Celia's Reviews > Orpheus Lost

Orpheus Lost by Janette Turner Hospital
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's review
Nov 08, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: general-fiction
Read in October, 2008

I love Hospital's writing, and I think even if you didn't enjoy Orpheus Lost, you can't deny the skill of Hospital as an author.

Orpheus Lost is a re-working of the myth of Orpheus - although any subtleties would have been lost on me, given that my knowledge of the myth is Orpheus seeks to retrieve Eurydice from the dead, and looks back at the last minute only to lose her forever. Our Orpheus in Orpheus Lost is Mishka, whom Leela discovers playing his violin in the subway. They become lovers, and we explore each of their backgrounds - Mishka's in the Daintree rainforest, Leela's in the American South with her religious father. I found the Daintree rainforest sections a bit forced in their descriptiveness, but that's probably because of my familiarity with the area.

Mishka occasionally disappears overnight, and after a bombing in the city Leela is approached by the secret service with questions about Mishka's movements. The story moves on from there, and overseas. Leela's role is to bring Mishka home, from the land of the dead he finds himself in, while Mishka struggles to come to terms with the past he came to find. Parts of the story are quite viscerally horrifying, particularly those that evoke Abu Ghraib.

As a whole I really enjoyed the book, although I found some of the sequences, which are written in a dream-like hallucinatry manner, a little too confusing when they were stationed during vital places in the plot.
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