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New Mythologies: Celebrating 2018's Revisited Classics

Posted on 5th December 2018 by Martha Greengrass

Amongst the highlights of 2018's publishing has been a windfall of novels crafting new fiction from the threads of traditional stories, ancient mythology and fairy tale. From Madeleine Miller's glowing, feminist tale of the fabled witch Circe and Pat Barker's vivid retelling of The Iliad in The Silence of the Girls, to Sarah Perry's Gothic triumph, Melmoth, we pick our choice of the year's finest retellings.  

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From the imaginative power that summoned the global bestseller The Song of Achilles, Orange Prize-winning author Madeline Miller returns with an electrifying take on Greek Myth’s most misunderstood deity: the proud and vengeful Circe.
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Pat Barker brings her profound, Booker Prize-winning ability to regard the hidden story of history’s greatest conflict: the Trojan War. Briseis – sometime queen, now slave in a shattered empire – sets on finding freedom and rediscovering her own remarkable story.

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After the success of her tour-de-force novel, The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry returns with Melmoth, a profound, ambitiously realised novel which asks fundamental questions about guilt, forgiveness and moral reckoning and how we come to terms with our actions in a conflicted world.

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No one loves and quarrels, desires and deceives as boldly and brilliantly as Greek gods and goddesses. They are like us, only more so - their actions and adventures scrawled across the heavens above, from the birth of the universe to the creation of humankind. Stephen Fry - who fell in love with these stories as a child - retells these myths for our tragic, comic, fateful age.
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Few mere mortals have ever embarked on such bold and heart-stirring adventures, overcome myriad monstrous perils, or outwitted scheming vengeful gods, quite as stylishly and triumphantly as Greek heroes. Heroes is the story of what we mortals are truly capable of - at our worst and our very best.
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A former Women’s Prize for Fiction winner, Shamsie’s haunting reworking of Sophocles’ Antigone is a commanding novel of passionate love, fanatical loyalty and conflicted identity. Interweaving public affairs with those of the heart, Home Fire is a devastating critique of family and identity, and how the two often inform each other in dark and unknowable ways.
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Having fled Rome and a stultifying marriage, Isabel Osmond is in London, brooding on the recent disclosure of her husband's shocking, years-long betrayal of her. What should she do now, and which way should she turn, in the emotional labyrinth where she has been trapped for so long? John Banville's Mrs Osmond is a masterly novel of betrayal, corruption and moral ambiguity.
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Taking inspiration from the Greek myths, House of Names weaves the stories that make up one family’s downfall; from the brutal sacrifice of Iphegenia and the barbarous betrayal of Clytemnestra to Electra’s bloody revenge. House of Names is a story of intense longing and shocking betrayal. It is a work of great beauty, and daring, from one of our finest living writers.
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Inspired by Eastern European fairy tale, Naomi Novik weaves a rich tapestry that questions the nature of real magic and revels in the power of storytelling to change the world. A bold, breathtakingly new re-telling of the Rumpelstiltskin tale, Spinning Silver weaves a golden story of oppression, prejudice, dark magic and three women finding their own power in a world in which they are not free.

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In this ferociously captivating story of familial agony, misplaced trust and retracted love, the author of the Patrick Melrose novels re-stages the Shakespearean tragedy of King Lear and his three daughters in the world of retiring media mogul Henry Dunbar.
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Words are important to Gretel, always have been. She hasn't seen her mother since the age of sixteen, though and those memories have faded. and the creature in the water - a canal thief? - swimming upstream, getting ever closer. As daring as it is moving, Everything Under is a story of family and identity, of fate, language, love and belonging that leaves you unsettled and unstrung.

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