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Reviews of Elektra by Jennifer Saint

Elektra

A Novel

by Jennifer Saint

Elektra by Jennifer Saint X
Elektra by Jennifer Saint
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    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2022, 304 pages

    Paperback:
    May 2023, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Peggy Kurkowski
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About this Book

Book Summary

A spellbinding reimagining of the story of Elektra, one of Greek mythology's most infamous heroines, from Jennifer Saint, the author of the beloved international bestseller, Ariadne.

Three women, tangled in an ancient curse.

When Clytemnestra marries Agamemnon, she ignores the insidious whispers about his family line, the House of Atreus. But when, on the eve of the Trojan War, Agamemnon betrays Clytemnestra in the most unimaginable way, she must confront the curse that has long ravaged their family.

In Troy, Princess Cassandra has the gift of prophecy, but carries a curse of her own: no one will ever believe what she sees. When she is shown what will happen to her beloved city when Agamemnon and his army arrives, she is powerless to stop the tragedy from unfolding.

Elektra, Clytemnestra and Agamemnon's youngest daughter, wants only for her beloved father to return home from war. But can she escape her family's bloody history, or is her destiny bound by violence, too?

CHAPTER ONE
Clytemnestra

The House of Atreus carried a curse. A particularly gruesome one, even by the standards of divine torment. The history of the family was full of brutal murder, adultery, monstrous ambition, and rather more cannibalism than one would expect. Everyone knew of it, but when the Atreidae, Agamemnon and Menelaus, stood before me and my twin sister in Sparta a lifetime ago, well, the silly stories of infants cooked and served up to their parents seemed to shimmer and crumble like dust motes in sunlight.

The two brothers were full of vitality and vigor—not handsome, exactly, but compelling, nonetheless. Menelaus' beard glinted with a reddish tint, while Agamemnon's was dark, like the curls that clustered tightly around his head. Far more handsome suitors stood before my sister—indeed, the great hall in which they gathered seemed to swell and groan with the sheer volume of sculpted cheekbones and fine shoulders, jutting jawbones and flashing eyes. She had ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. In the novel's epigraph, taken from Sophocles' play, Elektra vows to seek revenge: "For if the hapless dead is to lie in dust and nothingness, while the slayers pay not with blood for blood, all regard for man, all fear of heaven, will vanish from the earth" (p. v). What do her words mean to you? What tone do they set for the story to come?
  2. The novel is alternately narrated by Elektra, Clytemnestra, and Cassandra. Did you have a favorite narrator? If so, why? Why do you think the author chose to include all three perspectives, especially since the title is Elektra?
  3. Once Helen leaves with Paris for Troy, Clytemnestra realizes she had misunderstood Helen's suitors: "I had believed they were there because they loved her, but I had ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

For the Greek myth and tragedy novice, the ancient stories often present a Gordian knot of deep backstory — who did what to whom and when — requiring skillful fingers to unravel the gnarled threads. Saint is a master at this. She explores the cosmic themes of betrayal and retribution from the female eye with musical prose that cuts with sharp emotional insights. Elektra is a near non-stop reading experience with expert pacing and riveting first-person narratives from the three protagonists...continued

Full Review (1002 words)

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(Reviewed by Peggy Kurkowski).

Media Reviews

Harper's Bazaar
A vivid reimagining of Greek mythology's most haunted lineage.

Washington Post
If you were ever confused after learning about these characters and their stories in school, you won't be once Elektra speeds up and dives into the action.

Booklist (starred review)
Electrifying…Difficult to put down. It's an emotion-laden story of revenge and rage driven by loss and fills a gap by giving Clytemnestra a voice. Both readers who know the Greek myths well and readers who only know glimmers of the story will enjoy this new, epic retelling, perfect for fans of Madeline Miller's Circe.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"[A] brilliant feminist revision of the Greek myth of the House of Atreus...Out of a canonical myth, Saint has built a commanding story of rebellious women.

Kirkus Reviews
Riveting…Together, these voices show how three very different women understand family, the costs of war, and how to exercise their power…Royals, revenge, curses, and prophecies done right.

Author Blurb Elodie Harper author of The Wolf Den
Elektra is sensational. Jennifer Saint has created a version of an ancient myth which is absolutely thrilling to read, and which gives so much depth and vitality to the characters. The book is profoundly moving, and full of beautiful touches which made the story feel fresh and immediate without losing any of the magic of the classical setting. I will be pressing this book on everyone I know.

Author Blurb Katherine J. Chen, author of Joan: A Novel of Joan of Arc
Jennifer Saint shows that whole millennia later, these stories have lost none of their power and resonance. In Elektra, the characters of myth take on an immediacy and intimacy that simply wouldn't be possible in the hands of a less assured and less masterful storyteller. Saint imparts both a voice and a humanity to women who have been consigned to narrow roles in the stories we think we know. Her approach is clear-eyed and unflinching, and the result is an enthralling and devastatingly moving work.

Reader Reviews

Afranio infante

Eu amo livro de romance
Há eu amei o romance (Hey, I loved the romance)

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Beyond the Book

The Electra Complex

Electra at the Tomb of Agamemnon, painting by Frederic LeightonWe have all heard of the Oedipus complex, right? Its origin is in Greek mythology, where Oedipus, King of Thebes, unknowingly kills his own father and marries his mother. Sigmund Freud introduced the concept of the complex, which posits that a young boy has a subconscious sexual desire toward his mother and anger or jealousy toward his father. Less well-known is the Electra complex, which is essentially the female version of the Oedipus complex, wherein a girl between the ages of three and six is subconsciously sexually attached to her father and increasingly hostile toward her mother. Often mistakenly attributed to Freud, it was his contemporary, Carl Jung, who devised the theory in 1913, drawing from his colleague's hypotheses on the ...

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Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Elektra, try these:

  • Clytemnestra jacket

    Clytemnestra

    by Costanza Casati

    Published 2024

    About this book

    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.

  • The Women of Troy jacket

    The Women of Troy

    by Pat Barker

    Published 2022

    About this book

    More by this author

    A daring and timely feminist retelling of The Illiad from the perspective of the women of Troy who endured it--an extraordinary follow up to The Silence of the Girls from the Booker Prize-winning author of The Regeneration Trilogy.

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