I have to admit that I get a little nervous picking up a book that is over 600 pages long or an audiobook that is over 20 discs. Occasionally I’ll put aside my fear and in these two instances I’m very glad I did.
Roses by Leila Meacham
This is the story of the three families who settled Howbutker, Texas in the 1800s. One family runs the department store, another a lumber company and finally, the third, a cotton plantation. The story focuses on three generations of these families starting in the early 1900s through to the present day, which in this tale is 1985. This is an intriguing tale that is revealed little by little as the reader discovers how the mistakes of the elder family members are being repeated and how the current generation must change their ideals or they will follow in their footsteps.
This is a story with a homespun feel. At times it is melancholy, at times it is heartwarming; the ups and downs follow the events of life. Hopefully our families don’t have quite as many skeletons rattling around in our closets.
For those looking for one of those sweeping sagas the likes of which haven’t really been seen since the 1980s – don’t miss this one!
Helen of Troy by Margaret George
George writes in her author’s note that there is no evidence of Helen’s existence at all, but we all know of her, especially her parents (remember Leda and the swan?) and the face that launched a thousand ships. Yet she makes Helen so real and amazingly likeable.
This is the story of Helen’s childhood in Sparta, her marriage to Menelaus and her journey to Troy with Paris. The events of the Trojan War, all those things told in the Iliad up to and including the Trojan Horse, are also detailed here. And finally, we find out what happens to Helen after the Trojan War, how she adapts to being with Menelaus again and living in Sparta.
We see all these events through a unique perspective: Helen’s. At the core this is an accessible retelling of the Iliad from the viewpoint of a woman not involved in the fighting. Since it is told in first person, we really get to know what makes Helen tick and why she made the decisions she did. Wonderful on audio, but it will need a time commitment from the listener – it’s 30 ½ hours long.