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Jocasta: The Mother-Wife of Oedipus Paperback – December 5, 2010
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The Daughter of Union County
To save his heritage, he hides his daughter’s true identity—but he can’t protect her forever. Learn More
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Authors' portrayal of desperate human struggle against prophecy as spirited as the Queen herself -- wonderful follow-up to Oedipus Rex -- Historical Novel Society Online, Fall 2004
This is a riveting book about an intelligent woman to whom big events happen. (Associated Press) -- The Alabama Huntsville-Times, Aug 7 2005
About the Author
Alice Underwood studied classics at The University of Texas and Princeton University while earning her degrees in mathematics. Her passion for antiquity has taken her from the shadowed catacombs of Princeton's libraries to the ruins of Pompeii and the sunny shores of Crete and Santorini. Her work has been published in Consortium, Networks, and The Journal of Actuarial Practice. Currently an Executive Vice President at one of the world's top insurance brokerage firms, Alice lives and works in New York City.
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Top Customer Reviews
The prologue of the novel is set 40 years into Iokaste's reign as Queen Of Thebes on the impending dawn of the day of her demise for her "unspeakable acts". She is questioned by her youngest daughter, Ismene if the "talk of Thebes" is true and Iokaste must answer in the affirmative.
While Iokaste seats her daughter beside her, she tells her child the family story from her beginnings - Iokaste's prophetic betrothal and royal destiny at the tender age of 14 through the present day tumultuous Thebes...
There is little that is written about Queen Iokaste/Jocasta/Epikatse (depending on your preferred or precise translation) and this historical/mythological novel is an authoritative, entertaining and wonderful retelling of one of the most powerful Greek stories in history!
If you enjoy mythology of ANY kind, you will really appreciate this novel as I did!
Instead of another scholar's staid translation of the well-worn Greek text, Grossack and Underwood take us on a compelling journey. Told from the perspective of Iokaste, this novel begins with Iokaste's ill-fated marriage to King Laius, the father of her child Oedipus. As the story unfolds, the authors treat us to a beautiful combination of well-developed character story lines. It is easy to fall in love with the tragic plight of each character.
Laius is held captive to his woeful and single-minded focus on a prophecy that eats every day at his happiness. How one wishes he would live life! Iokaste is an innocent victim of unending and unfair fates. Yet she is a passionate and rich spirit for whom one cannot help but feel wonder and compassion. Oedipus's fate stems from the ill-fate of his Mother. Like Iokaste, he is seemingly innocent, but the Gods, whom Oedipus serves unwaveringly, plague his life with bad omen. And Kreon is a loyal brother in the beginning, yet over time a leader of questionable morals. His story leaves a slightly bitter taste, and one wonders how he has thus far escaped the prophecy of the Gods. The characters come alive with an honesty and accessibility almost never seen in traditional renditions of the Greek classic, truly a treat for any lover of a good read.
Grossack and Underwood's captivating novel whirl winds the imagination into a contemplation of Fate and how to live life to the fullest.Read more ›
There's the great advantage too, to the woman's perspective in the book. For example, we see the teenage Iokaste physically restrained by two different men within a short passage and hear her thoughts express a wide range of feelings, all of which a growing American girl will grapple with today. Also, she shows us the upbringing of a daughter of nobility -from the time when she is displayed as a possible bride choice, through the taking away of her infant son due to fear of the prophecy, to her growth into her duties as queen. This is a truly multi-layered character.
I question the birth scene, only because I suspect that young women of the time had infinitely more knowledge and support about the natural birthing process than young mothers do today, and did not experience it in as painful a way as we do. But I have a home-birth mom's perspective and who knows what was the case?
There will be two sequels highlighting other figures from ancient Greece.
Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont
The writing is engaging, playful, odd, right on the mark, flowered with surprising cultural history and imbued with emotional resonance. The thread of destiny and its relation to faith is both gripping and nuanced, and has, as does the whole tale, the tang of the real. Those familiar with the story will have a few of those silent-on-a-peak-in-Darien moments.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loved it! It was an easy read. Well told and extremely hard to put down, even though we all know how it ends.Published 13 months ago by marram34
This book is pretty good and is told from the viewpoint of Oedipus' wife-mother. This is typical Greek mythology and knowing the story it is given that there can only be a tragic... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Grandma Barbara
ocasta is a classic example of the hero(ine) with a tragic flaw. Even though she tries to step up to the plate to deal with the curves (or the boomerang) that the Fates throw at... Read morePublished on August 18, 2014 by Beverly
This book makes the ancient myth feel so alive that you begin to think that it could have really happened this way. Read morePublished on February 15, 2013 by Sue
I LOVE this book. I love the perspective from where the story came, the woman's point of view for a story so old; very original. Read morePublished on March 20, 2012 by Liz
Our small book group discussed "Jocasta" as a wild card in our list of choices. It turned out to be the most interesting and enjoyable book we have read in several years,... Read morePublished on September 1, 2011 by Jennifer Oxenham
You know those quirky fictions that re-tell a major event of history or legend from a supporting character's point of view? Read morePublished on March 11, 2011 by joyjoy
I am a journalist, who has traveled in this region while studying the Classics. So naturally I was intrigued by Iokaste: The Novel of Mother-Wife of Oedipus's subject matter. Read morePublished on March 26, 2006 by Maeve of Tara