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Oh my god, this book is literally so boring I was waiting pretty much the entire book for things to get exciting, and they never did I thought that I would absolutely adore this book, simply because it has to do with Greek mythology, and I LOVE books written about Greek mythology However, my experience reading this book listening, rather, as I had the audiobook was like trudging through molasses the entire time I suppose there s not really a lot you can do with a pretty obscure character with not much written about her, to then write an entire book about her But, come on, did I really need to sit through 8 hours of absolute boredom In the classifications of the book, it says LGBT, and so, of course, I got ridiculously excited Books about Greek mythology that are also gay Sign me up And although I love Persephone with all my heart and soul, and quite enjoyed this characterization of her, the romance here with which made the book LGBT was, uhhh, really weird First of all, Alcestis spends basically her entire time in the underworld trying to find her dead sister who turns out to not even know her own name, much less remember that she has a sister And this whole time, Alcestis SUPPOSEDLY wants nothing to do with Persephone, yet she watches her and Hades have sex in their domain and then feels jealous over it And Persephone proceeds to just be really weird and tricky with her interest in Alcestis, even going so far as to have sex with her without her consent, even while she s repeatedly saying no and she s pinning her to the ground so she can t escape And then suddenly after that Alcestis is in pure and beautiful love with Persephone I m sorry, I know this takes place way back when rape was just like, normal and not as big of a deal, but this just did not sit well with me at all I couldn t quite get behind this romance because of this Oh look, yet another extremely unhealthy example of an LGBT relationship in fiction, because I guess that s all us queers are granted in terms of representation Super And then, of course, we have the storyline where her husband is secretly fucking Apollo I mean, wouldn t you But besides that, she s so sad that her husband won t look at her the same as he does this BRIGHT AND CHISELED AND EXTREMELY HANDSOME GOD, like she really expects to be comparable And I did not care in the slightest about these marital issues of hers And her husband literally got the help of a God just to be able to convince her father to marry her because he was so fixed on her being his bride, and then he hooks up with the God that helped him win her over instead and neglects the wife he so viciously fought for What is happening in Greece, y all The narrator of this audiobook, too, was really bland and dreary, but she had great expressions when reading the dialogue, but otherwise, this book was just not exciting The first while is just Alcestis growing up and being boring, boring, boring I m so glad that it s finally over. This book reminded me quite a bit of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni s The Palace Of Illusions and that s good, because that book is what all myth retellings have to live up to in my mind.Now, bear in mind that I m not familiar with the original myth of Alcestis.That being said, this book was gorgeous The writing might seem overwrought to some readers, but I found it lyrical, visceral, and intense Alcestis is very much a woman of her times and culture, not a feminist insert put there to challenge the world around her And yet, even as she is quiet and passive, she is an intensely feminist narrator She s a lot like Offred from The Handmaid s Tale, actually while neither really speaks up or does much to break their bonds, their plain description of their lives is in and of itself subversive Alcestis grows from sheltered girl to jaded wife, and the transition is elegant and a tiny bit chilling When she goes to the underworld in her husband s place, it is not an emotional impulsive choice but a calculated decision, just this side of cold It s almost suicide, actually.The days she spends in the underworld have a dreamlike air to them, and the emotions she has for Persephone are equally hazy and strange Persephone herself gave me the willies She was so very inhuman it was terrifying she was capricious, emotional, dishonest, and impulsive She was cruel, sometimes without meaning to, sometimes just acting as she had learned from the other gods I never doubted that she didn t play by mortal rules, and that was scary While she was the most present member of the pantheon, her stories and the stories of humans showed the other gods to be just as inhuman I ve read a lot of reviews complaining that new Greek mythology inspired novels whitewash the gods This one certainly doesn t.Reading Alcestis was an intense experience Beutner s writing and voice drew me in, and her story was deeply emotional and beautiful I loved, loved, loved that the conflict of Alcestis and Persephone s relationship was not that they were both women but that they were married women, and yet at the same time that Alcestis was aware of her husband s infidelity that through her very complacency, not through speaking out, she highlighted the cultural misogyny to which she was subjected.I received this book through the First Reads program and I m so very glad I did. This is definitely one of those books where I have to honestly tell my fellow reader Alcestis is a very subjective book, and I can equally see someone hating it as loving it.I wasn t too interested in it myself at first, and struggled my way through the tedium of early chapters, which, if anything, struck me as very Young Adult What I mean by that statement is that I ve read a lot of Greek myth novels in recent years which usually attempt to retell the tale from a young female character s perspective, eliminate the fantasy elements in favour of somethingplausibly historical, but which usually end up far too simplistic and fluffy, shying away from the full impact of the horrors these ancient myths could contain and reducing the complex humanity of the characters to teenage girls either stamping their foot at their arranged marriage decidedly anachronistically, for bronze age Greece or mooning over their suitors I felt like I d stepped into