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Lavinia Hardcover – Apr 10 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt; 1 edition (April 10 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151014248
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151014248
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.6 x 2.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #746,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In the Aeneid, the only notable lines Virgil devotes to Aeneas' second wife, Lavinia, concern an omen: the day before Aeneus lands in Latinum, Lavinia's hair is veiled by a ghost fire, presaging war. Le Guin's masterful novel gives a voice to Lavinia, the daughter of King Latinus and Queen Amata, who rule Latinum in the era before the founding of Rome. Amata lost her sons to a childhood sickness and has since become slightly mad. She is fixated on marrying Lavinia to Amata's nephew, Turnus, the king of neighboring Rutuli. It's a good match, and Turnus is handsome, but Lavinia is reluctant. Following the words of an oracle, King Latinus announces that Lavinia will marry Aeneas, a newly landed stranger from Troy; the news provokes Amata, the farmers of Latinum, and Turnus, who starts a civil war. Le Guin is famous for creating alternative worlds (as in Left Hand of Darkness), and she approaches Lavinia's world, from which Western civilization took its course, as unique and strange as any fantasy. It's a novel that deserves to be ranked with Robert Graves's I, Claudius. (Apr.)
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Review

PRAISE FOR URSULA K. LE GUIN

"She never loses touch with her reverence for the immense what is."—Margaret Atwood

"Like all great writers of fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin creates imaginary worlds that restore us, hearts eased, to our own."—Boston Globe

'There is no writer with an imagination as forceful and delicate as Le Guin's."—Grace Paley


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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews

By CanadianMother TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 8 2009
Format: Hardcover
I was not sure what to expect from Lavinia. When I started reading it, I admit I found it difficult to get in to, and I also found it strange that the character of Lavinia *knows* she is a character in a poem, rather than a real person. (This sounds bizarre I know, but Le Guin manages to pull this idea off, and brilliantly.)

But although it started off slowly for me, in the end, I was deeply impressed by the book. It moved me, it intrigued me, and furthermore, the ending is truly one of most magnificent I have ever read. It is perfect, and it left me absolutely in tears because it was so beautiful and sad. (Yes, this is ultimately a sad book, but haunting and beautiful as well.)

I also found it fascinating to see this glimpse--albeit one from Le Guin's imagination, not necessarily from history--of how the people living in Italy prior to Rome's founding may have lived. This is not a time in history that you hear much about, because simply, not much is known about it. Le Guin created her own semi-mythological version of ancient Italy based mostly on Virgil's epic poem. She states in her afterword that the people of that time and place likely were not as sophisticated and advanced as she portrayed them, but that's all right. I like her version of ancient Italy, especially the religion, and I enjoyed spending time there.

Lavinia will be one of my most memorable reads of 2009. I highly recommend it to Le Guin fans, to anyone interested in ancient Roman history, or to admirers of Virgil.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By SoMisguided.com on April 21 2008
Format: Hardcover
Ursula Le Guin is one of those writers who I'll read any day. In this novel, I was hoping for more of the mysticism that's present in her YA series, but this is historical fiction at its best.

Lavinia is the King's daughter who Aeneas fights to claim in Vergil's The Aeneid. Le Guin brings her alive.

Great book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For a good understanding of this book I went on Wikipedia to re-acquaint myself with what I had studied in Greek myth in my university days. This is very interesting reading Lavinia, a character in the poem telling us her side of the story. I liked that the women at that time BC were so strong and would not be bullied around by men. Very relevant to the women's lib movement. When you look at the roles the female characters play in this book it is very relevant for out times. Consider the class distinctions at the time this was written ~ women were not afraid to say or do what was important to them.
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By Emma Leer on Oct. 7 2009
Format: Paperback
Ursula LeGuin bettered my writing through her inspiring book "Steering the Craft". Lavinia is the first of her novels that I read. Now I want to read everything she wrote, just for the pleasure of hearing her words, her thoughts, her voice. In Lavinia, she has made a story from the mythology sound contemporaneous. Her strong female protagonist tells her story as if it were happening now. She succeeds in creating intimacy with the readers. Emotions can be felt. The writing is so clean, I wonder which words could be taken out. I wish to write like this one day.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Lewis on July 23 2008
Format: Hardcover
I was disappointed with this book even though I've read Vergil and love classical history. This story is so insipid I almost put it down. I finished it and would call it Le Guin's worst work. I have come to expect so much more from her. It was a very intriguing character to write about (hence the extra star) but failed for me to be a gripping story. I found I could care less about any of the characters who were all so predictable.

Yes, I'd call it a historical romance, too and file it under chick lit (which I don't read by the way despite being a "chick").
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