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Carolyn Meyer

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Veronica
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Carolyn Meyer

Post by Veronica » Sun April 10th, 2011, 2:46 am

I would really like to know if anyone has read any books by Carolyn Meyer.
I have not read YA since I was a YA (!) but wouldn't mind to give it a go. Therefore I wonder if anyone would recommend CM's books.

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/m/carolyn-meyer/
[SIZE="3"]"Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted"[/SIZE]

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Divia
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Post by Divia » Sun April 10th, 2011, 3:06 am

I have read Duchessina. It was a decent read. I wasn't on the edge of my seat or anything.
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rebecca191
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Post by rebecca191 » Fri April 15th, 2011, 5:42 am

I really like her books.

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rockygirl
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Post by rockygirl » Mon April 25th, 2011, 3:35 am

I read her Tudor books. They were fine for the age they were intended, but not as meaty as other YA books.

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Post by lauragill » Fri May 11th, 2012, 9:08 pm

She's currently writing a book, Beauty's Daughter, about Hermione, daughter of Helen of Troy. We'll see how well she researches it.

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Post by lauragill » Fri November 1st, 2013, 10:18 pm

Meyer's Trojan War book, Beauty's Daughter, came out October 8. In an objective frame of mind, I read and reviewed it, but did not really care for it. This was my review:

**In the interest of full disclosure, I have also written a novel about Hermione and Helen. That fact has no bearing on this review.

Ever since Ms. Meyer announced back in Spring 2012 that she was writing about Hermione and Helen, I have been looking forward to reading it.

I was very disappointed in the result. Now I am unsure about how to approach the review. Do I write as a fellow author and risk alienating Ms. Meyer or her many fans? Do I write as an enthusiast of the Late Bronze Age Aegean, which is the setting of the book? Do I write as a former English teacher? I chose to read the book as a book lover and ancient Greek enthusiast. Having written Helen's Daughter had no bearing on my opinion.

Any novel set in the 13th century B.C. and dealing with the Greek myths is going to pose a problem. There is so much backstory that modern readers probably won't be familiar with, that any author is going to have to break from the action to explain certain things. An occasional short infodump is okay as long as the action and character development don't suffer in the process. Yet I had trouble connecting with Hermione in the first chapters because of the opening infodumps. She did not leap from the page (or Kindle screen, in my case) for me. Nor did any of the other characters. Hermione does too much telling, and not enough showing. This problem persists through the first two parts of the book. Only in the third, covering the post-Trojan War period, where Ms. Meyer had greater freedom to use her imagination in describing Hermione's escape from Phthia, does the narration come alive.

Helen made me shake my head. I suppose the natural inclination of most authors and readers (and filmmakers, too, I guess) is to portray Helen as a vain, selfish, empty-headed sexpot. Maybe it's the easiest way to process her character. I for one am tired of it. History is full of sluts, but this is the woman whose face is said to have launched a thousand ships. Maybe her abduction was just a pretext for a Mycenaean invasion of Troy, I don't know, but Ms. Meyer's Helen completely lacks the charisma that would make men fight over her. We are told that Aphrodite cast a spell over Helen and Paris (and the entire Spartan citadel, to boot). Does the interference of the gods mean Helen bears no responsibility for her actions? I recall Helen in the Iliad as being much more complicated, alternately seductive, tempestuous, and remorseful. I would have liked to see that Helen here.

Another thing about that mist: it's never explained how Hermione is immune to its effects.

The gods make regular appearances in the novel. In other books like this, I've seen various authors handle the gods in different ways, with varying degrees of success. For the most part, making the gods visible and active doesn't work here, except for Hermes's appearances toward the end. That, I felt, was well done, because he only appears at the periphery of the protagonist's vision. Artemis whisking Iphigenia from the altar was not so effective. In fact, it was poorly done. I can understand Ms. Meyer wanting to spare younger readers the horror of a young girl being sacrificed by her own father, but in doing so the author removed much of Clytemnestra's motivation to later kill Agamemnon.

Perhaps the main problem I had with the book was that I never bought the idea of Hermione being present at Troy. Why would she want to follow Menelaus to Troy after what she just witnessed at Aulis? There's absolutely no way Menelaus or Agamemnon would have risked Hermione's virtue or health by allowing her to stay in the Greek camp. She was, after all, Menelaus and Helen's only remaining child, and heiress to the kingdom of Sparta. She would have been shipped straight back to Mycenae (where, in fact, she actually spent the duration of the war with her aunt Clytemnestra). Yet Menelaus isn't even angry when he discovers her in the camp.

Hermione is very matter-of-fact about life in the camp. We don't see her being afraid of rape, disease, starvation (the Greeks were regularly short of rations, I imagine), or a Trojan raid, in which she herself might end up like Astynome (Chryseis) or Hippodameia (Briseis), and abused. I'm not sure whether Ms. Meyer's editor was hovering over the manuscript with a virtual red pen to censor any objectionable material, but since instances of prostitution and rape do occur, I'm guessing these details were simply neglected.

I've noticed in a few other books that it's become commonplace to make Hermione and Orestes closer in age than the Classical sources state, with Orestes being older. According to Classical playwrights, Hermione was seven years older than Orestes, and he was about two when the Trojan War started, and no older than 12 when Agamemnon was murdered. He never went to Troy. In fact, in the Iliad, Agamemnon tells Odysseus to tell Achilles that he will make Achilles his son-in-law, as dear to him as his young son Orestes, then growing up at Mycenae "in abundant prosperity." Orestes had to wait seven years (presumably until he reached manhood) to take his revenge on Clytemnestra and Aegisthus.

The murder of that pair and Orestes's pollution felt somewhat whitewashed, at least in terms of the way Hermione reacts. The madness part the author conveys nicely, but the pollution part, not so much. Blood guilt was a very big deal in the ancient world. Hermione shouldn't even be looking at Orestes for fear of being tainted, much less talking to or touching him. I do understand, however, why Ms. Meyer chose not to mention the double curse on Orestes (and Hermione, too) by means of his descent from the House of Atreus. The Atreidai were the ultimate Greek dysfunctional family, and I think the more taboo aspects of the curse would frighten younger readers.

I did appreciate that Ms. Meyer read and incorporated bits and pieces of various Classical plays and the Homeric epics into the novel. I just wish there had been more character development and more detail. I don't know what kind of deadline the author was working under (and I know from her blog posts that she had one), but I feel the book would have benefited from more time and effort.

Readers who are intrigued by Hermione, the Trojan War, and other related topics should check out Adele Geras's novel "Troy," Margaret George's "Helen of Troy," and Eric Shanower's graphic novel series "Age of Bronze."

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