Friday, October 12, 2012

The Sweet Girl by Annabel Lyon

An insightful novel about Pythias - Aristotle's Daughter

Pythias is her father's daughter, right down to her hard, intelligent slate-grey eyes. Aristotle has never been able to resist a keen mind in another - even in his own girl-child who should be content with the kitchen, the loom and a life dictated by the rhythms of childbearing. His little Pytho is smart, able to best his students in debate and match wits with a roomful of Athenian thinkers. Is she a freak or a harbinger of what women can really be? Hers is a privileged position, a woman who moves in a man's world, protected by the reputation of her philosopher father. But when the great warrior-king Alexander dies a thousand miles from Athens, sentiment turns against anyone associated with him, most especially his famous teacher, Aristotle. Forced to flee, Aristotle and his family head to the garrison town of Chalcis; however, ailing and broken in spirit, the old philosopher soon dies. Without her father, the orphaned sixteen-year-old Pytho quickly discovers that the world is a place of superstition, not logic, and that a girl can be preyed upon by gods and goddesses, as much as by grown men and women. To safely journey to a place in which she can be everything she truly is, Aristotle's daughter will need every ounce of wit she possesses, but she must also learn, quickly, to nurture her capacity to love.

The Sweet Girl by Annabel Lyon is a novel set in Ancient Greece and is about Aristotle’s daughter, Pythias.

Pythias is a young woman born into great privilege because of her father’s fame, the most learned man of his time. Aristotle is portrayed as a kind, sensitive man who cares deeply for his family, servants, and pupils. Most of all, he loves his daughter whom he endows with as much learning as possible including dissection, philosophy, and logic, among others, contrary to societal practices regarding women at the time.

The Sweet Girl will immerse readers deep into a time long forgotten. With beautiful prose and vibrant descriptions of the world around the strong female character, there is much to keep one reading. This is very much a novel of contrasts with a strong feminist tone, depicting the depravity and social injustices of the time along with the fabulous wealth.

There is strength and depth in the writing, examining issues of morality and values. It is not surprising that this novel was longlisted for the 2013 Giller Prize. Beautifully written and researched, I highly recommend this novel – especially to readers who love ancient societies.

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