Colleen's Reviews > Love Underground: Persephone's Tale:

Love Underground by Alicia Fields
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really liked it

** spoiler alert ** This was an interesting read, particularly as I'd just finished reading The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer. I was dubious about this book due to the back cover's rather shallow description of the story, but I was pleasantly surprised by the actual story, which is not nearly as focused on the unpleasant "sexy bad boy" trope as the back cover would have you believe.

Honestly, the back cover does such a disservice to the actual story, which has very little to do with "the startling revelation that bad boys can be fun" and much more to do with a lot of different women recognizing the complications of love and coming to understand the power of their right to choose or reject love.

I really loved this book for the way in which it deals with romance: it doesn't portray it as this typical, one-dimensional thing, but shows how nuanced and complex love can be and how different women respond to it. Persephone's story is of course the most detailed and interesting: her interactions with Hades are great, and both of their characters have solid depth that makes them a pleasure to read. Persephone shows a strong interest in learning things and exploring the outside world and matures so much as the story moves on. She also draws a distinction between wanting sex and wanting to be married - something that all too often isn't recognized. Sex and marriage usually go hand in hand in books like this.

But it isn't just Persephone who struggles with love. Persephone's friend Echo struggles with watching all of her friends be married off while trying to decide if marriage is right for her. Her other friend Narcissa marries and finds the burden of duty and loss of her autonomy so horrible she ultimately can't survive it. Even Demeter gets a complex love story, where she felt betrayed by her young lover and came back bitter, but finds him again and reconciles with him slowly over what happened in their youth. And while I was uncomfortable with Clytie being labeled a "slut" (I am definitely not here for slut-shaming), we even come to understand Clytie's perspective by the end, as she tells an old man who she is sleeping with that she gets the sex she desires while keeping her independence and personal wealth, and when her looks go and she is old she'll have her goats and her farm and her money and not have to deal with another person, as she knows she would become bitter and painful to be around as she ages.

The writing can get a bit dull at points - I found myself glossing over paragraphs on a pretty regular basis - but the characters definitely make this book a worthy read. I'm interested to read the other book I picked up in this series, to see if it maintains the complex narrative of women in relation to love.

One more point of contention: it's extremely difficult to tell whether this take on the Greek myths is actually portraying the characters as gods. The question is never really answered, and maybe it was never meant to be; but I for one found it extremely annoying trying to guess whether these characters were genuinely human or whether they were something more. Demeter is called a witch but isn't believed to be a goddess; Persephone certainly isn't a goddess, though she *might* have some kind of power; Hades is probably a god but refuses to say so; Hermes is supposedly lying about his god status. I just would have preferred it if the lines in this matter were clearer (though Hades' dubious nature is a little more acceptable than the rest.)

Overall, an unexpected pleasure and a good read.
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Reading Progress

January 15, 2014 – Started Reading
January 15, 2014 – Shelved
January 15, 2014 – Finished Reading

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