Mieza Book Club: Orestes: The Young Lion (Chapters 1 – 5)

For previous Mieza Book Club minutes click here

the_young_lion
Orestes: The Young Lion
by Laura Gill
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Chapters One to Five
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At 7pm sharp, the meeting was called to order by club president Seleucus. Members were asked if they had copies of Orestes: The Young Lion. Amyntas of Pella and Amyntas of Aegae didn’t, so were voted by a show of hands to be tonight’s designated drivers. Amyntas of Pella sulked.
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It is traditional for the club president to give a short biographical account of the author before discussion of their book begins. “Unfortunately,” he said, standing up, “I know rather sod all about Miss Gill. She maybe a Mrs or even a Ms as she is American but who knows?”. Seleucus asked for the words ‘sod all’ to be replaced by ‘very little’ in the minutes but this request was shouted down.
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In lieu of any known facts (other than those presented at the back of the book) about the author, Seleucus gave way to Meleager who exercised his right as the chooser of the book to explain his reasons for doing so. “I have always been fascinated by the story of Orestes,” he said, “Or rather, Orestes in relation to his big sister, Elektra. It probably comes from having a big sister myself – one who wasn’t afraid to put me in my place when need be.” he added, rubbing his arm, meaningfully. Murmurs of sympathy went round the room, and several pipes were lit.
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Meleager sat down and the floor was declared open.
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Leonnatus “I liked the tension between Clytaemnestra and Agamemnon at the beginning very much. Knowing what happens between them (Lysimachus shouted ‘No spoilers!’ but was being ironic) later it gave the opening scene a very threatening air that is only increased in the next few chapters every time either Clytaemnestra or Aegisthus appear on the page.”
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A brief discussion on Gill’s protrayal of Clytaemnestra and Aegisthus followed and it was agreed that she makes very good use of the limited space that she gives herself at the start of the book (22 pages cover the first five chapters). When the discussion began to degenerate into an analysis of ancient Greek sexual mores, Seleucus called the meeting to order.
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Alexander of Epirus “I thought the ‘flute boy’ reference on the first page was funny as that is a euphemism for blow job.”
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Seleucus “Enough sex! I would like to say something about Iphigenia. My goodness, one minute she is there, and the next – dead! That was a horrible scene. So sudden.”
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Polemon “Dear boy, are you saying you would have preferred her death to have been written in greater detail?”
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Seleucus “Not at all; in fact, given how suddenly death can come upon us, I thought Gill pitched Iphigenia’s demise perfectly and in a sense most realistically. I tell you, though, it took me no few minutes to get to sleep on the evening I read it. Say what you want about the Coalition Government, at least they don’t have child sacrifices when it is not windy.”
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An unknown member then muttered he wouldn’t put it past the Government to announce such a thing as part of its austerity measures (“Fewer children, more money for the rest of us”). Red Amyntas demanded that this be put to a vote and the motion ‘We believe that David Cameron would sacrifice children to repair the British economy’ was passed by a majority vote. It is believed* (*hoped) that all members except Red Amyntas voted ironically or at least under the influence of wine.
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Theban Al “To go back to the business of Iphigenia, I must say I was very affected by the ‘appearance’ of the ghostly children. I thought Gill wrote that scene wonderfully well. It rather reminded me of Turn of the Screw. God, that book scared me. Especially since I read it when we lived in a vicarage which I am sure was haunted on the top floor.”
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Perdiccas “A haunted vicarage? I bet your father could not have been pleased by that. Rather damaging to the old theology, hm?”
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Theban Al “Oh well, of course, as far as he was concerned it wasn’t. He thought the scratching was probably rats.”
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Amyntas of Philippi “I agree with Theban Al. It was a wonderfully scary scene. What really made it work, though, was the way Timon told Orestes about it. His reluctance to do so and the tension of the scene really sucked me in; I completely felt like I was there with them. A great scene.”
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Perdiccas “Perhaps you and Theban Al were the ghostly children playing!”
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Perdiccas’ comment received much laughter, and he was declared a good show by all-and-sundry. The wine carafe was passed round the room and several pipes were relit.
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Harpalus “What I really want to know is – are the gods going to turn up later on? I really, really want them, to do so! Artemis is referred to in a way that suggests she is real but we don’t see the Olympians at the beginning. I need for this book to extinguish the memory of Troy in my mind.
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Harpalus was immediately called up on his use of the phrase ‘need for’; he agreed that it was a reprehensible Americanism and apologised before a vote could be taken to make him the next meeting’s designated driver. The meeting continued.
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Theban Al “The one thing I wasn’t sure about was the way in which the narrator spells the characters’ names one way, but when Orestes writes them down we see them written according to – I assume – how the Mycenaeans wrote them. For instance, Orestes became O-re-ta. That created a disconnection between the narrator’s voice and the voice of the character for me.”
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Seleucus “I rather liked that. For me it was a good piece of verisimilitude. On the matter of words, the only discordant note for me was when Elektra refers to Aegisthus’ ‘oily’ smile. While it is certainly an evocative word, it isn’t one that she would have used as the Mycenaeans didn’t know what oil was – or did they?”
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This question was put to the Club and no one knew so the meeting continued. It was then discovered that the word ‘oily’ appears in Chapter Six so we should not have even been talking about it.
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Harpalus “I should like to nominate word of the night ‘ostrakon’. It appears in chapter five. An ostrakon was a portsherd that the Greeks used to vote with. It’s one of those words that you see for the first time and it is like an old friend meeting you.”
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Amyntas of Pella “It sounds more like a heavy metal band to me.”
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Theban Al “Scene of the night – definitely Timon telling Orestes about the ghostly children. Narrowly beating the tale of how Atreus fed Thyestes’ children to him.”
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Peucestas “Did you ever watch Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Café?
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Amyntas of Pella “DON’T read Medea!”
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Votes were taken on the Word and Scene of the Night and passed, as above. The formal discussion ended and the informal discussion (unminuted) began.
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Peucestas
(Club Secretary)

