Thursday, October 10, 2013

ARC Review: Beauty's Daughter by Carolyn Meyer

Beauty's Daughter: The Story of Hermione and Helen of Troy
Author: Carolyn Meyer
Publication: HMH Books for Young Readers (October 8, 2013)

Description: What is it like to be the daughter of the most beautiful woman in the world?

Hermione knows . . . her mother is Helen of Troy, the famed beauty of Greek myth. Helen is not only beautiful but also impulsive, and when she falls in love with charming Prince Paris, she runs off with him to Troy, abandoning her distraught daughter. Determined to reclaim their enchanting queen, the Greek army sails for Troy. Hermione stows away in one of the thousand ships in the fleet and witnesses the start of the legendary Trojan War. 

In the rough Greek encampment outside the walls of Troy, Hermione’s life is far from that of a pampered princess. Meanwhile, her mother basks in luxury in the royal palace inside the city. Hermione desperately wishes for the gods and goddesses to intervene and end the brutal war—and to bring her love. Will she end up with the handsome archer Orestes, or the formidable Pyrrhus, leader of a tribe of fierce warriors? And will she ever forgive her mother for bringing such chaos to her life and the lives of so many others?

My Thoughts: Here is the story of the Trojan War as told by the not-beautiful daughter of the famed Helen of Troy. Hermione knows that she isn't as beautiful as her mother but she is smart and observant. Like everyone else, she simply accepts the things that Helen does and her self-centered view of life. At least she does until Helen elopes with Paris and takes Hermione's father's treasury with them.

Menelaus, Helen's husband and king of Sparta, is determined to get Helen back. He calls on all of her former suitors, who had vowed to attack anyone who took Helen from him, to gather and fight Troy. A massive army is formed including Agamemnon, who is the brother of Menelaus and King of Mycenae. Menelaus wants to leave Hermione with Agamemnon's wife Clytemnestra but she runs away to join the army heading for Troy. She manages to find a place to hide on a ship of concubines where she is protected by the woman who watches over them.

In Hermione's world the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology take an active role. Some are on Troy's side and some are on Sparta's. Some change sides on a whim. The oracles have said that the war will last ten years before Troy is defeated. That gives Hermione to grow from age 11 to 21 and to fall in love with her cousin Orestes. But Menelaus and Helen decide to marry Hermione off to Pyrrhus who is the son of Achilles. Pyrrhus is a cruel husband. 

When Hermione hears that Orestes has fallen into trouble for killing his mother and her lover, she is determined to leave her husband, consult the oracles at Delphi, and find and save Orestes. 

This story was an entertaining love story. As Meyer says, "Girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl and boy find happiness at last." And this romance is played out in a setting filled with many characters from myths and legend. Readers who know the myths will love this retelling; readers who don't will be curious to read the myths too.

Favorite Quote:
I gathered my courage and asked, "In the times you were with her, did my mother ever speak of me? Did she ever mention that she had a daughter?"

Hippodameia hesitated and dropped her spindle. "Oh, yes!" she assured me as she pretended to search for it. "She spoke often of you. It was 'My Hermione said this' and 'My Hermione did that.' You were always on her mind."

But that hesitation before she answered told me all that I needed to know.
I got this ARC at ALA. You can buy your copy here.

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