Daughters of Sparta – Claire Heywood

It does not often happen that I receive a review copy and read it on the same day. But that is exactly how it played out with Daughters of Sparta. I couldn’t resist the lure of the shiny gold foil and once in the world of Ancient Greece and Troy I couldn’t snap out of it again until the story was over. I am thrilled that 2021 is bringing so many books inspired by mythology – just my thing.

Massive thanks to Maria at Hodder for sending me a review copy, all opinions are my own.

RELEASE DATE: 22/07/2021

STAR RATING: 4.5/5 ✶

SUMMARY: As princesses of Sparta, Helen and Klytemnestra have known nothing but luxury and plenty. With their high birth and unrivalled beauty, they are the envy of all of Greece.

Such privilege comes at a high price, though, and their destinies are not theirs to command. While still only girls they are separated and married off to legendary foreign kings Agamemnon and Menelaos, never to meet again. Their duty is now to give birth to the heirs society demands and be the meek, submissive queens their men expect.

But when the weight of their husbands’ neglect, cruelty and ambition becomes too heavy to bear, they must push against the constraints of their sex to carve new lives for themselves – and in doing so make waves that will ripple throughout the next three thousand years. (from Hodder & Stroughton)

OPINIONS: Daughters of Sparta is extremely compelling. I’ve always wanted to know more about Helen – who is such a catalyst in the Homerian epic, but such a passive figure without a voice of her own. Traditionally she is reduced merely to her beauty, when really, she should be presented as a woman in her own right, making decisions that have repercussions rippling across all of Ancient Greece and Troy. And her sister Klytemnestra – famous for murdering her husband – is often similarly pigeonholed due to a single moment in her legendary life, missing all the other moments that led to this one. In this novel, Claire Heywood manages to make the sisters into flawed women, trying to live their lives the best they can.

Neither Helen nor Klytemnestra are presented as heroines – or villainesses, for that matter – in the story. They are simply human. They struggle, they suffer, they make mistakes. And they are at the mercy of men. Because no matter how feminist one wants to present this story, that remains a central aspect of it – both of their lives were heavily driven by the whims of men – fathers, husbands, lovers. And while the reader knows how this story goes, it is after all one that is thousands of years old, Claire Heywood packages it in a compelling voice that leaves the reader captivated and unable to stop reading on. Daughters of Sparta is an excellent example for the magic of strong characterisations and emotional investment being the crucial ingredients in a fantastic book.

If you want to join me in my squeeing about mythology, you can add Daughters of Sparta to your Goodreads here, and pre-order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

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