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Phaedra: A Novel (Paperback)
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Debut novelist Laura Shepperson offers a powerful feminist retelling of Phaedra and her unyielding quest for justice, perfect for fans of Madeline Miller and Natalie Haynes.
Phaedra has been cast to the side all her life: daughter of an adulteress, sister of a monster, and now unwilling bride to the much-older, power-hungry Theseus. Young, naïve, and idealistic, she has accepted her lot in life, resigned to existing under the sinister weight of Theseus’s control and the constant watchful eye of her handsome stepson Hippolytus.
When supposedly pious Hippolytus assaults her, Phaedra’s world is darkened in the face of untouchable, prideful power. In the face of injustice, Phaedra refuses to remain quiet any longer: such an awful truth demands to be brought to light. When Phaedra publicly accuses Hippolytus of rape, she sparks an overdue reckoning.
The men of Athens gather to determine the truth. Meanwhile, the women of the city, who have no vote, are gathering in the shadows. The women know truth is a slippery thing in the hands of men. There are two sides to every story, and theirs has gone unheard. Until now.
Timely, unflinching, and transportive, Laura Shepperson’s Phaedra carves open long-accepted wounds to give voice to one of the most maligned figures of mythology and offers a stunning story of how truth bends under the weight of patriarchy but can be broken open by the force of one woman’s bravery.
About the Author
Laura Shepperson has been fascinated by myths and myth retellings since studying Classical Studies at university, and her current novel updates the story of Phaedra, sister of the Minotaur. In 2017 she was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Prize for Fiction. Laura holds a Master of Studies in Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge. She is trying to learn Ancient Greek. Laura lives outside London with her husband and children.
Praise for Phaedra:
“[A] powerful and compulsively readable tale . . . [For] fans of Jennifer Saint's Ariadne and Madeline Miller's Circe.”
—Booklist, starred review
“Shepperson shines in her debut . . . This inspired feminist retelling will captivate readers.”
“A breath of fresh air from an ancient tale.”
“Fans of Madeline Miller, Jennifer Saint, and Natalie Haynes will enjoy this sweeping tale.”
—Library Journal, audiobook review
“Interesting interpretations of various myths . . . One for fans of Madeline Miller.”
—Historical Novel Society
“This historical work of exceptional fiction will have a special appeal to readers with an interest in Greek folklore, legends and myths . . . Entertaining, and thought-provoking.”
—Midwest Book Review
“Phaedra is a powerful reimagining of Greek tragedy, skillfully interweaving the voices of women to haunting effect, creating echoes that resonate in modern society. A deft and clever retelling full of intrigue, rage and pathos.”
—Jennifer Saint, Sunday Times bestselling author of Ariadne
“A feminist retelling that subverts the most enduring myth of them all—that women are to blame for the violence exacted upon them and are the cause of their own suffering. Laura Shepperson does not flinch in her reimagining of Phaedra's story. Wholly original, Phaedra eschews romance, and does not seek to mollify the male reader. Instead, the author holds steadfast in her unpicking of the age-old misogynistic narrative that women are weak, conniving and duplicitous. Chapter after chapter she posits: This is how it is, can you deny it? A welcome reimagining that left me all at once satisfied and furious.”
—Joanne Burn, author of The Hemlock Cure
“A timely and labyrinthian retelling of the trial of Phaedra: breaking down the old walls and illuminating the true monsters.”
—Cari Thomas, Sunday Times bestseller author of Threadneedle
“A compelling and skilfully woven story, Phaedra challenges the silencing of female voices with an urgent and furious reimagining of a number of unlikely Classical tales.”
—Rosie Andrews, Sunday Times author of The Leviathan
“An intelligent, highly crafted and necessary book”
—Claire North, author of Ithaca
“Thrilling, menacing, heartbreaking. An ancient story for modern times. So gripping the pages almost turn themselves”
—Emma Carroll, author of Letters From The Lighthouse
“Phaedra is beautifully told, and utterly gripping - a must for any fans of Greek myth retellings. I was immediately enthralled by the variety of voices and viewpoints telling the story, and each character was so well drawn and distinctive. The tension builds to an explosive, heart rending finale, and I couldn't put the book down. Shepperson draws from the original myths, and compellingly asks us to consider how our understanding is influenced by who is telling the story - and why.”
—Cailean Stead, author of Home
“A stunning debut . . . vibrant characters, dark twists, a shimmering brilliant read.”
—Carly Reagon, author of The Toll House
“Compelling and immersive storytelling. A sparkling debut”
—Julie Owen Moylan, author of That Green Eyed Girl