Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Beautiful One

Genre: Historical Fiction, YA Fiction
Release Date: 8 September 2017
Publisher: S Books

Even as a small child, Helen, princess of Sparta, knows that there is something special about her; men come from far away just to catch a glimpse of her beauty. Also there are those rumours that her real father was someone more important than King Tyndareus of Sparta. But her beauty is to cause problems; her sister Clytemnestra is jealous of the attention she gets, and even her magical brothers, Castor and Polydeuces, can’t protect her from the predations of a brute like Theseus of Athens. Still, as she grows up, and knows she’ll have to find a husband, she thinks a good deal about love, and what it might mean to her.

And that was when the terrible thing happened. There was no swan’s feather on my pillow that morning, but I woke up with a strange sensation that something soft was brushing my cheek. When I sat up and looked around, of course, there was no one there. Phyllis and my sister were still asleep. But I couldn’t help feeling anxious all day, though there seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary. If Castor had been there, I’d have confided in him, and he might even have been able to save me from what came later.
Anyone who is familiar with mythology has heard of the unmatched beauty of Helen of Troy.
This tale begins long before those stories, when Princess Helen of Sparta was just the youngest child of a king and queen. We learn about her family and their relationships with each other. 
Young Helen is still learning about life, having no idea of what happens between men and women. She understands that people treat her differently and wants her sister to like her. Helen is an intelligent yet innocent child, protected from the courser aspects of life. She begins to understand that women need to be willing to settle and sacrifice for the betterment of family and community. 
Before the time arrives for Helen to be concerned with making a choice, all is disrupted when she is abducted. Resigned to her changed life, Helen continues to mature. 
Told in a pleasant voice, we feel empathy both for Helen and for the man eventually chosen for her. I even felt sympathy for her older sister. At times tense and disconcerting, I was drawn into the early days of Spartan life and the delicate balance during the time between childhood and young womanhood.

Frances Thomas was born in Wales during the war, though she has lived most of her life in London. However, some years ago, she and her historian husband retired to a beautiful part of mid-Wales. She’s written many books for children and adults, her most recent being a trilogy about the girls of the Trojan War.
For many years Frances also used to teach dyslexic children. She enjoys reading, sketching, cooking, and looking out of the window at the changing colours of the countryside. She has two grown up daughters, and two grandchildren.
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