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House of Names
by Colm Toibin


Overview - * A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book of the Year
* Named a Best Book of 2017 by NPR, The Guardian , The Boston Globe , St. Louis Dispatch

From the thrilling imagination of bestselling, award-winning Colm T ib n comes a retelling of the story of Clytemnestra and her children--"brilliant...gripping...high drama...made tangible and graphic in T ib n's lush prose" ( Booklist , starred review).  Read more...


 
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More About House of Names by Colm Toibin
 
 
 
Overview
* A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book of the Year
* Named a Best Book of 2017 by NPR, The Guardian, The Boston Globe, St. Louis Dispatch

From the thrilling imagination of bestselling, award-winning Colm T ib n comes a retelling of the story of Clytemnestra and her children--"brilliant...gripping...high drama...made tangible and graphic in T ib n's lush prose" (Booklist, starred review).

"I have been acquainted with the smell of death." So begins Clytemnestra's tale of her own life in ancient Mycenae, the legendary Greek city from which her husband King Agamemnon left when he set sail with his army for Troy. Clytemnestra rules Mycenae now, along with her new lover Aegisthus, and together they plot the bloody murder of Agamemnon on the day of his return after nine years at war.

Judged, despised, cursed by gods, Clytemnestra reveals the tragic saga that led to these bloody actions: how her husband deceived her eldest daughter Iphigeneia with a promise of marriage to Achilles, only to sacrifice her; how she seduced and collaborated with the prisoner Aegisthus; how Agamemnon came back with a lover himself; and how Clytemnestra finally achieved her vengeance for his stunning betrayal--his quest for victory, greater than his love for his child.

House of Names "is a disturbingly contemporary story of a powerful woman caught between the demands of her ambition and the constraints on her gender...Never before has T ib n demonstrated such range," (The Washington Post). He brings a modern sensibility and language to an ancient classic, and gives this extraordinary character new life, so that we not only believe Clytemnestra's thirst for revenge, but applaud it. Told in four parts, this is a fiercely dramatic portrait of a murderess, who will herself be murdered by her own son, Orestes. It is Orestes's story, too: his capture by the forces of his mother's lover Aegisthus, his escape and his exile. And it is the story of the vengeful Electra, who watches over her mother and Aegisthus with cold anger and slow calculation, until, on the return of her brother, she has the fates of both of them in her hands.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781501140228
  • ISBN-10: 1501140221
  • Publisher: Scribner Book Company
  • Publish Date: March 2018
  • Page Count: 288
  • Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.4 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology
Books > Fiction > Classics

 
BookPage Reviews

Book clubs: New in paperback

Victor LaValle weaves elements of fairy tales, myth and good old-fashioned horror into his latest novel, The Changeling, a chilling tale of a shattered family. Apollo Kagwa, a rare-books dealer in New York City, is married to Emma Valentine. As new parents to a boy named Brian, they’re often tired and frazzled. But Emma’s outlook worsens—she becomes short-tempered and distant, even from Brian—and the change is a harbinger of things to come. Emma’s bleak mood culminates in a terrible, life-altering incident, after which she disappears without a trace. When Apollo crosses paths with a stranger who may know what became of Emma, he embarks on a remarkable hunt that leads him to a lonely island and a cemetery, among other spooky locales. LaValle skillfully blends genres in this unforgettable narrative of one man’s struggle to make sense of the world. Named a top book of 2017 by Time and USA Today, this haunting story stays with the reader long after the last page is turned.

THE CURTAIN RISES
Colm Tóibín’s House of Names is a masterful retelling of the ancient Greek tale of the House of Atreus, which was brought to life in the plays of Euripides, Aeschylus and Sophocles. Taking a cue from the work of those dramatists, Tóibín’s novel follows Clytemnestra, who, with the help of her lover, plans the murder of her husband, King Agamemnon, to avenge his sacrifice of their daughter during the Trojan War. The novel also recounts the stories of Clytemnestra’s son, Orestes, who is living in exile, and her other daughter, Electra, who is driven by demons of her own. Comprised of four sections that focus upon each of the main characters, the book’s structure produces a rich, multilayered effect that underscores the duplicity and deceit endemic to the relationships of Clytemnestra and her kin. Chosen as a best book of 2017 by NPR, Tóibín’s latest novel—his 11th—is a gripping work of fiction filled with drama and betrayal.

TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS
With her taut, suspenseful novel I Found You, British author Lisa Jewell has produced a nail-biter that will appeal to fans of Paula HawkinsThe Girl on the Train. In the fictional seaside town of Ridinghouse Bay, single mother Alice Lake encounters a strange man on the beach. He has no memory of how he arrived there, and Alice takes him to her home and tries to help him. The man may have connections to Lily Monrose, a Ukrainian living in London whose new husband recently disappeared. When Lily learns from the police that the man on the beach was carrying a false passport, she sets out to find him and learn his true story. Jewell entwines these strands with a narrative set 23 years in the past involving teenagers in Ridinghouse Bay who attract the attention of another strange man. She skillfully ties the threads together in an unforgettable mystery that keeps the reader guessing until the end.

 

This article was originally published in the March 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
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