- I found out about this book when I saw it on a list via Flavorwire
Summary from GoodReads:
In The Aeneid, Vergil’s hero fights to claim the king’s daughter, Lavinia, with whom he is destined to found an empire. Lavinia herself never speaks a word. Now, Ursula K. Le Guin gives Lavinia a voice in a novel that takes us to the half-wild world of ancient Italy, when Rome was a muddy village near seven hills.
Lavinia grows up knowing nothing but peace and freedom, until suitors come. Her mother wants her to marry handsome, ambitious Turnus. But omens and prophecies spoken by the sacred springs say she must marry a foreigner—that she will be the cause of a bitter war—and that her husband will not live long. When a fleet of Trojan ships sails up the Tiber, Lavinia decides to take her destiny into her own hands. And so she tells us what Vergil did not: the story of her life, and of the love of her life.
I’m going to admit right now, I’m not very familiar with Virgil’s Aeneid. It’s not exactly “light” reading, and I’m feeling good for having just conquered Beowulf for the first time. That said, I was still insanely interested in Lavinia by Ursula Le Guin when I saw that it was on a list for one of the best books based off of literary classics.
In language that, for all it’s strange names and odd places, is quite simple to read, Ursula Le Guin takes us through the poet’s (Virgil’s) vision of Latinum and Lavinia. Lavinia’s voice is quiet and thoughtful, dictating very precisely her love of the truly pious, which she defines toward the beginning of the book so you are made very aware of what she is looking for. There is fighting, but second-hand retelling of the fighting so the book does not focus on the sensation of it. There’s intrigue and love and desire. There’s a story of respect between fathers and daughters and wives and husbands. And most of all – this book tells a side of a story that doesn’t get told by Virgil, and does it well.
Le Guin did a beautiful job with her research and the writing is really spectacular. This was the first book I’ve read by her and I’ll be seeking out her fantasy novels – if this is any indication, I’ll gladly live in any world she has designed.
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