As always, procrastination wins and I'm once again rushing to finish the book club selection for this month. But reading Ursula LeGuin's LAVINIA has been a treat. Lavinia comes from Virgil's (or Vergil's, depending on your source) 2000-year-old epic poem THE AENEID, where she is given ever-so-brief treatment and truly does not speak a word (though, her hair does catch fire most impressively). Lavinia is the daughter of King Latinus, and a plethora of men are doomed to die over who will eventually marry her. Her eventual marriage to Aeneas (after whom, of course, the epic is titled) signals the founding of the Roman race.
LeGuin weaves a story that imagines Lavinia's life as a young girl, her courting by that asshole Turnus, her eventual marriage to Aeneas--which leads to the war between the Trojans and the Latins--and on to the end of her life.
I do like feminine takes on old tales ... such as Marion Zimmer Bradley's MISTS OF AVALON ... but LAVINIA is more than a "feminist" tale. As one reviewer stated: "The three characters [Lavinia, Latinus, Aeneas] together embody the Roman belief in fate as it relates to the virtue of pietas (dutifulness, spiritual awareness, a deep listening for and acceptance of the truth at the heart of the matter)." It is a novel for anyone interested in classic mythology, and of course for anyone fascinated by the story of the Trojan War.
I don't think having read THE AENEID is essential, but it would certainly enrich the experience. For a translation, I'd suggest Robert Fagles's, which is now out in paperback.
ANYWAY ... book club discussion Monday night (9/29) at the store at 6:00. Wine flows freely, of course.