“This retelling of the tragedy of the house of Atreus is magnificently dramatic. Restrained, restricted and undervalued, his Eilis and Nora are recognisable to many readers as our mothers and grandmothers.”
Featured in The Guardian’s Best Fiction Books of 2017.
“A violent, psychologically astute page turner. In visceral, accessible language, Tóibín reanimates the revenge tragedies of Clytemnestra, Agamemnon and their three children, Iphigeneia, Electra and Orestes.”
Featured in NPR’s Book Concierge Great Reads of 2017.
“A reimagining of the Greek tragedy of Clytemnestra and her violent, doomed family.”
Featured in Washington Post’s 50 Notable Fiction Books of 2017.
Violent vengeful lustful and compelling… from the thrilling imagination of best-selling and award-winning author, Colm Tóibín comes the retelling of the story of Clytemnestra in this novel called the House of Names.
Clytemnestra begins the tale of her life in Ancient and legendary Greek city of Mycenae by saying, “I have been acquainted with the smell of death.”
Her husband, King Agamemnon has left with his army, setting sail for Troy and Clytemnestra rules Mycenae along with her lover, Aegisthus. The two are plotting the king’s bloody murder on the day of his return after nine years of war.
Before her actions can be judged, Clytemnestra reveals the tragic saga of events that motivate her to this deadly scheme. The king had placed his need for victory above everything else includes his own child.
The king had deceived her eldest daughter with a promise of marriage to Achilles only to sacrifice her because he was told that it would make the winds blow in his favor to take down Troy. She had seduced and collaborated with the prisoner, Aegisthus who could kill and finally achieved vengeance when the king finally came back home with a lover himself.
In Colm Tóibín’s retelling of the House of Names, he gives the ancient characters new life and modern sensibilities that makes Clytemnestra’s need for vengeance not only plausible but understandable. The author brilliantly portrays the mind of one of the Greeks mythology’s most powerful villains to reveal themes of lust, love and pain.
The story is retold in four parts and reveals that the murderess will ultimately be murdered by her own son, Orestes. This is only one of the many twists and turns that make this story so great and worth retelling.