10 Feminist Retellings Of Greek Myths To Read If You Loved 'Circe' By Madeline Miller
Ever since I saw Disney's Hercules at the young and impressionable age of seven, I have been obsessed with Greek mythology, both the original stories and the many book, movie, and television adaptations. That's just one of the reasons why 2018 has been such an excellent reading year, because of novels like Madeline Miller's Circe and Pat Barker's The Silence of the Girls that took the classic tales and turned them into something new. If you just can't get enough of feminist Greek myth retellings like these, don't worry, there are plenty more novels out there that fit the bill.
Growing up, one of my favorite books to read before bed was Edith Hamilton's Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes. Night after night, I poured over the tales of the Titans, the love story of Orpheus and Eurydice, the adventures of heroes like Hercules and Perseus. After reading and rereading the original myths, I gravitated towards retellings, and do you know what I found out? There are so many exciting new ways to tell the same old story, especially if you tell it using the voice of a woman who hasn't yet been heard.
From female-driven narratives about the Trojan War to women-focused adaptations of Jason and the Argonauts, here are 11 feminist Greek myth retellings. If you liked Circe, you will love these.
'Girl Meets Boy' by Ali Smith
This retelling of Iphis and Ianthe focuses on two sisters, Anthea and Imogen, who couldn't be any different from one another — save for the fact that work at the same bottled-water company, Pure. Things get complicated when Anthea falls for Iphisol, an "interventionist protest artist" whose work is the bane of Pure's existence. A sharp and funny story about love, transformation, and sisterhood, Girl Meets Boy is a must-read for Greek myth fans.
'The Memoirs of Helen of Troy' by Amanda Elyot
In most of the traditional myths, Helen of Troy, the woman whose face "launched a thousand ships," is seen but not heard. Amanda Elyot finally gives her a voice in The Memoirs of Helen of Troy, a fascinating novel about love, passion, sacrifice, and revenge that explores, from the woman's perspective, the series of events that lead to one of the most famous conflicts in Ancient Greece.
'Lavinia' by Ursula K. Le Guin
In the original version of Virgil'sThe Aeneid, Lavinia never speaks, not when the poem's hero fights to claim her hand, and not after when her fate is decided by everyone but her. But in Ursula K. Le Guin's novel about the titular princess, Lavinia is given a voice and a gripping story fans of Greek myths (and the epic poems they inspire) will love.
'Galatea' by Madeline Miller
Since you've already read Circe and The Song of Achilles, it's time you turn to Madeline Miller's other Greek retelling, Galatea. A feminist retelling of the Pygmalion myth from the perspective of the statue who, after given the gift of life is forced to live one she didn't choose, this captivating short story will completely change how you see the original myth.
'xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths' edited by Kate Bernheimer
If you like the sounds of Galatea, then you will love xo Orpheus, a collection of 50 myths retold, retooled, and rewritten by authors like Elizabeth McCracken, Aimee Bender, Emma Straub, and more. Including adaptations of everything from Icarus to the Trojan War, this is a must-have collection for true mythology fans.
'For the Winner: A Novel of Jason and the Argonauts' by Emily Hauser
In the same tradition of her previous Greek myth retellings, Emily Hauser's For the Winner takes a classic tale — in this case, Jason and the Argonauts — and reimagines it through the experiences of a woman. In this novel, that woman is Atalanta, a princess who disguises herself as a male soldier so she can join the search for the legendary Golden Fleece. But when her true identity is discovered, Atalanta is abandoned in the mythical land of Colchis, where she has a remarkable adventure all her own.
'Home Fire' by Kamila Shamsie
The winner of the 2018 Women's Prize for Fiction, Home Fire is a retelling of Antigone that centers around an immigrant family and the man who comes into their lives and changes it forever. A emotionally riveting and beautifully written novel about love, family, power, and politics, this modern Greek tragedy will stay with you long after you've read the last page.
'Love in the Time of Global Warming' by Franesca Lia Block
In her reimagining of the Odyssey, Weetzie Bat author Francesca Block offers readers a apocalyptic survival story about 17-year-old Pen and her search for her family across a nearly-destroyed Los Angeles. A gripping and wholly imaginative adaptation, Love in the Time of Global Warming is a truly unique retelling.
'The Children of Jocasta' by Natalie Haynes (Nov. 13)
Based on two of Classic Greece's most famous tragedies, Oedipus Tyrannus and Antigone, Natalie Haynes's latest retelling takes readers to Ancient Thebes, a city devastated from a recent attack of the plague. It's there two women ― Jocasta and Ismene ― struggle to survive in a world determined to break them down.
'The Cold Is in Her Bones' by Peternelle van Arsdale (Jan. 22)
In this forthcoming YA novel, the myth of Medusa is blended with the classic story of The Crucible to create a fierce and feminist retelling unlike any you've read before. A powerful story about pain, love, and belonging, The Cold Is in Her Bones should be on every myth-lovers TBR list.