Stealing Athena: A Novel

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Jun 17, 2008 - Fiction - 400 pages
3 Reviews
Stealing Athena is the story of two women, separated by centuries but united by their association with some of the world's greatest and most controversial works of art. Aspasia, a philosopher and courtesan to visionary politician Pericles during Athens's Golden Age, defies societal restrictions to become fiercely influential in Athens' power circle. Mary, the Countess of Elgin and a beautiful Scottish heiress, charms the fearsome men of the Ottoman Empire to make possible her husband's costly acquisitions, all the while brazenly defying the social conventions of her time. Both women prevail yet pay a heavy price for their rebellion. A tale of romance, intrigue, greed, and glory, Stealing Athena interweaves the lives of two of history's most beguiling heroines.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

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Stealing Athena tells the story of two women, Aspasia, courtesan to Pericles, the famous politician who spent his lifetime seeing that beautiful monuments to the Gods were built in Greece; and Mary Elgin whose husband Robert Elgin would spend many years of his life trying to bring all of Greece’s art to England. Through these women’s eyes we learn of all that went into building the Parthenon, a temple to Athena and all that went into the deconstruction of the Parthenon 2000 years later, when Lord Elgin removed many of the marble friezes and had them sent to England, where they are today, known as The Elgin Marbles.
I should have loved this book, as I am a huge fan of historical fiction, particularly those focusing on ancient Rome and Greece, and those set in Victorian England. I was however disappointed in this book. The two stories did not seem to mesh well together and none of the characters came alive for me. The writing was often so descriptive the story would lose momentum. I never really cared for anyone in the book and struggled to finish reading it. At over 450 pages, what this book needed was a good editor to tighten up the story. Not a bad book, but not a very good one either.
 

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Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
1
Section 2
3
Section 3
50
Section 4
77
Section 5
93
Section 6
104
Section 7
118
Section 8
127
Section 16
267
Section 17
282
Section 18
318
Section 19
320
Section 20
337
Section 21
369
Section 22
385
Section 23
389

Section 9
132
Section 10
148
Section 11
152
Section 12
173
Section 13
187
Section 14
206
Section 15
232
Section 24
412
Section 25
424
Section 26
432
Section 27
440
Section 28
446
Section 29
450
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

KAREN ESSEX is the author of Kleopatra, Pharaoh, and the international bestseller Leonardo’s Swans, which won Italy’s prestigious 2007 Premio Roma for foreign fiction. An award-winning journalist and a screenwriter, she lives in Los Angeles, California.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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