Fiction pick by Jean-Louis
(Random House, 2012)
In The Sweet Girl Annabel Lyon returns to ancient Greece and the family of Aristotle. Her previous wonderful novel, The Golden Mean delved into the domestic life of Aristotle and his relationship to a young Alexander (soon to be “the Great”).
The current novel changes focus and is told through the eyes of Pythias, Aristotle’s intelligent and resourceful daughter. The timing of this story coincides with the deaths of Aristotle and of Alexander. These deaths cause a massive realignment in the life of the nation and in the family. Pythias finds herself in kind of limbo as she strives to find a new balance for her life. The politics of marriage, land ownership, familial and national politics all have an influence on young Pythias.
The world of ancient Greece is fascinating and Lyon does a great job of making it vibrant and alive. There is a wonderful sense of currency in her descriptions of daily life and family relations. The strength of the book lies in its ability to get us to relate to the characters and their situations.
With her keen mind and her strong sense of self, Pythias adapts to the changing situations in her life despite some very difficult choices. The novel takes us along on her journey and we find ourselves rooting for a very plucky young woman.