Ariadne: Book summary and reviews of Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Ariadne

by Jennifer Saint

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint X
Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

A mesmerizing debut novel for fans of Madeline Miller's Circe.

Ariadne, Princess of Crete, grows up greeting the dawn from her beautiful dancing floor and listening to her nursemaid's stories of gods and heroes. But beneath her golden palace echo the ever-present hoofbeats of her brother, the Minotaur, a monster who demands blood sacrifice every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives to vanquish the beast, Ariadne sees in his green eyes not a threat but an escape. Defying the gods, betraying her family and country, and risking everything for love, Ariadne helps Theseus kill the Minotaur. But will Ariadne's decision ensure her happy ending? And what of Phaedra, the beloved younger sister she leaves behind?

Hypnotic, propulsive, and utterly transporting, Jennifer Saint's Ariadne forges a new epic, outside the traditional narratives of heroism and glory that leave no room for women.

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The novel's epigraph is taken from Ovid's Heroides, in which Ariadne addresses Theseus: "You will stand before the crowds reciting the glorious death of the man-bull in those great winding passages cut from the rock. Be sure, then, that you also include me."What tone does this set for the story to come?
  2. In the opening pages, Ariadne tells "the story of a righteous man," her father, King Minos of Crete. Why do you think the author chose to begin there? How do we, over the course of the novel, see how problematic these "righteous men" are?
  3. As she grows up, Ariadne realizes that there is a darker side to the stories of gods and men she so often heard:"No longer was my world one of brave heroes; I was learning all too swiftly the women's ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"What happens after the monster is defeated and the princess leaves with the hero? Jennifer Saint's Ariadne is a shimmering tapestry of two sisters bound by deceit and the shadows of family history. One marries a hero, the other a god. As their lives criss-cross through girlhood and womanhood, the secrets that their husbands keep become a monstrous backdrop to their relationship. With a fresh voice and keen insight, Saint adds flesh and bone to an ancient myth, drawing the reader into an uneasy world of ever-afters." - Yangsze Choo, New York Times bestselling author of The Night Tiger

This information about Ariadne shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Frances A Ilnicky-VanAmeyden

The Mercy of the gods
For most of my life, when I thought of mythology, Edith Hamilton's name came to the fore. Now I dare say Jennifer Saint's name may well pop to mind! Her story about Adriane was captivating! Saint piqued my interest in Chapter One, and held it through the Epilogue. I was thoroughly engrossed in the story of this young female human, Ariadne, who lives with, above, and side by side gods and men. No need to tell more! Enjoy the read!

Maggie R. (Canoga Park, CA)

Another wonderful Greek mythogy novel!
This is a first rate retelling of the story of I fell down the Circe (Madeline Miller) rabbit hole a few years ago and have never looked back. They just keep coming. I'd love to see a "family" tree with references to the numerous novels that followed!

It's hard to believe this is a first novel for Jennifer Saint who read Classical Studies at King's College, London and spent the next thirteen years as an English teacher. She is said to be working on a novel focusing on Clytemnestra and Electra.

Rebecca

A Pleasant Surprise
I was very hesitant to read this book. Greek mythology is not really my cup of tea. I certainly am glad that I did. The story of Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, king of Crete after the slaying of the Minotaur, her brother is a fascinating one. She finds herself on Naxos, the home of Dionysus, abandoned by Theseus after helping him to kill the Minotaur. Dionysus waltzes into her life as only the god of wine can, they marry, have many little boys and life is good. Or is it? There are so many references to the gods of Olympus and their impetuous acts that I was continually looking up the stories and thoroughly enjoying them. But it grows increasingly clear that, though goddesses are revered, feared and powerful, mortal women are oppressed, repressed and often the victims of a god’s anger though the crime may be perpetrated by a mortal man. It’s a fun read and highly recommended

Roberta R. (West Bloomfield, MI)

A Page Turner
Ariadne is a wonderful retelling of this Greek Myth. It was certainly a page turner for a first novel by Jennifer Saint. I am looking forward to her second novel which I understand will revolve around Clytemnestra and her daughter, Electra.
It was a delight to read Ariadne and to be reacquainted with Greek Mythology in a very fun way. Great interaction between the gods, goddesses, demigods and mortals. The book has everything, lies, deceits, love, passion action and hate. Ariadne would be a good book for a book club discussion.

