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Stealing Athena

by Karen Essex

Stealing Athena
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2008
    464 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Linda (06/11/08)

Bogged Down in Details
I am a huge fan of historical fiction, so I was really looking forward to this book. Unfortunately I struggled with this book for over a month. Some of the passages were so detailed I lost interest in the point of the chapter. I found the story of Mary and Robert Elgin more engrossing than the Aspasia/Perikles story set in Ancient Greece, but in general didn't care very much for most of the characters in the two stories, they just didn't 'feel' like flesh and blood people to me. I usually enjoy reading books that have stories set in two different eras, but the back and forth in this book was often jarring. Although I wouldn't consider this a bad book, I was disappointed in it.
Linda (06/10/08)

All of the Marbles
I enjoyed reading about two strong women, whose connection to the Elgin marbles and their accomplishments, were somehow lost in the maze of history. The book gives us a better understanding of the role played by Britain in saving the marbles but I still believe they belong in Greece. This is a wonderful book for any literary book club and for anyone who has a love of history. Personally, I would like to view the Marbles once more with this book as a background.
Valerie (06/07/08)

Great
For me, Stealing Athena's strongest point is the excellent female characters. These two women are strong, independent, intelligent, and struggling with the restraints placed on them by male dominated societies. On a broader scale, this is excellent historical fiction, done in an unusual, to me at least, manner. There are two story lines, with two female protagonists, joined by the Greek art and history, but separated by centuries. It's interesting how so little changed in female freedom/repression during the many centuries these two story lines represent.
Sharon (06/05/08)

History Book with Dialogue
This is a novel about the removal of classic sculpture and art from the Greek Parthenon in the early nineteenth century. Lord and Lady Elgin, while serving as ambassadors to the Ottoman Empire, excavated and removed dozens of pieces and shipped them to England to save them from further deterioration and ruin. They are still displayed in British museums and are known as the Elgin Marbles.

Although the book is very informative, switching back and forth in time between the original building of the Parthenon and design of the sculptures to their later removal, it made for tedious reading. None of the characters are very likable. Information about the marbles found on the Internet was much more interesting and easier to read.
Jeanne (06/04/08)

Could have been better
The story is interesting especially as it pertains to the lack of legal rights for women throughout history and the issues of removing antiquities from a country for personal gain. The book moves slowly in the beginning and the pace doesn't really pick up until the halfway point. The narrative is choppy in places as it moves between the Athens of 450 BC and early 19th century Turkey, Greece and Europe and the writing seems careless. The character of Mary Elgin seems fairly well fleshed out but Aspasia doesn't quite ring true.
Liz (06/03/08)

Not very engaging
I did enjoy the historical fiction and the time period changes in this book, but it seemed to drag on and on. I liked the characters but found my thoughts wandering away from the story when I was reading.
Power Reviewer Joan Pascuzzo (06/02/08)

Stealing Athena
Every five years or so there is renewed interest in returning the Elgin Marbles to Greece. This book has two threads. It tells of Lord Elgin's obsession with procuring the Marbles for England, and simultaneously the building of the Parthenon in Ancient Greece.

I found the story interesting and informative. The reader gets a good idea of life in the Napoleonic era with the friction between England and France. It also gives a taste of every day life in Ancient Greece. Lord Elgin's wife, Mary, and Aspasia, Pericles's mistress, faced the same hurdles that women with no legal rights faced in the not too distant past. Historical Fiction fans will love this book.
Amy (05/31/08)

Great Look at Women's Lives
I thought this book was a fascinating look at the lives of two women and how their lives intersected. It took a little bit to get into the respective stories, but my lack of firsthand historical knowledge did not impede my enjoyment of the book. Recommended!
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