Author Jennifer saint’s novel Elektra based on the Greek tragedy of the same name by Sophocles sets a blazing path for the tragedy’s three female characters, obscured by the myths and legends of Greek men: Clytemnestra, Cassandra, and Elektra to take the center stage denied to them for eons in the Greek literature on the background of the great Trojan War.
In this Greek imaginative retelling, the three women are given their voices in this novel to express their pain and anger that has been hidden from the readers, submerged underneath the triumphs of Greek heroes. In this powerful novel, the lives of the three women get intertwined as their lives are ravaged by the consequences of the great Trojan War.
The House of Atreus is cursed. It began with Tantalus. He brought the wrath of the Olympic gods by serving them cooked meat of his sons and being punished to Tartarus, forever perched for a drop of water and food well within his reach but forbidden. The curse passed on to progenies, killing their kings and reinforcing the curse for the generations to come. What is common between the female characters are that they are intricately tied together by the curse of Atreides and the ravages of the war.
Clytemnestra, daughter of King Tyndareus of Sparta and Queen Leda, sister of legendary Greek character Helen, and the wife of the great king of Mycenae Agamemnon is struck down with the bereavement of losing her daughter Iphigenia to the sacrificial altar in Aulis to gain the favors of the goddess Artemis for the sake of favorable winds.
Cassandra, daughter of King Priam of Troy and Queen Hecabe, priestess of the god Apollo and prophetess striked down with the cruel vengeance of the god she serves for resisting him, granted to foresee the future believed by none leading ostracizing her by the society. She loses her family and the city and earns when Troy falls at the hands of Agamemnon’s army.
Elektra, daughter of King Agamemnon of Mycenae and Queen Clytemnestra loses her father at the hands of her own mother. Devoid of her father’s presence and love coupled with the pain of the lost years of his absence, she vows revenge against her mother and her lover Aegisthus, the usurper of her father’s throne.
Each titular character moves forward with their stories and perspectives, trials and tribulations, and strong emotions intricately tied together by the curse of Atreides which were quite unheard of, never read or felt before by the readers and lovers of Greek mythology and legends.
The immersive narrative brings out the fickle nature of humans especially focusing on men and gods who control the lives of others through their whimsical acts and impulses, paying no heed to the consequences then suffered by others.
The most important feature of the book here is that the female characters have been presented as being morally gray. Each character is plagued by their own form of grief, is at war with their emotions, occupied with their thoughts, and does not hesitate to act on what they consider right even though it clashes with the notions and actions of others the action itself being transformed into a form of catharsis, a purge of the hatred and pain, which in turn makes them a creature of loathing to others.
The actions and the thoughts of men have always been given more precedence than those of women. Their voices and their purposes are more agreed to and revered than those of women. Their actions have compelled women to bear the consequences produced by the same; their thoughts have never been heard or understood by the minds of men.
This Greek retelling shows us what the men dominated world has been to women in the past. That the freedom of rights we women have today is the fruit of the struggles of the women of the past, some of whose needs went unmet or voices went unheard and then, they consciously took it upon themselves to raise their voices and make the space for their future generation of women to have their voices be heard.
Jennifer Saint had previously authored her debut novel ‘Ariadne’ which was based on the Greek myth of Theseus and Minotaur and the novel progressed through the perspective of Ariadne, a Cretan princess. The book is available on Amazon and other bookish retail sites.
Elektra has been officially published on 3 May by the publishing house Pan Macmillan and is now available for buying in major online retail sites and bookstores worldwide.