Ratty (blinger) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books 5 & 6 - 2014

Book 5: Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore by Bettany Hughes – 412 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
For 3,000 years, the woman known as Helen of Troy has been both the ideal symbol of beauty and a reminder of the terrible power beauty can wield. In her search for the identity behind this mythic figure, acclaimed historian Bettany Hughes uses Homers account of Helens life to frame her own investigation. Tracing the cultural impact that Helen has had on both the ancient world and Western civilization, Hughes explores Helens role and representations in literature and in art throughout the ages. This is a masterly work of historical inquiry about one of the worlds most famous women.

I can’t quite remember when I fell in love with the idea of Helen of Troy. I’ve loved the Tudors (Helen’s only historical (?) rival for my affections) since I was twelve years old, and distinctly remember what it was that made me fall in love with them (The Horrible Histories books – one about Henry VIII, who remains my favourite English monarch, despite his horribleness – sorry little Prince George!). But I can’t remember with Helen. I just know that I love her. Her story is truly crazy. The most beautiful woman in the world? The face that launched a thousand ships? A battle for ten years over who she should belong to? And in all of it, very little said about what Helen herself wanted. And then, out of all of this, the biggest mystery of all – did she even exist? Is she as much myth as her supposed father, Zeus? For centuries, historians and archeologists and random intrigued people have hunted for the remnants of the great city of Troy, for the battle fought there. I seek out books about Helen (and the Tudors) like normal people read murder mysteries or romance novels. Apparently I’m in the minority there, because I picked up this book on the cheap at a book shop some years ago, but put off reading it only because it is a big thick hard cover that’s a pain to carry around. But at last I’ve read it, and what a book! Rather than just dissecting the story itself, Hughes goes a step further and looks at the time frame in which the story is set, and then analyses the world at that time, to determine whether the story makes sense in context to the time period it relates to. She uses historical artifacts and evidence gained from archeological digs to support her claim that the Iliad is fairly historically accurate for the time period it’s set in. The natural progression of this is the notion that the story might actually be real. It’s a fascinating read. Perhaps the only thing I disagree with is Hughes comment in the Epilogue that she hopes that one day it will be proven that Helen did exist. As much as I would like it, I don’t think Helen ever existed, at least not in the context of the Iliad. Still, Hughes is far more educated on the topic than I, so perhaps her wish has some merit. Either way, it’s an interesting read for anyone who loves Helen as much as me.

5 / 50 books. 10% done!

1971 / 15000 pages. 13% done!

Book 6: The Day Her Heart Stood Still by Susan Grant – 205 pages

Description from Goodreads:
Astronaut Andie Del Sarto has everything a woman could want...except someone to share it all with her. Logical and driven, and determined to be the polar opposite of her exasperating UFO museum-owning mother, Andie makes sure no one is listening when she makes a wish on a falling star, confessing her secret longing to fall in love. Except that shooting star isn't a meteorite at all; it's a spaceship carrying an alien hunk of a galactic explorer named Zefer —and she's just brought him down to Earth!

This is a short story available only in ebook form by my favourite author ever, Susan Grant. It’s a science fiction/romance (Grant’s main genre; my favourite genre!) about an astronaut who gets pulled into a hilarious plot with her UFO obsessed mother to hide a real life alien who just happens to crash to Earth around the same time that Andie, the astronaut, makes a wish for some love in her life. Of course, there is instant chemistry between Andie and the alien, Zefer, and Andie must battle her own head for what to do – risk her career and an upcoming trip to Mars, or take up with sexy Zefer. It’s clichéd and fairly predictable (actually, I can’t even say that one, the ending is quite clever really!) but its lots of fun, and I find this type of romance stories so much more enjoyable than a Mills and Boons ‘Girl-falls-in-love-with-Italian/Greek/Spanish/French-billionaire’. A quick, fun little read!

6 / 50 books. 12% done!

2176 / 15000 pages. 15% done!

Currently reading:
-        The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory – 437 pages
-        A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Fifth: The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket – 221 pages
-        The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – 509 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages
Tags: academic, history, myth and legend, romance, sci-fi

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