I chose this book because I am going to Greece, and this book was about a girl who lived in ancient Greece. The Girl from Ithaca is a historical fiction story about the sister of Odysseus and the war against Troy to get Helen, considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world back then. The war took place approximately between the twelfth to the eleventh century B.C.
This book mainly takes place on the beaches of Troy, over four years. The theme was home is where the heat is. I think this because the main character always thought of her home in Ithaca, which was so far away from the battle field in Troy. The story starts when the fourteen year-old protagonist, Neomene, sister of the Great Odysseus spots the ship of the King of Sparta, Menelaus. He has come to recruit Odysseus and the men of Ithaca to fight against Troy to get his wife back. His brother, Agamemnon, king of Mycenae has been waiting for an excuse to start a war against Troy, and the kidnapping of his sister in-law was the perfect excuse. When Menelaus arrives, Neomene quickly warns her brother. He has come up with a brilliant plan to fool Menelaus into thinking that he has gone mad. He dressed himself up like a peasant, and started plowing the sand. Menelaus thought him crazy, but the prince Palamedes, and evil guy that came with Menelaus doesn’t buy into it and to prove his theory, he places Odysseus’ young child Telemachus in front of his plow. Odysseus immediatly stops and picks his son up. He was out witted, and now he has to go to the island of Aulis along with his men and Menelaus and Palamedes. Neomene then receives a message that she is to go to Mycenae to help Agamemnon’s daughter, Iphigenia get married to Achilles. Neomene agrees and sails to Mycenae. She meets Iphigenia, who is two years younger than her. Together with some of Iphigenia’s servants they sail to the island where Odysseus is so that she can get married. But they were tricked by Iphigenia’s cruel father and Palamedes. It wasn’t a marriage, it was a sacrifice. Agamemnon sacrificed his own daughter to Artimas so that they can sail to Troy because the winds were not favorable. The other servants go back to Mycenae to tell the news to Iphigenia’s mother. Agamenmon noticed one of the servants named Io. She and Neomene become great friends. Neomene overheard her brother and Menelaus talking about going to Troy without the knowledge of Agamemnon to rescue Helen. She wants to go with them because she feels like she owes Iphigenia. When they arrive in Troy, they have to convince King Priam, Prince Paris, who is the one who stole Helen, and his two brothers. Odysseus is losing the argument, then Neomene finds Helen and is shocked to hear that she married Paris willingly, and that she did not want to go back to Sparta with Menelaus. The threesome finally lose the argument and leave in defeat. Bringing Helen back was the only way that they could have avoided war, but it was too late now, Agamemnon had arrived in Troy with the Greek army. They build up camp. A season passes and the day of the big battle has arrived. The Greeks win, but there are many dead and wounded. After recovering, the Greeks have a war meeting. Agamemnon is proposing that the impatient Achilles raid Troy’s allies. Their plan is to starve them into submission. From his raids, Achilles brings back gold, food, jewels, and women. On one of his raids, he brought back four women. All but an older one were taken. Neomene did not want her to get killed so she says Odysseus would take her. He is skeptical at first, but when she makes him his first meal, he decides to keep her. Her name was Elissa, she was a cook in one of the city palaces, and she becomes Neomene’s servant and good friend. A year has passed. The cities are continuing to be raided. But Troy has a new hope. The Amazons have arrived. They are fierce women warriors who fight as well as men. There is another battle between The Greeks, the Amazons, and Troy. The Greek army wins again, but the dead are in the thousands. Three years later, Achilles has still not broken into Troy, though he has tried. One day, Odysseus gets severely injured close to death. Neomene has heard of a nymph that lives on a mountain not far away that has healing properties. She asks her to give her the remedy to save her brother and the nymph agrees. Neomene gives Odysseus the medicine and he recovers. Neomene falls in love with a young prince called Antilochus. They love each other very much and Neomene wants to live with him after the war is over. But, sadly, he was killed in a big battle. He saved his aging father’s life by sacrificing his own. The story ends with Neomene grief-stricken and jumping into the ocean.
I liked this story a lot, though some parts were confusing and complicated to me and the different characters with their long names were too. Though I found it neat that Sherry Gregory made all of these myths like Odysseus seem like actual people with different personalities. I would not necessarily recommend this book to all of my friends, some of them don’t read Greek mythology, and it might be a little confusing and to them. But I cannot wait to read the sequel. I want to know what happens to Neomene and the rest of the army. In some parts of the story, I was on the edge of my seat, wondering what was going to happen next. Though I was sad when Neomene finds out that Antilochus was killed. From this book, I learned that women had had little power, and were often slaves. Moreover, all of this made The Girl from Ithaca a great book that I would happily read again in the future.