Jennifer H. (Los Angeles, CA)

An amazing feminist epic
I was blown away by Ariadne. It presents itself so familiarly at first with all the traditional Greek myths and epic tropes. It then quickly subverts these old traditions shine a bright light of condemnation on toxic masculinity and the misogyny that runs through all these accepted classical narratives. Saint develops extremely complex characters and interactions, and explores a range of different feminine traits and personalities through the two sisters. The novel manages to be both empowering and sadly resigned. I loved it and strongly recommend this book!

Alyson R. (Spokane, WA)

Multi-layered novel that speaks to the timeless experiences of girls, women, and mothers
I really enjoyed Ariadne and the author's character development. I also appreciated how she used Ariadne as a vehicle to understand the experience of girls, women, and mothers, whether mythical or human. Growing up reading Greek myths, I didn't "see" the peripheralization of females in myths or the patriarchal structure of society for humans and gods alike. From reading Ariadne as well as Circe, my adult mind is "see"ing what I didn't when I was younger. Ariadne covers the gambit in terms of the challenges, interests, and desires of women, given societal restrictions in ancient Greece, and the flightiness as well as vengeance of the gods. I feel like Jennifer Saint acknowledges the place of women in Ancient Greek society (and perhaps a reflection into today) as objects used, disposable, like Medusa. Women and their bodies (or parts) are paraded for male heroes to show their pride, strength, and glory. Women are conquered. Women have very little rights. Women are meant to serve in domestic roles keeping house and bearing/raising children. But even then, there's an ever-present threat from men or gods, of domestic violence and even infanticide. Saint goes a step further, she speaks to the experience of postpartum depression, something that women feel the need to hide or be ashamed of, in ancient Greece or today. And yet, Saint also speaks to the agency women find in their daily lives - that they aren't hollow vessels to be used, but full of strength, desire, intelligence, and action. For me, a standout display of this agency (and protest) was when Ariadne decided to use the loom to weave a pattern of her choosing, rather than a wedding scene dedicated to Hera. I would definitely recommend Ariadne to other readers.

...19 more reader reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

More Information

Due to a lifelong fascination with Ancient Greek mythology, Jennifer Saint read Classical Studies at King's College, London. She spent the next thirteen years as an English teacher, sharing a love of literature and creative writing with her students. Ariadne is her first novel, and she is working on another retelling of an ancient myth for her second, revolving around Clytemnestra and her daughter Electra.

More Author Information

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more historical fiction...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free

Discover books that
entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Windhall
    Windhall
    by Ava Barry
    Ava Barry's debut mystery novel Windhall is centered around the salacious murder of a starlet named ...
  • Book Jacket: Libertie
    Libertie
    by Kaitlyn Greenidge
    Kaitlyn Greenidge burst onto the literary scene in 2016 with her award-winning novel, We Love You, ...
  • Book Jacket
    Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982
    by Cho Nam-joo, Jamie Chang
    'Kim Jiyoung is thirty-three years old, thirty-four Korean age. She got married three years ago and ...
  • Book Jacket
    A Good Neighborhood
    by Therese Anne Fowler
    After fictionalized biographies of Zelda Fitzgerald (Z, 2013) and Alva Vanderbilt (A Well-Behaved ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Widow Queen
    by Elzbieta Cherezinska

    The epic story of an 11th century Polish queen whose life and name were all but forgotten until now.

    Reader Reviews
  • Book Jacket

    Of Women and Salt
    by Gabriela Garcia

    A kaleidoscopic portrait of generations of women from a 19th-century Cuban cigar factory to the present day.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Mountains Sing
by Nguyen Phan Que Mai
Winner of the 2020 BookBrowse Debut Novel Award: A multi-generational tale set in Viet Nam.
Win This Book!
Win The Beauty of Your Face

A New York Times Notable Book of 2020

"Stunning.… A timely family saga with faith and forgiveness at its core."
Marie Claire

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

It's N S O M N

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.