another of those novels, and my interest was waning.My first clue that this was something different was the fact that the gods make appearances So this wasn t another novel trying to do a historical retelling However the fantasy elements remained on the fringe until halfway in, when a certain event sets everything in motion Suddenly, it felt like I was transported into a completely different sort of story The writing becomes almost lyrical, the setting and characters alien and utterly mesmerising I was transfixed I think you could justifiably say that this book has a dark romance at its core, one that pulls on you just as much as it repels Again I warn my fellow readers that one s reaction to this really will vary I can clearly see, from some of the other reviewers, that some people were switched off completely by this I don t condone view spoiler Persephone s actions, hide spoiler From copy provided by the agent.For years I ve loved the historical novels of Mary Renault, and for almost as many years I ve longed for versions of them that centered on women The apparent effortlessness of the world building in Renault s rich recreations of Classical Greece is matched only by the elegance of her prose and the fascinating obliquity of her characterization she is one of English s great masters of textual negative space In her books, what isn t said or what s almost said is as significant as what is Her major flaw as a writer as great, unfortunately, as any of her virtues is her extraordinary misogyny Most of her early contemporary novels from the 1930s and 1940s are unsettling and subversive takes on the nurse romance the work is hard if sometimes worthwhile the hospitals are full of internal politicking and bullying, sexual and otherwise there is an uneasy struggle with sexuality and Platonism, in which erotic love appears as it would in the historical novels as a degradation from a purer and unconsummated affection Women are sometimes goddesses and sometimes monsters and occasionally helpmeets to male geniuses they can never hope to match male ambition or accomplishment Male and female homosexuality are both depicted sympathetically, but the relationships between men always trump the relationships between men and women, as the relationships between men and women always trump the relationships between women many critics have described The Friendly Young Ladies The Middle Mists as an account of a lesbian couple, a reading which unfortunately ignores that the majority of the book concerns the relationship between one of the women and her male mentor hero crush He is, of course, a better a writer than she could ever hope to be On the whole, I prefer the historicals, where women areor less invisible.So I can t be particularly objective about Katharine Beutner s first novel, Alcestis, in which the ideal wife of Greek myth, who loves her husband so much she agrees to take his die in his place, becomes the lover of Persephone for the three days she dwells as a shade in the Underworld It is so exactly what I have always wanted some book to be.In Beutner s retelling, Alcestis has been familiar with death since birth, and yet its sting never grows less her mother dies giving birth to her, her beloved elder sister dies in childhood, her stepmother risks death with every pregnancy, her brothers risk death with every journey Life is a series of losses, even if not fatal ones another sister is traded off in marriage, never to be seen again, a future Alcestis knows awaits her All that Alcestis can keep is her secrets, and even those are a kind of lack, a forced hiding from power I would marry, but I could never reveal to a man what was damp and hungry in me, not like these girls, these laughing children, destined to be shepherds wives or sailors mistresses, to die bearing or beaten or old I leaned against the wall and I felt the skin of my inner thighs brush, the dry slide of hot skin and tiny hairs p 37 Alcestis sees, sometimes, brief chances to escape the limitations or fulfill the losses of her life the love of her kind and handsome husband Admetus, the seduction by glorious Persephone, the chance to meet again with her sister Hippothoe in the lands of the dead But these all prove illusory, the gods selfish and violent beyond human understanding, and death a chasm that can t be crossed even by the dead The book is beautifully and thoroughly centered in women s experiences, with particular attention to the bonds between women between sisters, between daughters and mothers and stepdaughters and stepmothers, and between mortal women and immortal goddesses Both the rich and rivalrous bond between Alcestis and her sister Pisidice and the strong and sweet bond between Alcestis and her sister Hippothoe are echoed in various ways in Alcestis relationship with Persephone Alcestis can see her future in her stepmother s treatment, in her husband s fearful and enthralled love of the god Apollo She is most like and most unlike Persephone, who rules in Hell the way no human woman rules in Greece except, perhaps, in moments of desire or strength of will, and even those human women pay for in the end, when women s strength is taken as the weakness and shame of men.I ve focused on what Adrienne Rich would call the continuum of lesbian existence in the book cf Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence , but Alcestis also explores a gorgeous sexual fluidity Alcestis desire for Admetus is real, perhaps realer than any other connection they have with each other If it s not unaffected by their fears and their social roles, it is at least something like a feast of misrule, where they can reverse the usual rules if not escape them.If I have any complaint, it s that the overall tone of the book is so cool Alcestis is so predisposed to mourning that it sometimes feels like loss cannot actually touch her, as if all her emotions are separated from her by a layer of grey cotton or the knowledge of death But it s hard to call that a flaw when it may very well be deliberate this is a tale, after all, told from beyond the Styx. So the book follows this myth very closely I wasn t totally familiar with the original myth so I had to go and read about it The part that the author focuses on during the last part of the book is Alcestis time in the Underworld Now, I was wholly enjoying