mark A. Warmington (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gods Behaving Badly (Hardcover)
I walked past this book in Waterstones and immediately felt the urge to pick it up. I am currently ploughing my way through Bullfynches Mythology and therefore could not resist the urge to scan the first few pages.

The first paragraph alone told me that I had to own this book and see how Marie Phillips manages to weave the ancient into the 21st Century.

The book is fantastically entertaining and an enthralling read. I read the book in less than 10 hours as I was caught up in each and every twist and turn of the plot.

Anyone who loves mythology would be amused by the way that Phillips uses the traditional element of tragedy so often the basis of Greek mythology in this 21st Century version.

For anyone who struggles to remember which god does what and who is related to whom - this book is a godsend. Artemis, Apollo, Eros et al come alive in such a way that you can vividly imagine living in a modern world where the great gods of Olympus walk past you every day.

Get it! Read it! Enjoy it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gods And Mortals, 12 Oct 2007
By 
Martin A Hogan "Marty From SF" (San Francisco, CA. (Hercules)) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Gods Behaving Badly (Hardcover)
Famed Greek Gods, Artemis, Apollo, Aphrodite and Dionysus share a living space in England. Not having the ancient powers they used to, each God takes on 'mortal' jobs, ranging from walking dogs to running a night club to being a telephone sex operator. There is much bickering around the household about ordinary life and they tend to cause several quite humorous mischievous things to each other. One that is important is when Aphrodite gets Eros to make Apollo fall in love with a young cleaning woman (as good housekeepers are tough to find these days, you know). Of course, this woman is not emotionally available and that starts a series of truly clever and funny occurrences throughout the book. Greek mythology is well reconstructed and the new world is far raunchier and seedier than the distant past. Of course, all these activities lead up to a tumultuous ending where mortals and Gods interact in the strangest of underworld ways. A clever idea written with a breezy wit; Marie Phillips hits the mark on the head with this twist of mythology and reality.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A FUNNY AND VERY ORIGINAL STORY, 2 July 2011
By 
Eleni - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Gods Behaving Badly (Paperback)
Someone suggested this book to me a while ago, but having grown up with mythology instead of the normal fairytales and having studied classics, I thought that it would just be a waste of time. Luckily, I decided to ignore my prejudice and give it a try. I really enjoyed this book as it is very well written, gripping and delightfully funny.

The Olympian Gods live among mortals in modern day London, but as they are almost forgotten and people don't worship them as much as they used to, their powers are fading. However, that does not stop them from being as nasty and spoiled as they used to be back when they were all powerful. When they are not working for a living, doing ridiculous human jobs, like Artemis' dog walking, Aphrodite's phone sex business and Apollo's clairvoyance television program, they still pass their free time plotting against each other and devising silly pranks. Their immortal lives become really complicated when one of their pranks involves a very British young couple; nice and naive Alice and her almost boyfriend Neil.

This lovely book is written with a great sense of humour and it is very easy to read. Knowledge of Greek mythology is not necessary in order to enjoy the story, but knowing a few things about the Olympians and the way they usually behaved in mythology might help you appreciate the humour even more. Highly recommended!
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Fine, Fun Read, 13 Sep 2008
By 
Mr. David Thomas Moore "Aussie Dave" (Reading, Berks UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Gods Behaving Badly (Paperback)
Nestling uncomfortably under a brightly block-coloured cover with a cute, handwriting-effect title, this book understandably led a friend of mine to ask, "Are you reading a chick-lit?" While Gods Behaving Badly has a light-hearted, gently ironic tone that wouldn't be out of place in a Bridget Jones book or the like, and comes complete with a happy rom-com ending, it's poorly served by its presentation.

The ancient Greek gods have lived in London since the 1660s. Their power is diminishing (suggesting that they are finally succumbing to age and at risk of dying), they miss being important and adored, and they're heartily sick of each other, until Apollo, through a thoughtless act of cruelty to a mortal and a trivial slight against Aphrodite, unintentionally sets off a chain of events that radically affects them, the world and the lives of a small handful of mortals that wander unwittingly into their affairs.

