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Jocasta: The Mother-Wife of Oedipus Paperback – December 5, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A real page-turner . . . a wonderfully nuanced novel that repays previous knowledge of its subject matter - but never requires it" -- Historical Fiction Review, August 15, 2004

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

Dartmouth graduate Victoria Grossack leads an international life, with homes in Switzerland and Arizona and a professional career in the financial industry that has spanned the Atlantic. She is fluent in German and French (and English of course) and has an MBA. Her last full-time position was as a Senior Vice President in New York City for a reinsurance company, but she is currently writing full-time and living with her husband who is a professor at the University of Arizona. Her writing has been published in Contingencies, Woman's World, I Love Cats, and The Journal of Actuarial Practice. She was a regular columnist for Fiction Fix, writing monthly articles that have been used in several writing classes. She teaches writing courses at Coffeehouseforwriters on historical fiction, creating characters, and the levels of structure in fiction. She also tutors mathematics, as solving problems in algebra and geometry make a nice break from creative writing.

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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 396 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145632781X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1456327811
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,617,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sheila Chilcote-Collins VINE VOICE on September 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
"Iokaste: The Novel Of The Mother/Wife Of Oedipus" by Grossack and Underwood tackles a great greek myth with gusto exposing a woman/wife/mother's point of view to which the likes of Bulfinch & Hamilton would thoroughly appreciate!

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!

Happy Reading!
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Format: Paperback
"Iokaste: The Novel of the Mother-Wife of Oedipus" is a thoroughly entrancing read, a page turner, simply impossible to put down! Grossack and Underwood reveal rich new dimensions of character depth and plot development in their innovative retelling of the story of Oedipus through Iokaste's eyes.

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.
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Format: Paperback
I have not thought much about the Oedipus story in 35 years, but do remember that it was pushed down my throat in school, as many of today's students may feel. However, there is not a dull page in this book, and no lineage charts or maps to make reading it seem like work. All the info is there, though, deftly incorporated in the text. The book is pure pleasure, and as they say, is so enjoyable that you learn without realizing it. I loved the book, as did my daughter who read it along with her Oedipus studies in school.

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?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What an enjoyable read! The Greek myths were not novels or anything like them, even in Homer's telling. So it's great to delve back in and give them novelistic heft, which this book does quite well. Despite the non-action-packed subject matter of the Oedipus myth, and despite the rather heavy lunk of scholarship it wears on its sleeve, the book manages to be an absorbing page-turner.

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.
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