Ursula K. Le Guin is the author of short stories, essays, volumes of poetry, books for children, and many novels. She has won the National Book Award, five Hugo and Nebula Awards, a Pushcart Prize, and the Howard Vursell Award of American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her new novel, Lavinia, is set in a time when Rome, located near the seven hills, is only a tiny village of little consequence.
Lavinia walks out of Vergil’s epic poem The Aeneid, where she had been a silent character. Le Guin breathes life into Lavinia by creating her world and truly epic story, a tale that is both about love on many levels and war in all its reality. Le Guin manages to capture a mother/daughter relationship that could translate into modern day newspaper article. The author showers this ancient character with a unique voice, in which Lavinia speaks to the spirit of the poet, setting the whole tone of the novel.
I am not a reader of fantasy, but I found the story captivating. This novel is strong and rich in detail and will entice any reader. The images are vivid and the Roman myth of Latrius and Amata, Lavinia’s parents, comes alive in Le Guin’s own way of expanding the story with her imagination. Le Guin’s language is like music, poetry formed into a novel.
“And yet my part of them, the life he gave me in his poem, is so dull, except for the one moment when my hair catches fire—so colorless, except when my maiden cheeks blush like ivory stained with crimson dye—so conventional, I can’t bear it any longer. If I must go on existing century after century, then once at least I must break out and speak.”
Le Guin’s beautiful alternative world made me a fan. I strongly suggest this book to readers of different genres. If you’re not a fantasy reader, come on step out of your box and try this wonderful book. You won’t be sorry.