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Jocasta: The Mother-Wife of Oedipus by Victoria Grossack and Alice Underwood: A Book Review

Jocasta: The Mother-Wife of Oedipus

Author: Victoria Grossack, Alice Underwood

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Publisher: CreateSpace

Release Date: 2010

Pages: 262

Source: My personal collection

Synopsis: Young and beautiful, born to a powerful family, Jocasta is destined to become Queen of Thebes... trapped in a loveless marriage, she cannot save her firstborn child from her husband's wrath... left alone on the throne after her husband's death, she must contend with the dangerous Sphinx and contrive a plan to protect her city...charmed by a foreign prince, she does not know she is falling in love with her own son...

My Review: Oedipus is one of the most tragic stories in Greek mythology. The myth explains that one cannot escape one’s fate. This novel retells the myth, but through Jocasta’s eyes. Jocasta is also a victim of fate. No matter how powerful she is as a queen of Thebes, she was powerless in preventing her own horrific destiny from coming true. 

     I found Jocasta to be a hard character to like. She is a very vain woman. She believes that she is the most beautiful and wisest queen Thebes ever had. She is very selfish. She doesn’t care if any of her actions will cause harm to others as long as she benefits from it. She manipulates the people around her. She is also very ruthless at times and is willing to kill whoever stands in the way of her happiness. With these qualities, it was hard to find anything good in Jocasta. Even though she is the protagonist of the story, she is more of an anti-heroine. Her actions brought severe consequences to her loved ones.

     Jocasta suffers from being told rather than shown. The reader does not know what makes Jocasta a good ruler to her people. The reader is told by Jocasta that she was one of the best rulers of Thebes. None of the characters are given much depth is the novel. Laius is the stereotypical negligent husband who hates Jocasta for no reason. Oedipus is the typical perfect love interest. He is handsome, wise, and athletic. He is a man with no flaws. The only character that is given the most depth is Creon. Creon is a man that loves his sister and is willing to do anything for her. He is Jocasta’s right hand man

     Overall, this novel tells the story of a woman whose obsessive love brought the downfall of others. The authors have done a fantastic job in painting the setting. Thebes is given a very realistic portrayal. It’s glamorous beauty is only a façade about how dangerous it was to be a ruler of Thebes. The people of Thebes are very fickle. They seem to love their ruler at first, but when the ruler makes a mistake, they turn on them. This is very evident because Jocasta was a well-loved queen, but once her secret was out, the people of Thebes wanted to kill her. Thus, the authors show how the citizens’ love for their ruler can backfire in only a matter of moments. Therefore, the authors had a unique idea to retell the myth from a secondary character, but it was not well-executed. I recommend this novel to those that love Circe, Helen of Troy, and Penelopiad. Yet, Jocasta shows how the original myth is better than this retelling.

Rating: 2 ½ out of 5 stars


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