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Demeter and Persephone: Background information when reading Fruit of the Dead

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Fruit of the Dead

A Novel

by Rachel Lyon

Fruit of the Dead by Rachel Lyon X
Fruit of the Dead by Rachel Lyon
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  • Published:
    Mar 2024, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
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About this Book

Demeter and Persephone

This article relates to Fruit of the Dead

White sculpture depicting Persephone grappling with HadesRachel Lyon's novel Fruit of the Dead is based on the story of Demeter and Persephone from Greek mythology. In the original story, Demeter, goddess of the harvest, is devastated when her daughter Persephone is kidnapped by Hades, god of the underworld, who intends to make her his wife. Demeter's grief is so great that it affects the growth of crops and plants in nature. She appeals to the god Zeus, who asks Hades to let Persephone go. Hades agrees to this on the condition that Persephone hasn't eaten any of the food he has given her, but Persephone has (wouldn't you know it) eaten seeds from a pomegranate. As a compromise, Zeus and Hades decide that she will stay in the underworld for one-third of the year, and that she can return to Earth for the remaining two-thirds. And so for the part of the year Persephone is gone, Demeter's sadness at her daughter's absence causes plants and crops to stop growing, while during the rest of the year, they flourish.

The story is told in a 495-...

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