In this trilogy of love stories Greek myths expertly retold with a feminist slant McLaren (Waiting for Odysseus) brings to life three heroines, Atalanta, Andromeda and Psyche, and shows how each obtains a worthy mate. Romance links the stories, but it is not of the hearts-and-flowers variety. Themes regarding the repression of women and their secret yearnings for independence add an element of sharpness even as happy endings prevent these sagas from becoming unpleasantly bitter. In "Running from Love," for example, Atalanta's athletic skills and unorthodox views earn her a reputation as "a freak of nature." Caring more about self-preservation than others' opinions, she literally outruns her suitors to avoid the prison of marriage. Andromeda and Psyche are less rebellious. They reluctantly succumb to grim fates of loveless unions until supernatural forces unexpectedly intervene. McLaren endows her classical protagonists with new dimensions, making them vulnerable yet courageous, compassionate yet steel-willed. She artfully preserves the ambience of myth while offering an insightful glimpse of women struggling in a male-dominated world. A thoughtful afterword explores the status of upper-class women in real-life ancient Greece, identifies some of McLaren's sources and explains her variations on them. Ages 12-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
It's hard to find a Greek myth with a really happy ending, but McLaren has managed this feat in her stories of Atalanta, Andromeda and Psyche. Although her afterward adds details that take a little of the shine from the bliss, these retellings stand on their own for what the author is truly intending to do¾cast light on the status of Greek women in bygone eras. Atalanta's story is perhaps the most gratifying. Here is a gifted young woman athlete doomed to race her unwanted suitors to the death, until clever Milanion tricks from her Atalanta's final victory¾and her willing hand in marriage. For marriage is what these young women are raised for and what they must learn to accept in order to live within their world. McLaren recounts their plights with intelligence, grace and charm. 2002, Atheneum, $16.00. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr
Hot-pink cover, bas relief figures of a pair gazing lovingly at each other while holding a heart between them, love stories involving teenagers�what more could the teen romance fan want? Faced with life's challenges as they mature, three Grecian teenagers receive help with romance here from Aphrodite, goddess of love. Each girl tells her own story. Atalanta embraces her tomboy athleticism until her father forces her to run races against her potential suitors�if she wins, the suitors are put to death�before she realizes that she will never lose a race until she meets her true love. Andromeda is urged to sacrifice herself to a sea monster after her mother, Queen Cassiopea, boasts to the gods of her daughter's beauty. When Aphrodite sends Perseus to slay the sea monster and protect Andromeda, the girl recognizes that her savior is her genuine love. Psyche is blessed with a beauty that exceeds Aphrodite's, so the goddess sends her son, Eros, to make Psyche fall in love with an ugly suitor. Captivated by Psyche's beauty, however, Eros falls in love with her himself. Aphrodite challenges Psyche to complete four tasks before she allows the pair to come together and makes Psyche a goddess. This one-volume trilogy of retold myths is wonderful for teens who are interested in Greco-Roman myths, functioning also as a complementary text for the classroom. McLaren does a fantastic job illustrating how confusing romance and love can be for teens. The three mythological teens echo some teens typical today�the tomboy, the shy girl, and the beauty queen. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High,defined as grades 10 to 12). 2002, Atheneum/S & S,
Gr 8 Up-In a lively style, McLaren faithfully retells three myths from the viewpoint of each young heroine. Atalanta, the most unconventional of the three, is an Arcadian girl whose athletic prowess challenges prevailing norms of beauty, and who dreads the confinement and short leash of marriage. She tries to dissuade suitors from racing her to their deaths, but a Thracian challenger wins the contest and her heart after describing the relative freedom of northern women. Andromeda is a pawn in an unappealing diplomatic game when the oracles decree her wedding to a monster instead. Perseus, the hero of whom she has dreamed, rescues her just in time. These two young women are resentful but still largely accepting of the fates and are rescued by males. Psyche, though, makes her own mistakes and pays for them herself. Her tale is the briefest, but in many ways the richest: her husband (Eros) acknowledges that he, too, shares the blame for their problems. In each story, McLaren reveals the kernel of wisdom that continues to nourish readers. An afterword adds more narrative framing as well as information about marriage in ancient Greece. For classroom reading or as a substitute for popular romances, this collection entices readers with the fresh vision and original voice that distinguished McLaren's Inside the Walls of Troy (Atheneum, 1996).-Patricia Lothrop-Green, St. George's School, Newport, RI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
McLaren (Waiting for Odysseus, 2000, etc.) chooses Atalanta, Andromeda, and Psyche for her contemporary retellings of fates touched by Aphrodite's hand. Told in the first person, each offers the basic story, but from a woman's point of view. Atalanta loves to run, and hates the confines of women's usual lives in Arcadia. But she is horrified when she learns that the young men she bests in racing will be put to death. It is the prince Milanion from Thrace who tosses exquisite golden apples in her path as they run. She cannot resist their charms from Aphrodite, and he wins the race, and, happily, her hand. Andromeda is sacrificed to the sea monster for her mother's witless vanity, and rescued by the hero Perseus, whom she had seen in her dreams. And Psyche's happiness is poisoned by her sisters, who tempt her to betray her loving Eros's trust and seek to look at him in the light-she loses Eros then, but regains him and even gains his mother Aphrodite's grudging approval. The modern idiom sometimes jars, and sometimes is cliched, but the stories survive their transport to the language of Xena and Britney. An author's note details some of the changes made in the interests of both storytelling and romance. (Myth/folklore. 12+)