Friday, June 4, 2010

Helen of Troy

by Margaret George

It has taken me a lot longer to read this book than I anticipated; life has just become very busy! But I finally turned the last page of the last chapter, and it was with a sigh of relief and satisfaction. Margaret George never fails to entertain and educate. She helps me to feed my addiction to history.

Ah, Helen. The "face that launched a thousand ships". Was it her fault her jealous husband started a war because she left him? What if every spurned husband did that? But, I digress. Ms George brings us into the world of gods and goddesses, omens, and prophecies by giving us this insight into Helen's life. The details, the language, the vivid scenery took me back to ancient Greece as I followed Helen and Paris across the sea to Troy.

Helen's childhood, her marriage to Menalaus, her affair with Paris, and the ensuing Trojan War were exciting and entrancing. The in-between parts, I must say, did drag a bit. The war slugged on for years, and then after, when she returned to Sparta, the events lost their luster. After wreaking havoc and causing a war because of her, Menalaus seemed to easily forgive and welcome Helen back into his palace. As much as I liked Helen, I felt he should have been more harsh on her, especially in a land where murder and sacrifice were commonplace.

Learning about Aphrodite and Zeus and other gods and goddesses was the highlight of the novel. Mythology has always intrigued me, and I really enjoyed reading about the temples and the rituals and traveling to the underworld. Helen's story and the culture she lived in are both fascinating and riveting.

There's no proof at all that any of this happened. Helen, Paris, the Trojan War, Achilles...all could be just legend, oral tradition passed down through generations. But imagine if they had been real people. What adventures, what heroic feats! I love books that make me think and imagine, so this is definitely on my favorites shelf.

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