Saturday, 14 June 2014

Helen's Daugther - by Frances Thomas

Reviewed by Jackie Marchant

The first thing I’m going to say about this book is that it is self-published.  That’s one of those expressions that used to get me wondering – why hasn’t this book been picked up by a traditional publisher?  I have to be honest, the term  ‘self-published’ used to set alarm bells ringing.  I expected something amateurish which immediately answered my question – it wasn’t good enough, the poor author deluded into thinking publishers were wrong not to take it on, etc, etc.  It used to be normal for self-published books to be very much second rate.

But there is a new breed of self-publishers emerging.  Those who are already published, who have proven themselves capable of writing good books, but find themselves at the mercy of publishers who feel their work is not ‘commercial enough’.  These are books that would probably sell well, but now that publishers have to shift  ever increasing numbers to make a profit, that is no longer enough.  The result is a whole lot of wonderful books that are not being traditionally published.  This is one of them.

Helen’s Daughter  is the first in a three part Girls of Troy series.  It is written from the viewpoint of Helen’s daughter Hermione, who is whisked away to live with her uncle Agamemnon, after her furious father Menelaus learns that his wife Helen has absconded to Troy with her lover, Paris.   While the fascinating story of Helen and Paris and her furious husband’s resolve is all there, the focus stays with Hermione and the effects these events have on her.   This gives the story a delightful blend of myth and reality, where the world of ancient Greece is depicted so well that you feel like you are living the story with Hermione.

The story starts with a frightened young girl in the back of a cart, being taken away from everything she knows.  It deals with growing up in a world that is very limiting to girls, while the events happening around can be terrifying.  It is also a coming of age story and deals with friendship and first love.   Bearing in mind the events that were going on at the time, there are some shocking moments in this, but they are beautifully handled.  It is a well-written book told through a heroine who might not be gung-ho and kick-ass, but has a subtle inner strength that makes her all the more likeable. 

This is a book that deserves publication and I hope the self-published venture pays off.



Penny Dolan said...

So glad that you drew attention to this, Jackie. Sounds like an excellently written book - and lovely cover too.

Enid Richemont said...

Frances - such a beautiful cover image. I shall certainly buy this (I've never read you, so this will be a good starting point).

Katherine Langrish said...

I too can heartily recommend this book; it deals with a little-known area of the story of the war between the Greeks and Trojans, it's beautifully written; and your comment about the 'subtle inner strength' of the heroine is spot-on!

Also, what a lovely cover!

Ellen Renner said...

I shall look forward to reading this! Sounds an interesting treatment/heroine and the cover is absolutely gorgeous!

C.J.Busby said...

Sounds great - have made an impulse purchase on the back of your recommendations!

Ann Turnbull said...

A belated response - I've just read this book and agree with everything you say about it, Jackie.

Laura Gill said...

It has a beautiful cover and I will check it out, even though I published a novel about Hermione in 2011 also called Helen's Daughter.

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