The Elgin Marbles have been displayed in the British Museum for nearly 200 years, and for just as long they have been the center of a raging controversy. In Stealing Athena, Karen Essex chronicles the Marbles' amazing journey through the dynamic narratives of Mary Nisbet, wife of the Earl of Elgin, the British ambassador to Constantinople, and Aspasia, the mistress of Perikles, the most powerful man in Athens during that city's Golden Age.
At the height of the Napoleonic Wars, the 21-year-old, newlywed Countess of Elgin, a Scottish heiress and celebrated beauty, enchanted the power brokers of the Ottoman Empire, using her charms to obtain their permission for her husband's audacious plan to deconstruct the Parthenon and bring its magnificent sculptures to England. Two millennia earlier, Aspasia, a female philosopher and courtesan, and a central figure in Athenian life, plied her wits, allure, and influence with equal determination, standing with Perikles at the center of vehement opposition to his vision of building the most exquisite monuments the world had ever seen.
Rich in romance and intrigue, greed and glory, Stealing Athena is an enthralling work of historical fiction and a window into the intimate lives of some of history's most influential and fascinating women.
©2008 Karen Essex; (P)2008 Random House Audio
This audiobook is wonderfully written and very well read. I would recommend it to anyone, especially to women and to men who care about women. It shows how women have been abused in two eras.
The only difficulty I found was the accent and pace used for the part of the story set in ancient Greece. The accent is unnecessary, and the pace is too slow.
I have seen the Elgin marbles in the British Museum. For anyone who hasn't, I recommend a virtual viewing over the Internet. Their incredible power and virtuosity help one to understand the passion with which they were created and later acquired.
I really like Karen Essex - her Leonardo's Swans was very good read. I wanted to like this but it was so boring. I could not finish it which is rare for me as I always stick it out in hopes things will improve. I made it mostly through but it never got any better. Too much information, boring and the main character, Lady Elgin is unlikeable, self centered and boring. not good.
Based on the true story of Lord and Lady Elgin, who saved the Parthenon marbles from probable destruction during the Ottoman occupation, and transported them to England despite great costs and troubles. The story is intertwined with a story of the building of the Parthenon and the sculpting of the actual marbles. The two women starring in these two paraller tales are strong and independent, and fight hard to make it in a man's world. I think there's some possibilities here for a really good story, but the author's decision to stick to the real life story of Lady Elgin made it only an OK story that seems repetitive at the end. It was still pretty good and worth the read.
I enjoyed this audiobook, particularly the chapters on Mary Nisbet's story. I wish Aspasia's story had been a little better integrated and her character more fully realized. I am not sure that the narration did justice to the author. The tempo of the narration seemed artificially slow, almost tedious a good bit of the time. But despite this shortcoming, the audiobook brought pleasure. And, I think it is important to support books like this and authors who seem committed to telling women's stories.
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