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Likely Stories - Elektra, by Jennifer Saint

Another epic story of the ancient Greeks

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, and poetry.

Jennifer Saint studied classics at King’s College London. She spent the next thirteen years as an English teacher, sharing her love of literature and creative writing with her students. She is the internationally bestselling author of Elektra and her second book.

There are three main characters: Clytemnestra, Cassandra, and, Elektra. I will begin with Elektra. “Mycenae is silent, but I can’t sleep tonight. [ ] When I was born it was our father who named me. He named me for the sun: fiery and incandescent. He told me that when I was a little girl: that I was the light of our family. ‘Your aunt’s beauty is famed, but your far more radiant than here already. You’ll bring more glory to the house of Atreus, my daughter.’ And then he kissed me on my forehead before he set me down.” (1).

Clytemnestra is next. “The House of Atreus carried a curse. A particularly gruesome one, even by the standards of divine torment. The history of the family was full of brutal murder, adultery, monstrous ambition. [ ] Daughter of Zeus, that’s what the stories said of Helen. If Leda, our mother, had been deemed lovely by the rule of the gods himself, it was a great honor to our family. It was not a disgrace to our father to raise the product of such a union himself. // And Helen’s beauty was legendary indeed” (5-6).

Casandra is a curious member of the family. “Every word I speak is unwelcome. My throat is raw from the words that are torn from me when I touch someone. My prophecies rip out my insides, but still they come, unbidden, even as I quake at the consequences. My listeners curse me, they chase me away, they say I am mad, and they laugh. // But when I was a child, I could not tell the future. I was preoccupied only with the concerns of the now; My parents were Priam and Hecabe, king and queen of troy, and our luxuries were legendary” (15).

Clytemnestra. “While the Atreidae were gone, I was consumed with restlessness. The days, which had always been so easy to fill, now seemed to drag, especially the afternoons. // Penelope was gone already to the rocks and goats of Ithaca with Odysseus. But Hellen remained, and we had passed the previous sixteen years together companionably enough. I couldn’t see what had changed. I suppose it was the flurry of excitement there had been for a time: the arrival of the Atreidae at our shores to seek our hospitality, then the gathering of Hellen’s suitor, and of course, the weddings of both my cousin and my twin. Perhaps things were bond to feel a little flat after all was none” (22).

Electra by Jennifer Saint is another powerful story from ancient Greece. 6 Stars!

Likely Stories is a production of KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and happy reading!