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The Leto Bundle Hardcover – April 14, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Prolific fiction and nonfiction writer Marina Warner draws on grand themes of history and belonging in her ambitious new novel, The Leto Bundle, in which a collection of cryptic documents and artifacts once belonging to Leto, a woman of the ancient Near East, is put on exhibit in present-day Europe and causes an unexpected stir. Kim McQuy, an idealistic schoolteacher, becomes obsessed with the idea of Leto and strikes up an odd working relationship with matter-of-fact museum curator Hortense Fernly. Warner's deft command of her material and her ability to create fully believable charactersmanages to both question and applaud the power of myth in modern society, and readers will be entranced with the magical pull of this well-told tale.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Leto is a Titan. Leto, a mortal, is raped by Zeus and gives birth to twins who have no navels. Leto and her twins are rescued by a she-wolf. Another leap forward in time, and an archaeologist finds the "Leto Bundle," a female mummy's stash. Leto and her twins are sold into slavery, then escape only to find themselves in the midst of a horrific modern war. Novelist Warner, also a cultural historian and author most recently of No Go the Bogeyman (1999), interleaves the spellbinding, time-warping tale of Leto--an ur-woman surviving brutality and deprivation, the mythic self-sacrificing mother, the perpetual unwanted refugee--into a shrewd contemporary plot anchored to a museum exhibit of the "Leto Bundle." The display causes an uproar as Kim, a young man of uncertain origins, claims to be in touch with Leto, the goddess of "everyone who's been driven from home." Drawing art historian Hortense and famed singer Gramercy into his cosmic quest, he hopes to establish a "new secular church" that will resolve ethnic and racial conflicts. A superb and cunning storyteller with the acumen of Atwood and Byatt, Warner, nimbly improvising on Woolf's Orlando, has created a prismatic epic of tremendous social resonance and emotional sounding. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
The mysterious writings on the bundle of linen found in the sarcophagus of "Helen" or Leto do not quite unfurl the magic I would have hoped to discover but perhaps that is of necessity since the story dwells not in a Greek or Hellenistic or Byzantine past but throughout history into the present. The story of Leto, her desperate love and challenges, compelled my turning of pages in spite of the fact the at the outer frame of the story, the tale in present time, seemed to receive far less imaginative attention. The characters of Gramercy (the rock star), Kim (the grade school teacher) and Hortense (the art historian) seem slight in comparison to the history of the Leto Bundle and so they prove less sympathetic.
In no way do I regret having read this novel. It's not stellar but it's far from dreary, on account of the author's imagination and historical grasp (though place names in the story are imagined they convey allusions to realia). To my mind, Warner proves more spellbinding, inspiring, persuasive and natural a writer in her historical works and essays than in her fiction.