A modern, intoxicating and gripping backstory to the Trojan Wars reimagined from the perspective of three lesser known female characters - Elektra, Cassandra and Clytemnestra. An explosive retelling of a popular Greek myth.
- best book club reads -
BY JENNIFER SAINT
‘Elektra’ by Jennifer Saint is the author’s second novel, reimagining another classical myth taken from the perspective of three lesser known female characters - Elektra, Cassandra and Clytemnestra. The novel is a modern, intoxicating and gripping backstory to the Trojan Wars in which 1,000 ships famously set sail to Troy to see the return of Helen. The legendary tale is flipped and we the reader get the chance to imagine a different tale with an alternative narrative. But this is a marmite read for the summer!
‘Elektra’ revolves around the story of two cursed families - the House of Atreus and the House of Troy. The former house is tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance which they blame on their forefathers and the gods. The House of Troy is doomed with the return of Paris who had been banished by his parents as a baby to protect the city from their own cursed household.
Clytemnestra - The first voice in the novel is that of Clytemnestra who marries Agamemnon, ignoring the ‘curse’ of her husband's family. Her hopes of averting the curse are dashed when her sister Helen (who is also married into the same family) is taken to Troy by Paris. Whilst it unclear whether Helen leaves with Paris willingly, Agamemnon raises a great army to win her back, whatever the cost. But Clytemnestra questions the futility of this war. ‘Is she worth a thousand ships, tens of thousands of our men?'
Cassandra - Meanwhile in Troy, the reader is introduced to Cassandra, Princess of Tory who is cursed by Apollo to see the future but never considered a credible voice by her own family. Instead she is powerless in the knowledge to realise that her city will fall.
Elektra - Before long the third voice, that of Elektra, provides a new perspective with conflicting thoughts and unexpected views. Elektra is the youngest daughter of Clytemnestra and whilst horrified by the murder of her sister Iphigenia she accepts the sacrifice made by her father to the gods, who 'slit her throat for a fair wind'. Elektra is a very different voice and warrior in the story and we are gripped as readers to see if she can escape her own curse or is her destiny also bound by violence?
'Elektra' is an explosive retelling of a popular myth with an exciting pace. Saint manages to retain the tone and feel of a Greek tragedy whilst providing a more emotive and nuanced narrative. The Den recommend the audio book edition as the voices work brilliantly in unfolding the story.
If you enjoyed 'Elektra', the Den would recommend Saint's debut novel, 'Ariadne', now available in paperback.