Annabel Lyon crafts prose that has been nominated for a slew of awards and has earned her a reputation as a deft literary stylist. In Lyon’s novel The Golden Mean, a Scotia Giller Prize finalist, Aristotle narrates his time spent mentoring King Philip’s son, the boy who would become known for all of history as Alexander the Great. Fearful of the boy’s appetite for conquest, the great philosopher tries to impart in him the wisdom of choosing a middle path between extremes.
©2010 Annabel Lyon (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC
“Annabel Lyon’s Aristotle is the most fully realized historical character in contemporary fiction. The Golden Mean engenders in the reader the same helpless sensitivity to the ferocious beauty of the world that is Aristotle’s disease. In this alarmingly confident and transporting debut novel, Lyon offers us that rarest of treats: a book about philosophy, about the power of ideas, that chortles and sings like an earthy romance.” (2009 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize Jury)
I think those who already have some knowledge of Aristotle and Alexander the Great would get a lot from the book. I personally enjoyed it, but I would not recommend it to those who are new to the subject. Transitions are abrupt, and it's difficult to follow the story, a problem compounded by the narrator, who interprets the minimalist text with the same flat monotone for every character, whether a king or a female slave. There is a dearth of "he said" and "she said," so it is difficult to tell whose lines of dialogue are whose. If I were to recommend the book, it would have to be in the print form, I think.
Dry, dry, dry. Imagine plugging in your earphones and shoving a handful of saltines in your mouth. Yes, it's that dry. Poor character developement, boring storyline and a reader who uses the same voice and tone for every character. Do not buy this book!
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