Reid's Reviews > Lavinia

Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin
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's review
Nov 27, 2011

really liked it
Read in November, 2011

This is a very comfortable book, an easy read that is nonetheless full of enough depth and meaning to make it well worth the reading. It does not give us any great insights or impress us as a work to be revered, perhaps, but tells a grand story is a conversational tone that makes it a pleasure to give our time to it.

The story is of Lavinia, a minor, voiceless character in Vergil's Aeneid who became the titular character's last queen. She tells the tale in the first person and gives us a picture of the noble Aeneas, her husband and great love, the kingdom her father ruled as well as a picture of what would become, long after her death, the great empire of Rome.

As with Margaret Atwood's Penelopiad, a woman is given the voice the great storytellers did not give her, perhaps could not give her in the society in which they found themselves. But these woman have a story that deserves to be told. While taking some liberties with history, customs and some of the trappings (as she freely admits in the afterword), it feels as if Le Guin has been true to the spirit and feeling of the times.

Your life will not be changed by this wonderful book but, if you are like me, you will feel as if you sat by the fire with a truly great storyteller who is filling in the blanks of a story you know well. Why not take a seat here and let her spin her tale? You will be glad you did.
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