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Book Review of 'Ariadne' by Jennifer Saint

I am a homemaker, mother and a wife. I have a passion for books. I always like to know about different books and love to read them.

About the Author and the Book

Jennifer Saint is an English author as well as a teacher. She has a great interest in Greek mythology and loves literature and creative writing. She is living in England with her husband and two children. She has written two novels till now – Ariadne and Elektra.

Ariadne is her debut novel. It is the retelling of a Greek myth. It was published in the year 2021 by the publisher Headline Publishing Group. It became Sunday Times Bestseller and was shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2021.

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Storyline

Ariadne is the daughter of mighty King Minos(the King of Crete) and Pasiphae. She has a little sister Phaedra, whom she loves a lot and is always very protective of her. Her brother Deucalion is sent to live with his uncle.

Once Minos, in desperation of proving his worth, prays to Poseidon, the God of Sea, to send him a magnificent bull. He swears that he will sacrifice it to honor God. But when the bull arrives, seeing its beauty, Minos changes his mind and sacrifices some other bull. This makes Poseidon angry and he makes Mion’s wife Pasiphae insane with her passion for the bull. From the union of Pasiphae and the bull, a half-human and half-bull Minotaur is born. When Minotaur grows big, it becomes harder to contain him. He becomes monstrous and a danger to everybody. King Minos asks his skilled craftsman Daedalus to construct a Labyrinth underneath the palace floor with dead ends and contort passages. He wants it to be built so that Minotaur is kept there.

Minos also orders fourteen children from Athens to be fed to Minotaur every year. Theseus, the Prince of Athens replaces one of the children with himself and comes to Crete to be fed by Minotaur. On seeing Theseus, Ariadne falls in love with him and thereby helps him in killing Minotaur.

Theseus takes Ariadne with him with the promise to marry her but leaves her on a deserted island Naxos. When she is almost sure of her death on the island, Dionysus, the God of wine comes. She gets saved and marries Dionysus but even after that, her life doesn’t remain smooth.

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On the other hand, Ariadne’s sister becomes Queen of Athens by marrying Theseus.

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Evaluation

A fascinating book on the retelling of Greek mythology. The story is very detailed, emotive, and poignant. It is written from the perspective of Ariadne and there are also chapters from the perspective of her sister Phaedra. There are feminist messages in the book. The author has used very descriptive language and the characters are brought to life. Although the title of the book is Ariadne and most of the story is from her perspective, many other characters seemed equally very powerful and important.

The story revolves around the relationship between two sisters, Ariadne and Phaedra. There is the complexity of relationships, concealings, and refutations. The novel is more about women and has shown their vulnerability. Women were not having much control over their life. Mostly, the men and Gods were deciding their fate.

Those who like Greek myths must be knowing the story of Ariadne even before reading the book. Hence, some of the readers may not agree with everything written in the book, especially the ending of Ariadne's life, as there are different versions of it. Even then, the book is an emotional read, written wholeheartedly, and readers can get sucked into it.

I would recommend the book to all the adults whether they have or not have any interest in Greek mythology. Having said that, for those who don’t enjoy reading feminine novels or the books related to the vulnerability of females in the past, this book is not for them.

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