Release date- 3rd May, 2022.
CW: Rape, Incest, Mutilation, Sexual Assault.
Jennifer Saint, author of Ariadne, is back with her second novel, Elektra. A retelling of the Greek myth of Elektra, the origins of the Trojan War, and the curse of the House of Atreus. Told from the viewpoints of three women, this novel is an excellent insight into Greek history without remembering the extra dates.
The three women in the story are: Clytemnestra, Helen’s sister and Agamemnon’s wife. Helen is taken to Troy by Paris and Agamemnon raises an army to win the battle. Next is Cassandra, princess of Troy who was cursed by Apollo to see the future but she was never believed. Despite her knowledge about the fall of Troy, she can’t do anything. Lastly is Elektra, Clytemnestra and Agamemnon’s daughter, who conspired with her brother to kill her mother and his lover in revenge for her father’s murder. I had only a vague basic idea about Clytemnestra and Elektra but I always felt bad for Cassandra whom no one believed because she did not give into Apollo’s sexual advances. All the three women are superbly shown in all their complexities, pettiness, ambitions, glories, and disasters.
Cassandra’s chapters were my favorite. The reader sees her family history and her growth from a child to an adult. Every woman who has been dismissed for her beliefs or her version of any event will be able to connect to Cassandra after she’s cursed. Clytemnestra’s motivation to kill Agamemnon makes sense but so does her emptiness after her revenge is fulfilled. My least favorite character is Elektra as I had a hard time understanding her mindless and blind devotion to her father with who she does not even have a long relationship. Elektra and Clytemnestra’s conversations were revealing in many ways, especially the complications and motivations behind their actions.
The Electra complex is a psychoanalytic term used to describe a girl’s sense of competition with her mother for the affections of her father. It has been debunked but the origin is from the Greek character of Elektra. Saint shows Elektra’s feelings for her father and I found that hard to connect to. There were times when I was struggling to understand her viewpoint but it still makes sense, if seen from a historical perspective.
Elektra is an excellent reimagining of the three women, Clytemnestra, Cassandra, and Elektra. The reader will be hard pressed to pick a favorite. Personally, I enjoyed it as I like reading alternative stories and reimagined tales, and for fans of this category, Elektra is a must read. You can find more about Saint on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
This might sound odd but, believe it or not, earlier this year I wrote a short play reimagining an alternative Electra story that takes a different slant on her and brings Pylades centre-stage. It has been submitted for an annual playwriting competition conducted in Mumbai. If anyone is interested, will gladly to share.
p.s. the reason I landed on your page is becoz it showed up when I googled Jennifer Saint’s novel, which I happened to see in a bookshop window this w/end.
Edit: “…will gladly share.”