Everyone knows the heroic story of Theseus in the labyrinth, and how Ariadne helped him to defeat the terrifying Minotaur. Yet with this act of bravery, a betrayal of her tyrannous royal father, Ariadne's story is only beginning. The epic tales of ancient poets rarely pause to consider her sacrifice, or what it meant to leave behind her Cretan home and family. Lost in a new kind of labyrinth, Ariadne must quickly learn what it means to be a woman, and a mortal, in a world ruled over by men and gods.
Rating: 4.5 stars Genre: Literary, Historical Fiction Summary: When Ada fails to conceive a child with her new husband, she becomes increasingly desperate. Barren women in her village are often hanged as witches. Fearing that she is cursed, neighbours start refusing to let her attend their births, meaning she can no longer put her expertise as a midwife to use. Frustrated and afraid, Ada runs away to find refuge with a band of outlaws and their charismatic leader known only as the Kid. In this makeshift and marginalised family, women like Ada are finding power beyond the status of their wombs - and taking revenge on the society that has rejected them.
In 1980, Elise follows her lover Connie from London to LA, where Connie’s novel is being adapted into a major film. Their stormy love affair will leave its mark on the city. Three decades later, Rose is on the trail of the mother who left when she was a baby. The only clue she has is a book by elusive novelist Constance Holden, who may hold the key to why her mother left everything behind.
Rating: 4 stars Genre: Literary fiction, magical realism Summary: When David sets out in his fishing boat from the island of Black Conch, on a morning that seems the same as any other, the last thing he expects is to come face-to-face with a mermaid. He always thought such creatures existed only in rumour and legend, but here one stares at his boat in the vulnerable reality of flesh and blood, and he must step in to protect her when American tourists arrive for a hunting trip like no other. David nurtures trust and then love between himself and the mermaid, desperate to carve out a life for them among the richness and darkness of his island home. Yet it remains to be seen whether this fusion of woman and myth can ever be his to hold onto.
Rating: 4.5 stars Genre: Literary fiction Summary: Raised by her mother and three aunts in a bustling Istanbul home, Asya is tired of negotiating their multiplying expectations and dreams of fleeing to lead her own, unfettered life. Across the continents, in America, Armanoush is also struggling to deal with the demands of her large and dissonant family. When the two young women cross paths, they will force their families towards a reckoning with the past that has been almost a century in waiting.
Rating: 4 stars Category: Literary fiction Summary: In 1980, Elise follows her lover Connie from London to LA, where Connie's novel is being adapted into a major film. Their stormy love affair will leave its mark on the city. Three decades later, Rose is on the trail of the mother who left when she was a baby. The only clue she has is a book by elusive novelist Constance Holden, who may hold the key to why her mother left everything behind.
Rating: 4 stars
Category: Literary fiction
Following a sort-of breakup with her boyfriend, Queenie enters full rebound mode. But as she trawls dating apps, she soon realises that hooking up is hard enough without the added problem of racial fetishisation. To make things even worse her old-fashioned relatives view therapy as shameful and her boss at the magazine isn’t letting her write about anything she genuinely cares about.
As she bounces haplessly from one poor decision to another, Queenie realises that there’s nothing like hitting rock bottom to give you a whole new set of priorities.
Rating: 4.5 stars Category: Literary fiction Synopsis: The Shock of the Fall begins with nine-year-old Matthew experiencing a tragedy which he cannot tell us about. It's just too painful. For the rest of the story, we follow him through the years of childhood, adolescence and into his first grimy flat and minimum-wage job. All the while, Matthew's grasp of reality fragments as he struggles to come to terms with what happened that fateful night on the coast.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Category: Literary fiction, retellings
Synopsis: “Sing, Muse, he said, and I have sung ... I have sung of the women, the women in the shadows. I have sung of the forgotten, the ignored, the untold.”
The names of the Trojan war heroes echo down the centuries - Achilles, Odysseus, Agamemnon - while the women drawn into its devastation remain a footnote in all these songs and stories.
In A Thousand Ships, Natalie Haynes attempts to imagine, not one, but many voices for these women. From the most powerful goddess to the lowliest priest girl that serves her, each is irrevocably changed by the men's war, each has a story. And that story deserves to be told.