Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Iliad by Homer

TOLSTOY CALLED THE ILIAD A miracle; Goethe said that it always thrust him into a state of astonishment. Homer’s story is thrilling, and his Greek is perhaps the most beautiful poetry ever sung or written. But until now, even the best English translations haven’t been able to re-create the energy and simplicity, the speed, grace, and pulsing rhythm of the original. In Stephen Mitchell’s Iliad, the epic story resounds again across 2,700 years, as if the lifeblood of its heroes Achilles and Patroclus, Hector and Priam flows in every word. And we are there with them, amid the horror and ecstasy of war, carried along by a poetry that lifts even the most devastating human events into the realm of the beautiful. 

I am taking a history course right now and find this time period fascinating. This was an audio read for me and I am glad that I went that route with this book.  The reader did a wonderful job and I felt like I was right there, his tone of voice was perfect, smooth and easy to listen to.  

This is a new translation and I was drawn by the cover (covers do it to me all the time).  Stephen Mitchell has translated other poems and comes highly recommended.

About the story, I know next to nothing about the Trojan wars (only that it lasted 10 years) and from the movie Troy.  My course didn't really dwell much on it either.  I found this poem was focused quite a bit on the gods and knowing nothing not much about them I learned a lot.  Sort of a who is who of gods.  There was also a lot of names and at one point thought that I was going to actually hear about each of the 1000 ships and who was one them.  Am I complaining?  No I really enjoying this audio it brought a time period to life for me that was hard to imagine and I am glad I took the time read it.  Honestly I think I can see myself reading this one again too.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Elizabeth I by Margaret George

 Elizabeth Tudor, queen of enigma-the Virgin Queen who had many suitors, the victor of the Armada who hated war; the gorgeously attired, jewel- bedecked woman who pinched pennies. England's greatest monarch has baffled and intrigued the world for centuries. But what was she really like?

In this novel, her flame-haired, lookalike cousin, Lettice Knollys, thinks she knows all too well. Elizabeth's rival for the love of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and mother to the Earl of Essex, the mercurial nobleman who challenged Elizabeth's throne, Lettice had been intertwined with Elizabeth since childhood. This is a story of two women of fierce intellect and desire, one trying to protect her country, and throne, the other trying to regain power and position for her family and each vying to convince the reader of her own private vision of the truth about Elizabeth's character. Their gripping drama is acted out at the height of the flowering of the Elizabethan age. Shakespeare, Marlowe, Dudley, Raleigh, Drake-all of them swirl through these pages as they swirled through the court and on the high seas.

This is a magnificent, stay-up-all-night page-turner that is George's finest and most compelling novel and one that is sure to please readers of Alison Weir, Philippa Gregory, and Hilary Mantel.

I have never read a Margaret George novel, I have only listened to them.  This is my second listen (Memoirs of Cleopatra, being the first).  With the right reader an audio book can be a truly wonderful experience.  Elizabeth I was a truly wonderful experience.

Kate Reading did a marvelous job, with her accent it felt like Elizabeth herself was telling her story.  Margaret George wrote a story that kept me wanting for more.  Even though the book starts off in 1588, it does jog back and forth in time and it does this very smoothly, as current situations bring them about. Also alternating between Elizabeth and Lettice (her cousin) it brought another point of view.  

Margaret George is a very talented author, I look forward to 'not' reading more of her books.  I am thinking Helen of Troy sounds interesting.