After Paris charmed Helen and took her home, the Greek army did not tarry to follow. Princes and kings sailed to Troy either for glory, wealth, fame, or love. This novel relates the events as they unfold from Odysseus’ jolt until the first death of a prince.
I really do not know what this novel was about exactly. Was it about the Trojan War, or was it about the girl from Ithaca? One may argue that they belong to one another as Neomene found herself in the Ithacan camp with her brother Odysseus fighting a war which is not hers.
The story is at times a boring retelling, and other times it is clumsily renewed. It felt as if the author could not decide which comes first: relating how and why the Trojan war was provoked (sometimes authentically sometimes with little twists), or following the personal struggles of Lady Neomene. I assume that the author was inspired by the only sister of Odysseus whom I know as Ctimene (and if I am mistaken please correct me) to build her main character. Neomene. Neomene was a problem for me because she was an attempt at being both original and faithful to the real events. She was at the same time like a broken string and a daring step. She does not feel real to me, but she is a good attempt at originality because we get to have a woman's voice in a men's world.
Neo’s character is a very unstable one. She is a historical puppet in the sense that she relates to me historical events that I already know (though some are fabricated). There is no life in her, no freshness, no deep study of her as an individual, and as a woman. Neo changes from a frail naïve girl to a protector, a friend, a healer, and a lover. Her love affair shadows everything else at some point; even when receiving news about the war, she concentrates on Antiochus and forgets all about her brother.The author attempts to bring something out of her but it is trapped between a submissive sister and a devoted lover and friend. Sometimes too devoted. She is Lady Neoneme yet she only fulfills the role of a servant. Sometimes even servants order her around. She was given a central role only when she was(show spoiler)
But oh not everything was bad in this novel. It shows how it is possible to have fun in the middle of the war. In fact most of the novel concentrates on anything but the war. Death has no grip in the events. Soldiers go and don’t come back but that’s the last of Neo’s worries. I don’t understand why the author has made her take medical lesson if we only get to know about her skills as a nurse when she rarely needs to know how the war is going (and btw she was instructed during one day and was splendid in her work!). I guess Agamemnon was taunting her by ordering her to help the wounded, still she could have become a devoted nurse, and do something better with her life and just wash clothes and wait for her brother while gossiping with wounded soldiers and servants.
I give The Girl from Ithaca 2.5 stars. It is meant for readers who like YA, and who would like to be introduced to the Trojan War, but the fact that it could be introductory does not mean that it was accurate, (sometimes not even closely so). It is very short and only describes the minimum of the first years of the war. Still one can at least pick some names and go from there.
Will I read the sequel? Hmmm Maybe, maybe…