Review: Ariadne

Ariadne Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ariadne of Greek mythology, the daughter who betrayed her father and helped Theseus find his way through the labyrinth and kill the minotaur (her brother), gains a rich and layered narrative through the skillful prose of Jennifer Saint. But it is not just Ariadne's story but her sister, Phaedra as well and Saint weaves a story to which both the readers and the two protagonists discover the ways in which the Gods and the men acted with all egos and little consideration for others. The result is that women inevitably suffered; particularly, those women who resisted the status quo. Indeed, Saint reminds readers of Ariadne's family line which includes women such as Medea and other women who were seen as subversive. In this retelling, Ariadne and Phaedra both regal their stories through their own points of view, trying to find strength and power in the situations they find themselves in: Phaedra unwillingly marries Theseus while the abandoned Ariadne encounters and marries the god, Dionysus. Over the years, the separation and tension between the characters build until, of course, confrontations ensue. What's powerful about Saint's approach is the centering around the women's lives and how they reconcile their situations that reflect the modern world: Phaedra is a modern working woman who married for opportunity but finds no interest in the children she is expected to bore, whereas Ariadne has married for love, but buries herself in her children to avoid wondering about the changes that have occurred in her husband over the years. For those that enjoy retellings of mythology with added nuance and consideration, such as Circe, House of Names, or The Penelopiad, this is a good one to add to the list.

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