In Ancient Greece, a skilled marble sculptor has been blessed by a goddess who has given his masterpiece – the most beautiful woman the town has ever seen – the gift of life. Now his wife, he expects Galatea to please him, to be obedience and humility personified. But she has desires of her own, and yearns for independence.
In a desperate bid by her husband to keep her under control, she is locked away under the constant supervision of doctors and nurses. But with a daughter to rescue, Galatea is determined to break free whatever the cost…
I’ve loved both of Madeline Miller’s Greek Retellings – The Song of Achilles (review here) and Circe (review here), granted I was late to the Greek Mythology party but now I am here, I am here to stay. Published in time for Mother’s Day this beautiful book made the perfect gift from my teenage son, yes I dropped some hints! And I devoured it in a matter of hours. At only 50 pages in a physically small book this is a short story, a pretty gift and a nice edition to my growing collection.
As a newbie I am not ( maybe a little bit) ashamed to say I was not familiar with Ovid’s tale of Galatea so like all my reading in this genre I was coming in fresh. With that in mind I felt there was a lot more to this tale and I wondered why it had to be so short! That is not a criticism- this is a gorgeous book and I enjoyed the story immensely. Told from the perspective of Galatea this is a feminist retelling, giving Galatea a voice and opinions. In contrast to Pygmalion who who takes pride in his wife and her beauty but wants her to be just that, a thing of beauty.
As with all the retellings in this genre, this has made me want to know more about these mythological characters, to read the earlier stories and learn more. But Miller, in telling this story in this way highlights the place of women in history and now, idolised for their beauty but not valued for themselves. How much has really changed I wonder?
About the Author
Madeline Miller is the author of The Song of Achilles, which won the Orange Women’s Prize for Fiction 2012, was shortlisted for the Stonewall Writer of the Year 2012, was an instant New York Times bestseller, and was translated into twenty – five languages. Miller holds an MA in Classics from Brown University, and she taught Latin, Greek and Shakespeare to high school students for over a decade. Her second novel, Circe, was a number one international bestseller and shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019.