To be fair, I love this kind of thing. Neil Gaiman does it all the time, and I lap it up. But Philips has an engaging approach to it. For one thing, while Gaiman's gods are very post-modern, more or less integrated into the modern world while self-consciously referencing ancient archetypes, Philips' gods are the real deal and couldn't give an arse about anything that happened after about 300 BCE. For another, while most other contemporary fantasies about the gods are more or less ecumenical - every god that people believe in is simultaneously real, and therefore none of their claims of absolute primacy are entirely valid - in Gods Behaving Badly the Greek gods are the really, absolutely, real gods and everyone else before and since has been wrong. Even (and especially) the Christians, who are therefore in for something of a shock given that they represent a clear majority (although, in a particularly fine nod to absurdism, Eros is a Christian in spite of knowing with certainty that the Christian God isn't actually real).

The story itself, while very modern and very natural, is also a perfect Greek divine myth, straight out of Ovid or Herodotus; a petty squabble between Gods ends up being a matter of life and death to several mortals; someone dies, there is a journey to the Underworld, and the day is ultimately saved by courage and virtue more than by power or guile.

The style is pacy, immersive and fun. Philips manages most of the writing in a light banter that captures the utter thoughtlessness of the Gods (and the banality of the particular mortals in question) perfectly, interspersed with some fine sections of more sober prose when suited and one or two pieces of grotesque black comedy that actually made me laugh out loud.

A fine, fun read. Well worth the day or two it'll take to read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Breezy "High Concept" Beach Read, 8 Dec 2007
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Gods Behaving Badly (Hardcover)
This breezy, and altogether "lite" book is what Hollywood would call a "high concept" romantic comedy. Basically, the pantheon of ancient Greek gods has seen their power wane over the years as humanity has turned to other belief systems. As a result, the present finds them reduced to sharing a shabby house in London, more or less killing time in silly jobs as Hera attempts to figure out how to rebuild their power. For example, Apollo is a cheesy wannabe TV psychic, Artemis is a dog-walker, Demeter potters around in the garden, Dionysus runs a nightclub, and Aphrodite is a phone-sex operator.

This is all mildly amusing enough, but the real interest comes when a spat between Apollo and Aphrodite brings two mortals into the Olympians' orbit. Neil and Alice are two shy nerds (she a cleaning lady with a linguistics degree, he an engineer), who can't manage to articulate their mutual attraction over games of Scrabble. But when they get caught up in the machinations of the gods, they are forced to muster their courage in order to admit their feelings, and even more importantly, escape a perilous trip trip to the underworld. This trip to the underworld is probably the book's highlight, as the tone shifts from the aboveground campy romp to a more interesting and surreal dead zone.

On the whole, the book is fine for passing a train ride or day at the beach, but the writing doesn't have that much personality to be read for literary merit. Prior knowledge of the Greek mythos isn't required, although it may add to one's enjoyment. One thing that seems rather is lazy is how Phillips takes a single strand of a deity's personality and amplifies it for plot and comedic purposes. For example, in the book Apollo is a selfish deity mainly concerned with sex, however "traditional" Apollo is the patron deity of medicine/healing and truth, the latter of which is notably absent from his personality, the former of which isn't mentioned until the climax. Another thing that's unclear is why Ares and Hermes appear to have retained a great deal of power and influence, while the others have not. Yet another is why these gods have relocated to London in the first place, when presumably they would have found more believers in more "old-world" lands.

However, once you start looking for logical flaws in a book like this, you're kind of missing its point. This is meant as a light-hearted and sometimes sexually graphic comic romp, and as such, it more or less suffices. Of course it's worth noting that there are a number of other books with essentially the same premise of placing "gods" in the modern world, for example: American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Nightlife of the Gods by Thorne Smith, Deus Ex Machina by Maria Arago, and the graphic novel Light Brigade by Peter Tomasi.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary twist on the Greek legends - what WOULD they do in modern London?, 9 Oct 2014
By 
K. J. Noyes "Katy Noyes" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Gods Behaving Badly (Paperback)
I looked this up after enjoying Phillips' latest (The Table of Less Valued Knights) set in a rather hilarious Arthurian quest setting. The idea of Greek gods living in contemporary London sounded like a light and fun little read, nothing too heavy or moral.

