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For The Most Beautiful Paperback – 14 Jul 2016
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"Once in a while something comes along that’s so utterly right, so necessary for now, that you wonder why nobody thought of it before. Emily Hauser’s stunning debut novel . . . brings ancient Troy wildly, raucously, passionately alive and tells at last the stories of those who really mattered." (MANDA SCOTT, bestselling author of Boudica and Into the Fire)
"A feast for the senses, richly described and effortlessly easy to read. It brings to life an ancient world long gone, and in so doing reminds us of the traumas and costs of war, which are sadly still so much a part of our world today." (MICHAEL SCOTT, presenter of Rome's Invisible City)
"A delight from start to finish. Hauser’s fresh perspective on one of the great archetypal epics, in focusing on the marginalised women’s stories, makes for fascinating reading . . . a clever premise and a thoroughly enjoyable." (ELIZABETH FREMANTLE, author of Sisters of Treason)
"In her sparkling debut novel classicist Emily Hauser offers a fresh take on the old but living legend spun so artfully in Homer's Iliad . . . tells a ripping good story." (PAUL CARTLEDGE, Professor of Ancient History at Cambridge)
"A brilliant re-imagining of the Iliad, faithful to the original yet completely accessible . . . the two young women at the centre of the drama are faithfully representative of their time and place yet feel compellingly contemporary . . . Emily Hauser has given us a lively new take on a classic." (TERRY HAWKINS, author of The Rage of Achilles)
"Fascinating . . . highly convincing . . . a familiar tale told in an unfamiliar way. Presenting the story from the point of view of the women, rather than the warriors, gives Hauser's novel real edge and originality." (Nick Rennison BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE)
"Intensely described . . . there is no doubting Hauser's passionate involvement with, and knowledge of, her subject." (Elizabeth Buchan DAILY MAIL)
"Breathing life into these bit-part characters . . . written with energy and passion." (Antonia Senior THE TIMES)
"A new, feminine perspective on the events of the Iliad . . . a colourful tale of gods and mortals." (SUNDAY TIMES)
"This elegant, warm novel moves between two great Trojan beauties . . . through their stories, we witness both sides of this titanic war while feminine beauty and masculine martial prowess compete for the attention of the reader and the gods." (SUNDAY EXPRESS)
About the Author
Born in Brighton and brought up in Suffolk, EMILY HAUSER studied Classics at Cambridge, where she was taught by Mary Beard. She completed a PhD at Yale University, was a Junior Fellow at Harvard University and is now Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at Exeter University. For the Most Beautiful - the first book in the Golden Apple trilogy - was her debut novel and retells the story of the siege of Troy. Her second, For the Winner, is a reimagining of the myth of Atalanta and the legend of Jason, the Argonauts and the search for the Golden Fleece. The final book - For the Immortal - brings to brilliant life the story of the legendary Amazons and their queen, Hippolyta, and one of the ancient world's most celebrated heroes, Hercules.
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What follows is both familiar (I guess we all know the story of the fall of Troy) but what is different is that the tale unfolds through the eyes of two women, Krisayis, daughter of the Trojans' High Priest, and of Briseis, princess of Pedasus. Both are at the heart of the power of Troy, both become slaves and one the mistress of Achilles.
This is a refreshing interpretation of the tale - both in terms of the perspectives of these two strong and resourceful women but also in the way the Gods are portrayed. Selfish, mischievous, decadent - toying wantonly with mortals, there is little that is likeable about them.
Emily's style is rich sensually and the story is carried at pace so this proved to be a very quick and engaging read. If I had any criticism it would be that I would have liked to see the main characters explored with a bit more depth. I felt that this was sacrificed a little at the expense of telling the story with pace. I would have liked to linger a little longer in their reality, especially as Emily talked so eloquently about the role and experience of women of that time.
But overall I thought this was an elegant, richly described story and very accomplished for a first novel. I shall certainly red Emily's later work.
Is it worth reading? Yes but I am sure there are other books in similar who have more authentic feel.
Emily writes in an easy-to-read style and wears her considerable scholarship lightly. She has taken an interesting angle on a story familiar to many - re-telling the tale of the Trojan War through the eyes of the women mentioned in Homer, instead of the men. Readers can enjoy her work on many different levels - the traditional tale, the female viewpoint, the Eastern influence of Troy. New vistas open up with each reading. 'For the most beautiful' served as a catalyst for much worthwhile discussion. I look forward to the next offering in Emily's apple-based trilogy!