Read advance reader review of Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati

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A Novel

by Costanza Casati

Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati X
Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati
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  • First Published:
    May 2023, 448 pages

    Jan 2, 2024, 450 pages


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  • Cassandra W
    A Modern Retelling of a Greek Myth
    Costanza Casati’s debut novel is a creative retelling of the life of Clytemnestra, a classical heroine of Greek mythology. She is strong, powerful, fearless, ambitious, and loyal. A woman who is unwilling to be solely defined by the culture and norms of her time. The story is complex and not a quick read. To assist the reader, the author provides helpful family trees, a comprehensive list of characters with descriptions a glossary of Ancient Greek.

    Casati writes to create the times of Ancient Greece: concealing impeccable research behind beautiful and lyrical prose. Having read “The Song of Achilles”, “Ariadne”, and “Circe”, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it.
  • Mary G. (Greensboro, GA)
    It takes a fierce queen to rule in a brutal world.
    Costanza Casati's absorbing novel, Clytemnestra, transports the reader to a world, familiar through classic literature, that rewards brutality yet honors beauty, that trains women to be warriors then uses them as pawns, and where honor is paramount yet deceit is rampant.

    In Clytemnestra, Casati has found the perfect subject to capture the intriguing history of the early Greeks. Born a Spartan princess, Clytemnestra was a trained warrior. She was at once powerful and powerless. While her younger sister, Helen, had the beauty, Clytemnestra had the brains, the cunning, and the heart of a warrior. Clytemnestra proved to be a formidable and vengeful foe; but, her softer side was also clearly evident in her love for her family.

    Readers will be engrossed by this vivid, nuanced depiction of a fascinating time and a captivating heroine.
  • Shannon L. (Portland, OR)
    A Woman Ahead of her Time
    Set in Ancient Greece around 650 BC, author Costanza Casati has chosen Clytemnestra for her debut novel. Clytemnestra, humanized from the most well-known of the Greek myths, was a queen, a mother, a murderess and a warrior who led a life of love, hate, jealousy and power. Clytemnestra was the daughter of King Tyndareus and Leda, the twin sister of Helen, princess of Sparta, the eventual wife of Agamemnon and the Queen of Mycenae. She was a woman bred for power in a world that wasn't ready for her.

    Casati faithfully follows the works of Aeschylus to write Clytemnestra's life. As elements are stripped away and focus is on seeing these characters as mortal humans, the story is no longer just a fantasy. This carefully drawn piece of historical fiction connects a variety of familiar myths, family feuds, war and daily life in the world of Ancient Greece.

    Clytemnestra is divided into five chronological parts. The story begins in Sparta where Clytemnestra was raised. Casati lays the ground work to show that Clytemnestra saw herself on equal footing with men and the survival skills of a warrior mentality. Casati shows a different side or her infamous sister, Helen, and her part in the Trojan War.

    An early life full a tragedy shapes Clytemnestra's intense approach in early adulthood. This was a very tough time to be a really strong, assertive woman. She had lots to learn and develop the courage to use it. Experience alters Clytemnestra and we see it as she confronts each loss, fear and woe. Sometimes, she crumbles and sometimes she hardens, but she always fights her way through.

    Casati develops Clytemnestra as a powerful female protagonist and a character with which you will develop a love/hate relationship. This is Clytemnestra's story, in her own words, and even then the truths illuminated were harshly exposed.

    Always staying true to Greek myths and legends, Casati casts a new light on Clytemnestra, the most hated queen of ancient Greece. You will suffer with her, you will love intensely as she does, and ultimately you will seek her revenge like it was your own.

    Casati was born in Texas, in 1995, grew up in Northern Italy and lived in London for five years. She studied Ancient Greek and Greek literature at a classical Liceo in Italy and went on to graduate school in the Warwick Writing Program. Her passion for ancient history shines in her work. I loved Clytemnestra and can hardly wait for her next novel.
  • Peggy K. (Frederick, CO)
    A Faithful, Forceful Vision of Clytemnestra's Vengeance
    Having read another very good novel about Clytemnestra recently, I thought: how can this be any better? I was rightfully put in my place by Constanza Casati in her simply titled "Clytemnestra." Casati provides a much different picture than other recent novels have painted of this formidable Greek figure, a more expansive one that follows existing and alternate tellings of Clytemnestra's life. For one, Casati follows the path of Clytemnestra's first marriage to the mythical Tantalus and their doomed happiness at the hands of the cunning, cruel Agamemnon. Casati's prose is riveting and her characters leap and lunge off the page, much like the young female Spartiates who train daily to be warrior mothers. And that is all in the first two acts alone. This is a rich, indulgent, and shattering novel that is uniquely its own; indeed, Clytemnestra has never been more fierce or her vengeance more patient than in Casati's able hands.
  • Robin S. (Suwanee, GA)
    Enduring the Cost of Survival to Become a Leader
    Put aside any hesitation about reading a novel set in the world of ancient Greece. The author gently navigates the reader through the maze of historical characters and places so that Clytemnestra's personal story can clearly unfold. The savage fighting skills she learned as a Princess of Sparta will sustain her through tragic losses while simultaneously providing her with ability to maintain her focus on loyalty and love of her family. This is a journey to be experienced!
  • Alison F. (Clearwater, FL)
    Her Own Voice
    Finally an author takes on Agamemnon's "vengeful" wife and her life story in this modern feminist retelling of the Greek stories of Troy. I was late jumping on board with the retellings but Casati's contribution here is fantastic and presents dimension, intelligence and understanding to this character and the brave woman that she was. I am lucky to have had an opportunity to read this early and highly recommend. This is not a quick read but is beautifully written. Enjoy!
  • Alyson R. (Spokane, WA)
    Clytemenestra is a given a narrative finally!
    Clytemenestra, wife of Agamemnon, who in the Greek tragic plays The Oresteia by Aeschylus is demonized as a power-hungry disgraceful murderess, here is given a voice and personhood by author Constanza Casati. She breathes humanity into the title character as a multi-faceted thinking and feeling woman who defines her own story. She faces physical and emotional abuse, beset by one tragedy after another, but she is both strong and resilient. She is also consumed by vengeance, impacting her role as ruler, mother, and lover. Cassati's Clytemenestra is a woman warrior in a world of unspeakable cruelties delivered by men celebrated by Homer as heroes who are noble, brave, and good. Clytemenestra shines a light on women's body politics in Ancient Greece, and how not all "heroes" behave heroically.

    Recommended for those who are fans of the retelling of Greek epics from the perspectives of the women, like Circe by Madeline Miller or Ariadne by Jennifer Saint.
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