This review is spoiler-free!
This book was received from the author for review. All opinions are my own.
A Pomegranate and the Maiden is a multifaceted retelling of the story of Demeter and Persephone as told in Homer’s Hymn to Demeter. The many characters speak directly to the listener, presenting multiple perspectives of the same event. Among the voices we hear is that of the mother grieving for her lost child, the daughter struggling for independence, the father who tramples on a mother’s rights, and the lover who resorts to nefarious means to win his beloved. Each perspective is deeply rooted in the character’s psychology and gender. Woven within their narratives are stories familiar to listeners of Greek mythology.
Against the backdrop of our own culture, which still diminishes the value of motherhood and marginalizes women of all ages, these voices speak to us through the centuries and offer new ways of seeing the world we inhabit.
I love mythology as much as the next history buff (unless you’re a history buff that’s not into mythology), so I went into this hoping to get another perspective on the story of Persephone than the ones I was used to reading back when I was in college and studying the subject. Did I get that?
This did offer a fairly good new view for me to the story I was pretty used to reading at this point. However, I found that the fact the author went with first-person POV ended up scrambling me while listening to the story more than it did getting me engaged. While I think it might allow others to connect better with the character by giving the feeling of the character talking to them, it just made me feel like I was being whined to as the story went along. I cared less and less about what the feelings of the character were the longer I listened to them, while also being more interested in the characters talking to the POV character. Due to the large cast of characters given, I think I would have liked it better myself if it were in third-person (any of them).
That aside, it was cool to go into the story where the focus was really on Dementer. You could very easily see all the places where, like the blurb states, the character’s gender was a large point in how they were treated and expected to act, and I’d say that particular point, along with the character’s psychology, are really what drove the story as a whole.
I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone not super interested in Greek mythology as a whole due to the very confusing change with the first-person perspectives, but if you’re into it and are familiar with the story of Persephone or Homer then I think you might enjoy seeing the way Agha-Jaffar takes the story on.
Thanks for reading!