And it's just that. I loved the Greek gods and myths as a child, am still familiar with the stories, so it was a lot of fun to see my favourites all living together in a rather dingy London townhouse, sharing rooms and getting under each others' skin. With dwindling powers, they've had to take on a variety of jobs - Apollo is now a TV psychic, Artemis walks dogs, my favourite though is Aphrodite, using her skills as a phone sex operative. In such cramped conditions, you'd expect squabbles to take place. And one will. The Big One. A small argument that starts with a love arrow soon escalates to encompass all of humanity and will require trips to the Underworld, bargaining, and even a small issue with the Sun...

And of course, these gods interact with the mortals of London living obliviously around them. One pair, the smitten Neil and his object of love, cleaner Alice, will become more entangled with the family than they could ever have wanted.

I found this a light and fun read. It's all very silly, but it carries you along on the tide of ancient myths crossed with a modern setting. If you're a fan of the mythology, and are happy for them to be tinkered with, here's a book for you.

I think I preferred The Less Valued Knights, but I'm glad I listened to this (audio-CD version). Pleasant to listen to, made me smile. Would look out for more by the author.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Gods behaving pettily, 24 July 2008
By 
Ms. E. L. Scott "brokenangelkisses" (Berkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gods Behaving Badly (Hardcover)
The basic premise of the story is simple: imagine if the Greek Gods were still living, or existing, in a decrepit house in Islington. They are the same squabbling, bickering, incestuous family that myths were made of, but their powers are waning and they are entirely disregarded by the mortals that they consider so unimportant. Their powers and responsibilities remain true to history, but Phillips has given them appropriate, modern jobs; gorgeous Aphrodite is a phone sex worker while her attention-seeking nephew and lover Apollo plans to make his debut as a TV psychic. Due to various revenge plots, a mythic quest ensues after a mortal cleaner with a would-be boyfriend is employed to restore some kind of order.

After Artemis meets a surprising tree, the narration initially follows various characters to establish their role. Phillips acutely conveys the boredom the gods are enduring by showing the mundane nature of even supposedly exciting moments and suggesting that one character's revenge on another might be `swift and no doubt deadly, but at least it would pass the time.' The introduction of the human characters seems dull in comparison; this may be intentional, to suggest that their humdrum lives need livening up. Indeed, although they like each other, they seem barely able to admit this to themselves, let alone each other. Their circumspection is almost irritating and it is through their later involvement with the gods that theirs becomes an epic love story.

Drawing on events and roles from mythology, Phillips drops hints and updates the details of the gods' lives throughout the novel. Her style is easy to read and follow, until poor Athena, who is the goddess of wisdom but fails to communicate her brilliant ideas to the others since, as Artemis notes, `wisdom and clarity are not quite the same thing'. Many turns of phrase are amusing but ultimately the humour of the novel is drawn from the twists and turns that result from character interactions and conversations: Alice's response to Apollo's elaborate description of life in ancient Greece; a guard's puzzled response to Neil; the way Artemis announces her presence and role to the same guard.

Although this is a very humorous and often enjoyable tale, it is not a particularly meaningful or exciting one and seems unlikely to stick in the mind. The ending itself, without giving away any details, removes all possibility of real tragedy and seems undeveloped. A good beach read, but there is nothing here to really challenge the mind.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good, quick, lightweight read, 21 Oct 2011
By 
Cleona Wallace "cleonawallace" (Rome, Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gods Behaving Badly (Paperback)
Of course this book is not highbrow literature, but I found it an enjoyable nonetheless. I read it in hardly any time and for me it offered a light time-out from the rather heavier books I've been reading recently (such as the brilliant 'History of God' by Karen Armstrong).

I am a sometimes-homesick Londoner, plus I am a history geek who loves stories about Olympian mythology, so maybe I am being especially kind. But while I do agree with some other reviewers here that the characters could have been fleshed out a little more, I thought that all in all, it wasn't too bad. It almost seemed to me that this was an introduction of sorts, and maybe that the author had (still does?) intended to write a series, focusing on some of the other deities in more detail in later books.
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Gods Behaving Badly
Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips (Paperback - 29 May 2008)
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