Belles Livres's Reviews > Jocasta: The Mother-Wife of Oedipus

Jocasta by Victoria Grossack
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Feb 21, 12

Read from February 15 to 19, 2012

This book is one of those, whether you know the story or not, you will enjoy. It is one where you feel you are with the characters right away, inside the story, in their scenes. The characters are all vibrant and different: Jocasta, Creon, Laius, Oedipus, the Tiresias (three different Tiresiases!), the Sphinx, and even the various servants.

The heroine, Jocasta, is sympathetic and believable. She’s beautiful, of course, and although I have a slight prejudice against the tendency of authors to make their characters beautiful, I don’t think the story would work otherwise. At least the authors don’t make her perfect – she hates her husband’s mistress, who is more trapped in her bad situation than Jocasta – but she is charming. I was reminded a little of the Diana-Charles-Camilla triangle, with Jocasta in the position of Diana. But don’t let that comparison stop anyone from reading this!

When Oedipus appears, she does fall rather quickly in love, to which some might object. But attraction between many people is instantaneous, and in this case it is more believable because on one level she recognizes him.

Many scenes really grabbed me. The birth of Oedipus; Oedipus’s riddle-scene with the Sphinx; Jocasta’s temptation when she realizes that Pelorus-Tiresias has figured out her secret. Mostly this is a book about secrets. They all have them, and eventually they all get exposed.

One small quibble because I read the Niobe prequel trilogy, which I also heartily rcommend: the authors changed the spelling from Kreon to Creon. Both are transliterations, so I guess it doesn’t matter.

Some may think that with all these hard names, that it’s going to be a hard book. It is not a hard book. Nor is it a shallow book. Despite the suck-you-in nature of the story, deeper issues are explored. Many Greeks had an attitude that your score at your death determined whether or not you led a happy life – but Jocasta challenges this, and challenges those around her, to live and love despite what the Fates have planned.
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