Clytemnestra: Book summary and reviews of Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati


A Novel

by Costanza Casati

Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati X
Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati
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Book Summary

Madeline Miller's Circe meets Cersei Lannister in a stunning debut following Clytemnestra, the most notorious heroine of the ancient world and the events that forged her into the legendary queen.

As for queens, they are either hated or forgotten. She already knows which option suits her best...

You were born to a king, but you marry a tyrant. You stand by helplessly as he sacrifices your child to placate the gods. You watch him wage war on a foreign shore, and you comfort yourself with violent thoughts of your own. Because this was not the first offence against you. This was not the life you ever deserved. And this will not be your undoing. Slowly, you plot.

But when your husband returns in triumph, you become a woman with a choice.

Acceptance or vengeance, infamy follows both. So, you bide your time and force the gods' hands in the game of retribution. For you understood something long ago that the others never did.

If power isn't given to you, you have to take it for yourself.

A blazing novel set in the world of Ancient Greece for fans of Jennifer Saint and Natalie Haynes, this is a thrilling tale of power and prophecies, of hatred, love, and of an unforgettable Queen who fiercely dealt out death to those who wronged her.

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Media Reviews

"Powerful and sympathetic, Clytemnestra shines a light on Helen of Troy's overshadowed sister. Crafted with page-turning suspense, Casati spins a mesmerizing story of an ambitious warrior queen who must use all her skill to protect herself and those she loves from men who view women not as equals, but as pawns to be sacrificed upon the altars of lust, greed, and fame. An ancient and intriguing tale made fresh for today's 21st century battles." ― Liz Michalski, author of Darling Girl

"Crackles with vivid fury, passion and strength. A powerful, thought-provoking portrayal of a fascinating and complicated woman framed in beautiful prose. I loved it." ― Jennifer Saint, bestselling author of Ariadne and Elektra

"Clytemnestra redefines the retelling genre with a heroine who, instead of enduring suffering, avenges it. Complex characters, stylish writing and a glimpse into the heart of one of history's most reviled women – Casati's Clytemnestra is a self-determined warrior queen" ― Annie Garthwaite, acclaimed author of Cecily

This information about Clytemnestra was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. 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 they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream 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

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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!

...12 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Costanza Casati Author Biography

Arianna Genghini

Costanza Casati was born in Texas in 1995, grew up in a village in Northern Italy and lived in the UK for five years. Before moving to London, she attended a classical Liceo in Italy, where she studied Ancient Greek, and Ancient Greek literature, for five years. Costanza is a graduate of the prestigious Warwick Writing MA programme where she earned a distinction, and currently works as a freelance journalist and screenwriter. Clytemnestra is her debut novel.

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