everything about the book while I was reading it, but when it got to those three days spent in the Underworld, I felt a slight disconnect But first.I really liked the fact that the gods were part of the mortal world, and that they weren t just some deities that people worshiped and you never got to see them as being living and breathing beings Here, the gods are real Alcestis grandfather is actually Poseidon and the god that Admetus loves so much That would be Apollo And who takes Alcestis down to the underworld That would be Hermes.The author did a wonderful job of describing the Underworld by having Alcestis explore it while trying to find her sister that she loved, and who had died years earlier.So what was my disconnect in the Underworld Mainly it was the relationship between Alcestis and Persephone I just didn t get it I didn t see it I couldn t fathom why Alcestis would fall in love with the Queen of the Underworld Was I missing something Cause I thought there was something missing there Persephone came off as very manipulating at times I could understand why she was very hesitant to tell Alcestis where her sister was since she knew that the sister would never recognize Alcestis, and it would be too painful for Alcestis to witness But that still didn t make me like her.And Hades I couldn t get him either It was like he was Persephone s lapdog or something And not the all powerful Lord of the Underworld I had imagined him to be.Despite this, if the author does write another book though, I think I will check it out anyway, especially if it deals with another little known myth. Perhaps I didn t read closely enough, but it took me a few chapters to realize that the gods Alcestis spoke of were actually real and not metaphorical A lot of things described in the book were hard for me to imagine for some reason Not a lot of action happens, but Alcestis thinks a lot about the things going on around her and has a strange obsession with her sister.I didn t know the myth of Alcestis, so about 2 3s through the book, I thought Whoa, this can t be right When I looked up the myth, I noticed that the author did take some liberties with Alcestis s myth, especially the underworld part And it was at the underworld part that my brain reacted with WTF just happened Nope NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE This is the type of book that you read to people and then discuss with them afterwards You make it very clear that Persephone behavior is unacceptable She is an abuser and should be left and or sent to therapy I don t care if she is a goddess I don t care if she is a woman Persephone s behavior is unacceptable.Some people may think, Oh, it s so sweet that she wanted to show her love before Alcestis turned into a shade Oh, it s so touching Persephone will always remember even though Alcestis forgets Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait Can we go back to the part where Persephone pretty much rapes her and abuses her power to take advantage of Alcestis and keeps secrets from her Cause I really just can t deal with that part That s the absolute reason why I rated this book as a one star book There is nothing romantic about someone who violates your will There is nothing loving about someone holding her power over your head This is just not ok.Alcestis even claims that she could ve refused Persephone Yeah, but I don t think Persephone would ve stopped if Alcestis refused I think the fact that Persephone pins down Alcestis arms shows that Persephone didn t plan to stop.The fact that Alcestis calls this love is what makes me really angry When someone nearly rapes you, that s not love That s oppression and a violation of your self I don t care if it s man man, man female, or female female, rape is rape, and it s not ok It s really unfortunate that Alcestis couldn t find someone better than Persephone Whether they re dating men or other women, women need healthier relationships than those displayed in this book. I m torn on this one It was spellbinding, but in a soft, dusty way Alcestis as a character is too obedient for most of her life to have any colour to her The bit in the Underworld is still quite colourless, quite literally, except for Persephone I was actuallyinterested in the relationship between Hades and Persephone than that between Persephone and Alcestis I wanted to understand them, what made them tick, what made them volatile.I understand that there s actually a degree of historical accuracy here to way a real Alcestis would ve lived, just with the gods treated as a rational part of everyday life as well, but she seems so meek and resigned until she s in the Underworld I can appreciate the liberation of a female character from a stifling traditional role that must have been so flattering to the men in that male dominated world, and it makes sense it could happen in the Underworld, where the rules of life don t apply.I guess in summary, I just didn t fall for it There were some lovely sections, gorgeous imagery, and there was some interesting interplay between characters, but all in all it didn t work for me. Started out great, giving Alcestis backstory while growing up and was good through her marriage, but I lost her when we got to Hades and her adventures there I skimmed most of it set in Hades, then finished up Her dealings with Persephone were not believable and made me uncomfortable I enjoyed most the author s comments at the back Cover misled me such an atmospheric cover made me eager to read the story. {READ PDF} ⛓ Alcestis é Beutner Has Elevated A Relatively Minor Character In Greek Mythology To A Major Player Taking Center Stage In This Debut Novel Is Alcestis, The Fabled Good Wife Who Sacrificed Herself In Order To Save Her Much Loved Husband, King Admetus In This Reworking Of The Classic Legend, A Decidedly Complex And Restless Alcestis Is Provided With An Intriguing Backstory Involving Her Childhood And The Untimely Death Of Her Favorite Sister, Hippothoe When Admetus Is Too Cowardly To Face His Own Death, Alcestis, Hopeful Of Reuniting With Hippothoe, Agrees To Take His Place In The Underworld It Is Here In Death That Alcestis Wrestles With The True Nature Of Love And Loss, As She Falls Under The Seductive Spell Of Persephone Margaret Fuller, Booklist This book sucked me in real quick I read it in one night.