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review 2020-06-29 07:57
The Furies by Natalie Haynes
The Furies: A Novel - Natalie Haynes

TITLE:  The Furies


AUTHOR:  Natalie Haynes



"When you open up, who will you let in?

When Alex Morris loses her fiancé in dreadful circumstances, she moves from London to Edinburgh to make a break with the past. Alex takes a job at a Pupil Referral Unit, which accepts the students excluded from other schools in the city. These are troubled, difficult kids and Alex is terrified of what she's taken on.

There is one class - a group of five teenagers - who intimidate Alex and every other teacher on The Unit. But with the help of the Greek tragedies she teaches, Alex gradually develops a rapport with them. Finding them enthralled by tales of cruel fate and bloody revenge, she even begins to worry that they are taking her lessons to heart, and that a whole new tragedy is being performed, right in front of her...




I liked the writing style and the idea was interesting, but at the same time not particularly original.  Some of the character's actions/reactions didn't seem quite plausible.  This would probably make a decent movie.

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review 2020-06-12 06:50
The Great Escape by Natalie Haynes
The Great Escape - Natalie Haynes

TITLE:  The Great Escape


AUTHOR:  Natalie Haynes



"It's the summer holidays and Millie's bored stiff. Every week, she has to clean windows with her dad at a nearby laboratory. But she's sure something weird is going on inside. Then, one day, a cat comes hurtling through the lobby towards her and asks her for help."




Enjoyable and entertaining.  Light and fluffy.  Kids and cat to the rescue!

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review 2020-04-06 22:23
A Thousand Ships
A Thousand Ships - Natalie Haynes



Sing, Muse, he said, and I have sung.

I have sung of armies and I have sung of men.

I have sung of gods and monsters, I have sung of stories and lies.

I have sung of death and of life, of joy and of pain.

I have sung of life after death.

And I have sung of the women, the women in the shadows.

I have sung of the forgotten, the ignored, the untold.

I have picked up the old stories and I have shaken them until the hidden women appear in plain sight.

I have celebrated them in song because they have waited long enough.

Just as I promised him: this was never the story of one woman, or two. It was the story of all of them. A war does not ignore half the people whose lives it touches. So why do we? They have waited to have their story told, and I will make them wait no longer. If the poet refuses the song I have offered him, I will take it away and leave him silent. He has sung before: he may not want it and does not need it. But the story will be told. Their story will be told, no matter how long it takes. I am ageless, undying: time does not matter to me.

All that matters is the telling.

Sing, Muse, he said.

Well, do you hear me?

I have sung.

Well, this was utterly fantastic.

Stomach-turning, bloody, violent, cruel, disgusting, and utterly fantastic.


Yes, this is a retelling of the story of the fall of Troy, but it is also a lot more. A Thousand Ships does not focus on the siege and the battles and the heroes. The story and what happens after the fall of Troy is told through the points of view of the women of Troy, who lost all, the mothers of the "heroes", the wives, the daughters. 

Some deeds cast long shadows, and here we have shadows dancing like the Furies, engulfed in black flames, destroying everything in their quest for vengeance.  


Oh, and there are bickering gods and goddesses, too, just for some light relief.


What I would be interested to know is how this all works for readers who are not familiar with the underlying stories. I mean I found it gripping, and I know the characters. I would love to know what others make of this book. 


Also, this is my second book by Haynes. I picked up her The Amber Fury a few months ago on a whim, and acquired her other books after reading it because I was stunned. I am now a confirmed fan of the author.

She can write, absolutely, but I am also impressed by her attention to detail, research efforts, and general handling of the source material.


There is an enlightening Afterword to this book that is as relevant and worth reading as the stories told in A Thousand Ships themselves.

"I hope that at the end of this book, my attempt to write an epic, readers might feel that heroism is something that can reside in all of us, particularly if circumstances push it to the fore. It doesn’t belong to men, any more than the tragic consequences of war belong to women. Survivors, victims, perpetrators: these roles are not always separate. People can be wounded and wounding at the same time, or at different times in the same life."


Previous Reading Updates:

Reading progress update: I've read 90%.

Reading progress update: I've read 66%.

Reading progress update: I've read 47%.

Reading progress update: I've read 33%.

Reading progress update: I've read 32%.

Next in the Ides of March ... and all of April Project

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text 2020-04-06 21:43
Reading progress update: I've read 90%.
A Thousand Ships - Natalie Haynes

Up on the palace roof, the Furies ceased their dance. They looked at one another, nodding excitedly. Their work was done; their will had been carried out at last. It was the longest they had ever waited anywhere, dancing through the halls and across the warm stone floors, warming their bare feet and their cool snakes as they went. But after a year or two they had grown bored. They had clambered onto the roof to try and spot the guilty man returning, so they could scream into his ears as he woke or tried to sleep, and drive him from his senses. They had waited and waited and waited for his return. They did not speak of all the other guilty men who had gone unpunished in the years that they had spent on the roof of the palace of Mycenae. The Furies would catch up with them soon enough. In this moment, they felt nothing but exuberance at the final settling of matters here.

And yet – one of them turned her head, as if she had just caught the edge of a sound but wasn’t quite sure. The snakes paused their writhing and the flames shrank away. A second sound, and then a third. The Furies said nothing, but they began to climb down from the roof, all vipers and fire and elbows and knees.

Damn. This is gut-wrenching, but it is also really thrilling even tho I know how the main stories will end. 

I had not planned on finishing this book tonight, but there is no chance I will set this down now.


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text 2020-04-06 19:54
Reading progress update: I've read 66%.
A Thousand Ships - Natalie Haynes


Cassandra took in jagged breaths, desperate to remain calm. She closed her eyes and then opened them again in the present, to see her mother, her sister, her sister-in-law, all sitting beside her on the rocks, just as they had been before she followed her mother to Thrace. But then the scene began to play out from the beginning once more. It was no less horrifying to see it again. More so, in fact, now she had seen so much of what was to come. But still, one detail was missing, right at the beginning when Hecabe first stepped onto Odysseus’ ship. She, Cassandra, was standing there on the sands of Troy, watching her mother leave. She could sense that Andromache had already gone. She could see other women – cousins and neighbours – heading off with different warriors to disparate kingdoms. She had accounted for all of them. All except one. Where was Polyxena? The answer came to her in a rush. And this time she could do nothing to prevent the sickness overwhelming her.

I mentioned before that this is in parts difficult to read. It's is no surprise that there is a lot of violence and bloodshed in this book, which are not something I read willingly. However, the story is told so well. I feel for Cassandra, she's guiding us through parts of the story, while we know that she's showing us what is to come, it increases the tragedy of the story and the characters when we see the other characters ignore Cassandra's warnings. 


I've always liked Cassandra in the myths/legends, and it is really good to see Haynes giving her such a meaningful part in this book. 

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