Friday, May 2, 2014

{Blog Tour} Review: Just Myrto by Laurie Gray

Title: Just Myrto
Author: Laurie Gray
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

As a young woman in Ancient Greece, Myrto is doubly cursed to have been born both a mortal and a female.
When her father dies, leaving no dowry for her to marry, she wonders whether her brother will find her a husband or sell her into slavery. Although she'd rather have a kind master than a cruel husband, her brother decides to give Myrto to his former teacher Socrates as a second wife.
Being a second wife is not easy for Myrto, and while her new husband treats her kindly, his first wife Xanthippe is nothing but cruel. Myrto spends much of her time away from home in an attempt to avoid being alone with the terrifying Xanthippe, and soon strikes up an intellectual friendship with her husband's student, Plato. Although she wants nothing more than a friend, he has designs on more.
Now Myrto must discover where she belongs in this quickly changing world. Will she accept the lot she has been given by her family, succumb to romantic love, or pave the way for women of the future to live better lives?
As her personal journey through Ancient Greek Metaphysics unfolds, will she always be defined by her relationships with men? Or will she discover the joy of being Just Myrto?

I love anything having to do with this time period. Ancient Greece and Rome is my favorite subject to learn about, and one of my favorite time periods to read about. So I knew I had to read this book, because there aren't many in out there from this time period.

Myrto has been taking care of her father for years, leaving her older than normal marriageable age, and without a dowry. Her brother offers her hand in marriage to the philosopher Socrates, who accepts. Myrto then travels to his home and becomes his wife.

First, let me say that it is SO WEIRD to have an ancient, historical, wizened figure as a normal, everyday character. Socrates is one of the most renowned philosophers in all of history, not just another man. And Plato is the genius philosopher guy, not some hot young guy. And yet, here they were, just normal people doing normal Ancient Greek things. Weird.

Second, I feel the summary is a bit misguided. It definitely hints at more between Myrto and Plato when there was actually...nothing. Like, she sees him and they have a conversation, and the end. Then, throughout the book, they see each other occasionally, but nothing really happens. Yes, something happens at the end, but Plato wasn't as big of a character as I was hoping, which was disappointing. 

Also, I wasn't a big fan of Myrto herself. I thought I would be. A girl who stands up for her rights and makes the way for women to be treated more fairly in Ancient Greece? Totally my thing. But Myrto wasn't really like that. Instead, I found her to be more spoiled, which was surprising, considering her circumstances. Xanthippe is painted as this terrible, cruel person, when in reality, she didn't really do anything. Yeah, she was a bit upset when Socrates brought Myrto home, but then all Myrto did was sit in her room and whine and act entitled. She didn't help Xanthippe with a single chore or do anything. So I can see why Xanthippe wasn't exactly her biggest fan.

That said, I loved the culture and the history of Ancient Greece. In fact, I wish there was more of it. The philosophy, while at times, was a bit much, was interesting and reminiscent of the time period. And, although weird, it was still intriguing to see the "normal" lives of the people that we hold in such high esteem today.

I think Xanthippe became my favorite character, with her caring for the exposed girls (girls left out to die when a family couldn't afford to care for them/didn't want a girl). And although the synopsis says that Myrto paves the way for women of the future to live better lives, I think it was Xanthippe. Sure, Myrto was the one who learned to read and Xanthippe couldn't, but would Myrto have thought of sharing that rare gift with all the girls in the house with Xanthippe forcing her to? Doubtful. And maybe that comes from a bias towards Myrto, but I think Xanthippe was a much different character than she was painted to be.

Lamprocles, Xanthippe's and Socrates' son, was also an enjoyable character. His excitement about reading and learning were contagious, something I wish all kids his age could have. And even though what he wants to do with his life is different than the norm, he was okay with it. He just wanted to do what he loved. I admire that.

I still very much enjoyed this book, even with the few issues I had with Myrto and too much philosophy. Although I wish we could have seen more of Plato and other historical figures, it will definitely appeal to fans of historical fiction, especially if you like the Ancient Greek time period.

This review can also be found on   Rachel Marie's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

Laurie Gray:

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Laurie Gray has worked as a high school teacher, a deputy prosecuting attorney, and the founder of Socratic Parenting LLC. In addition to writing, speaking and consulting, Laurie currently works as a bilingual child forensic interviewer at her local Child Advocacy Center and as an adjunct professor of criminal sciences at Indiana Tech. She has served on the faculty of the National Symposium for Child Abuse in Huntsville, Alabama, annually since 2009. Her debut novel Summer Sanctuary (Luminis Books/2010) received a Moonbeam Gold Medal for excellence in young adult fiction and was named a 2011 Indiana Best Book Finalist. Her second novel, Maybe I Will (Luminis Books/ 2013) received a Moonbeam Bronze Medal.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for reading and reviewing Just Myrto. I love how Xanthippe became your favorite character!