The Children of Jocasta
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In The Children of Jocasta, Natalie Haynes retells the Oedipus and Antigone stories from the perspectives of the women the myths overlooked.
My siblings and I have grown up in a cursed house, children of cursed parents . . .
Jocasta is just fifteen when she is told that she must marry the King of Thebes, an old man she has never met. Her life has never been her own, and nor will it be, unless she outlives her strange, absent husband.
Ismene is the same age when she is attacked in the palace she calls home. Since the day of her parents’ tragic deaths a decade earlier, she has always longed to feel safe with the family she still has. But with a single act of violence, all that is about to change.
With the turn of these two events, a tragedy is set in motion. But not as you know it.
A passionate and gripping account of a famously dysfunctional family. Haynes balances a fresh take on the material with a deep love for her sources, wearing her scholarship with grace, and giving new voice to the often-overlooked but fascinating Jocasta and Ismene. * Madeline Miller, Orange Prize winning author of The Song of Achilles * Haynes has written her own version of the tragedy, finding new space in the narrative by looking at it through the eyes of two characters neglected by antiquity: Oedipus's mother/bride Jocasta and their youngest daughter Ismene . . . Some of this novel's greatest satisfactions come from the way Haynes translates the story out of the mythic and into a naturalistic register of love, loss and ambition . . . The ancient city state comes vividly alive in Haynes's hands, and canny deviations from the archetypal outline keep the suspense going. In The Children of Jocasta, Haynes has written a fine new story between the old lines. * Spectator * A wonderful and inventive take on an ancient tale -- Antonia Senior * The Times * Atmospherically evoking a landscape of longed-for lakes and dark mountains, Haynes also subtly explores the "space between us and them" - between rulers and the people; parents and children; our personas and most secret selves * Observer * Haynes's fascination with this long vanished world is evident in every line . . . Her Thebes... is vividly captured: a place of hard light and sharp shadows, dust, fountains and dry heat. * Guardian * Haynes is master of her trade, crafting perfect sentences and believable characters who speak and think in delicately nuanced language. [She] succeeds in breathing warm life into some of our oldest stories to show how remarkably little basic human relationships and emotions have changed * Telegraph * In this gripping novel, Haynes takes us to the breaking heart of one epically dysfunctional family and makes heroines of those previously doomed to be spectators of their own tragedy * Damian Barr, author of Maggie & Me * Nearly every page of Natalie Haynes's The Children of Jocasta could stand alone as poetry. This is a visceral, engrossing, and meticulously-crafted reimagining of two of the most important stories of all time. A truly remarkable feat * Dr Amanda Foreman * New life is breathed into a powerful ancient story through Natalie Haynes's clever and vivid story telling. * Martha Kearney * Glorious, gripping and brutal . . . I loved it * Victoria Derbyshire * Natalie Haynes takes on Sophocles in her vivid and affecting second novel -- Fiction to look out for in 2017 * Observer *
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