52 Good Books

Book Review 28 – Mythos by Stephen Fry

Book Review 28 – Mythos by Stephen Fry

Mother’s Day highjacked the blog a bit this week. I sat about enjoying not doing very much and drinking cups of tea and clean forgot to write you good people a blog post! Luckily I had drafted most of this one already so when I finally got to it at 11pm on Sunday night there was only a bit left to do. Phew!

So I have to tell you that I think Stephen Fry is telepathic. You see over the past few weeks, I had just been thinking that I really wanted to find out more about Greek Mythology. The references to it are everywhere, in books, in the way our everyday language is formed, even in the way stars and planets are named. I was just thinking this when I walked into the pricey but delightful Daunt Books on Cheapside on one of my lunch-breaks. And what did I see? Stephen Fry had read my mind, gone back in time, spent months and months compiling all the information of various Greek Myths and putting them together in this book Mythos. Either that or he just happened to write this stupendous book at the moment that I happened to be looking for it. There are a lot of ‘happens’ in that sentence, so I think I will go for the first explanation. Stephen Fry is after all remarkably clever.

Of course I did desperately want to read this book so I was always going to love it. But let me put it on the line for you. Every time I had to put Mythos down I felt a bit of sadness in my heart because I wasn’t reading it any more. I could hear Fry in every word. Apparently he has narrated an audio version too, so you can literally hear him in every word should you choose to.

Books like this make my challenge seem ridiculously hedonistic. What on earth is challenging about reading this sumptuous book? How could I have the gaul to call this a challenge?! But part of the challenge it remains and I must say that Mythos has done exactly what it said on the tin. It doesn’t cover everything, for example Hercules, Medusa, Oedipus and Icarus (to name a few) don’t make the cut, but It has given me the basic grounding in Greek Mythology that I so desperately craved. This in itself makes me feel like I can start to make sense of other things. As I mentioned our very language comes from these myths. Shakespeare based a lot of his writing on them. Why did we study Shakespeare at my school and not Classics? This stuff is much more fun!

From the fiery gods to the awe inspiring heroes. These stories have love, betrayal, sex, violence, ambition, hope and much much more. I did however engage much more in the first half of the book which was about the twelve main gods than the second part which dealt with multiple demi-gods and heroes. This is probably because the stories of the main gods are all interdependent and so there was a linear storyline that evolved. However the stories of the heroes were short and not interconnected which felt a bit like “and then there was this guy”, “and then there was another guy”, “and then there was this woman….” A bit disjointed and therefore harder to remember but for all that, this book is a sheer delight and I thank my lucky stars for that lunch-break when I ambled into Daunt Books! I would recommend Mythos to everyone. It will open up a world of magic and mystery that was always there just nudging at the edges of your consciousness. This stuff is literally legendary.

Next week I’m taking on an old classic, Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. Come by and have a read as you munch on your own breakfast next Monday.

Leave a Reply