Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin

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Synopsis

In a richly imagined, beautiful novel, an acclaimed writer gives an epic heroine her voice.

In The Aeneid, Vergil’s hero fights to claim the king’s daughter, Lavinia, with whom he is destined to found an empire. Lavinia herself never speaks a word. Now, Ursula K. Le Guin gives Lavinia a voice in a novel that takes us to the half-wild world of ancient Italy, when Rome was a muddy village near seven hills.

Lavinia grows up knowing nothing but peace and freedom, until suitors come. Her mother wants her to marry handsome, ambitious Turnus. But omens and prophecies spoken by the sacred springs say she must marry a foreigner—that she will be the cause of a bitter war—and that her husband will not live long. When a fleet of Trojan ships sails up the Tiber, Lavinia decides to take her destiny into her own hands. And so she tells us what Vergil did not: the story of her life, and of the love of her life.

Lavinia is a book of passion and war, generous and austerely beautiful, from a writer working at the height of her powers.
 

About Ursula K. Le Guin

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Ursula K. Le Guin was born in Berkeley, California, in 1929. Among her honors are a National Book Award, five Hugo and five Nebula Awards, the Kafka Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Portland, Oregon. www.ursulakleguin.com
 
Published April 21, 2008 by Mariner Books. 293 pages
Genres: History, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Lavinia

Kirkus Reviews

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Le Guin (Powers, 2007, etc.) departs from her award-winning fantasy and science-fiction novels to amplify a story told only glancingly in Virgil’s epic The Aeneid.

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The Guardian

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In a famous 1973 lecture, "Why are Americans Afraid of Dragons?", Ursula Le Guin addressed an issue which she found puzzling and - the tone of the piece suggests - just a little irksome: why is it that some readers shy away from fantastical writing?

Jun 14 2009 | Read Full Review of Lavinia

The Guardian

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But it is very much to Le Guin's credit that her Lavinia never strikes a false note.

May 23 2009 | Read Full Review of Lavinia

AV Club

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Two master authors collaborate over thousands of years.

May 21 2008 | Read Full Review of Lavinia

Entertainment Weekly

B+ Originally posted Apr 18, 2008 Published in issue #988-989 Apr 25, 2008 Order article reprints

Apr 18 2008 | Read Full Review of Lavinia

The Telegraph

If you already know your Virgil, you may find Le Guin sending you back for a fresh look.

Jun 21 2009 | Read Full Review of Lavinia

Review (Barnes & Noble)

And cramming some fifty years of living into the compass of three hundred pages necessitates a few rushed, compressed sections where Lavinia is made to dump a mass of condensed information on the reader.

Apr 21 2008 | Read Full Review of Lavinia

Teen Reads

Further, Lavinia and Aeneas’s passionate love is poignantly evoked (for Lavinia has been told by her ghostly poet that they will have but three years together, and she counts off the seasons with a sense of dread), and Aeneas’s character is a serious portrait of a true hero: modest, thoughtful, n...

Dec 30 2010 | Read Full Review of Lavinia

Historical Novel Society

In the poem, the character of Lavinia is minor and voiceless, while here she is the narrator of her life and the events surrounding her.

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Historical Novel Society

So we follow Lavinia as the threads are woven together: Lavinia’s growing up, her home and family, Virgil’s bloody battles and deaths, the sweet years of marriage, and then the struggles to see the son Lavinia bore Aeneas become the man his father would have wanted.

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The American Book Center Blog

As such, this is a story that works on multiple levels, making this a book that should appeal to a wide variety of readers.

Apr 06 2009 | Read Full Review of Lavinia

Boomtron

Location: Tennessee I'm going to be reviewing this book (and Jo Graham's Black Ships) in about 2-3 weeks and it's nice to see I wasn't the only one who appreciated how much Le Guin intertwined the Poet into a version of his most famous tale.

May 30 2008 | Read Full Review of Lavinia

Boomtron

Le Guin adopts a believable and intimate tone with which Lavinia weaves back and forth from the distant past to her present, from her adolescence to marriage and motherhood, and back again, carried between times by common feelings brought about during pivotal events in her life.

May 30 2008 | Read Full Review of Lavinia

Strange Horizons

She gives us "Le Guin's Virgil's Iliad" in the first half of her novel, followed by "Le Guin's Livy's Ab Urbe Condita" in the second.

Jan 07 2009 | Read Full Review of Lavinia

Reader Rating for Lavinia
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