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The Latinist

A Novel

by Mark Prins

The Latinist by Mark Prins X
The Latinist by Mark Prins
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  • Published Jan 2022
    336 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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There are currently 27 member reviews
for The Latinist
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  • Judy W. (Tucker, GA)
    The Latinist by Mark Prins
    The author presents an intricate twist of words in this debut novel to engage the reader in the age old story of love, obsession, exploitation of power and intense ambition using the myth of Apollo and Daphne as his backdrop. It is a difficult book to immediately like--it will take the reader over 100 pages to really become "hooked"! Although the complex character studies are outstanding, the description of locales in England and Italy are breathtaking, the use of the English language is beautiful, this novel would not be appreciated by those with no training in academia or classical literature. I would recommend The Latinist for book clubs as it lends itself to much discussion.
  • Cassandra W
    The Latinist by Mark Prins
    Through the main characters of Tessa Templeton, PhD candidate and her mentor Chris Eccles, Oxford Professor, the author presents a contemporary re-envisioning of the Greek myth of Apollo and Daphne.

    It was disappointing that there was so little dialogue between Chris and Tessa regarding Chris’s letter of recommendation and the perceived negative impact upon Tessa. The author left very little for me to care about in either of the characters.

    The middle of the book where Tessa goes to Italy was tedious and dull. The final part of the book was gratuitous and left me wondering whether we can truly ever know anyone.
  • Betsey V. (Austin, TX)
    Over the top denouement
    In the past year, I think Norton has given me some of my favorite books. This is the first Norton or World Editions novel I've read in a long time that didn't succeed for me. It is an expressly ambitious story for a debut novelist, and the author fell into some of the freshman traps of writing. Despite his lovely handling of the Latin language and the themes of Daphne and Apollo woven into the characters of Tessa and Christopher, I felt that the narrative was a bit self-conscious and too clever for its own good. I chose to read it based on falling in love with the Bernini sculptures I saw at the Borghese Gallery in Rome. Prins certainly nailed the potential meaning of the art, as well as showing us that interpretation can be blind, even the accepted ones in academia.

    Prins is thorough with creating characters, and his theme of love v possession was intriguing. The author aimed to parallel the Apollo/Daphne relationship with a contemporary one in scholarly echo chambers. However, it took too long for lift-off--the story was protracted and needed another run-through/edit to skim the fat and smooth it out. The climactic scene, also, may be improved if they made a movie version, but the execution here was too contrived, and frankly turned my stomach. I don't mind being revolted, but I was more disgusted than engaged. It felt excessive by the end, with a finale that was hammy and incredulous.

    Also, the author was all over the place with Chris' character, the head of the Humanities/Classics department at Westfaling School at Oxford, and Tessa's mentor. His nature wasn't consistent, and the author would undermine himself by changing Chris' personality to move the plot in a certain direction. I felt that the violence in the last third of the book was artificially discharged. However, Prins can write, and he's also capable of using his imagination. I would have been more engaged if the narrative was a bit more polished.
  • Joy E. (Rockville, MD)
    Turning the Tables on an Ancient Myth
    The Latinist by Mark Prins is an academic novel, featuring the power relationship between a male Oxford don and his promising female student and protégé. It is also is framed as a re-envisioning of the Apollo and Daphne myth—an ardent lover and a resistant maiden. The politics of the classical studies world is well presented, with some clever twists. This would be an entertaining and engaging book if it were not overburdened with the minutiae of Latin prosody. Clever parallels between the contemporary story and the classical narratives provide nice touches.

    The author notes that much of the poetry in the text is fictional. Unfortunately, showcasing his Latin skills distracts and detracts from the main tale.
  • Randi H. (Bronx, NY)
    The Latinist
    The Latinist did not totally work for me. I didn't feel connected to either of the main characters -- Ph.D. candidate Tessa Templeton and her mentor Oxford professor Chris Eccles. And although I generally love to learn something while reading fiction, at times I felt that this book went into too much detail on ancient Roman poets, Latin, and the studies/work of Tessa and Chris. In my opinion, the depth of details sometimes slowed the story down.

    I suspect this might be a good book for a book club, as there is much to discuss including love/obsession, family relationships, and professional callings.
  • Catherine H. (Nashua, NH)
    Wake me up when the book is over
    I tried and tried but just couldn't go on reading over 100 pages. Academia nerds should not be allowed to "write" pseudo "academia thrillers" books. Please stick to teaching and spare us poor mortals.

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