  • Read the introduction to the Mieza Book Club here
  • Orestes is available to buy in various formats, including here at Amazon
  • If you know of a book that the Mieza Book Club should review do let us know in the comments box
Categories: The Mieza Book Club | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Mieza Book Club: Orestes: The Young Lion (Chapters 1 – 5)

  1. Laura Gill

    What a wonderful surprise! Now I have to RT this to all of Orestes’ followers. (Oh, and it’s Ms.)

    Laura Gill

    Like

  2. Kizzykat

    Olive oil – greased up athletes.

    Did you do The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller?

    Like

  3. Sheri

    Loved this! Can’t wait to read more 🙂

    Like

  4. Caroline

    I’m going to be a self-promoting author here and suggest my own historical novel 😛
    Loved your post, btw 🙂
    Hugs&Lattes

    Like

  5. Laura, Thank you for your reply. I make no apology for the work that the MBC has given you 🙂 Oh, and I shall pass your clarification onto ‘Peucestas’!

    Kizzycat, I am not sure I understand your olive oil reference. Perhaps you could clarify?

    Sheri, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    Caroline, Please feel free to mention your novel’s name. Lattes? This page is dedicated to Alexander. It’s wine or nothing here.

    AOS

    Like

    • Kizzykat

      Apologies for posting twice – I wasn’t logged in. perhaps you could delete one?

      I was referring to Seleucus’ comment about Aegisthus’ oily smile. The Myceneans certainly had oil – olive oil and fish oil at least – but not petroleum oil. Olive oil was used for lamp lighting, cooking and for annointing the body, especially the bodies of athletes. So, the expression could refer to a greasy smile. However, I think it refers to the use of Macassar oil on the hair and moustaches of gentlemen in the 19th century and its association with flash young men and music-hall villians. This oil gave rise to the use of anti-macassars – those lace-fringed oblongs of white linen on the backs of armchairs and sofas. Therefore, Seleucus is probably right and ‘oily smile’ is an anatopism.

      Like

  6. Caroline

    Mystique. It’s soon to be released and I’m looking to get it noticed. Also Mycenaean culture, featuring the Atreides, but from Klytemnestra’s perspective!
    Duly noted. Hugs and lots of wine then 🙂

    Like

  7. Kizzykat, Not a problem – I’ve deleted one. Thank you for the clarification; I understand you now. Your answer makes perfect sense. I shall pass the information on.

    Caroline, Thank you. Do let us know when it has been published. Maybe the MBC will be interested in discussing it. Thank you for the hugs (I give you mine in return) and the wine [I would offer you some of it but I appear to have drunk it all already ;-)]

    AOS

    Like

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