THE COURTESAN’S DAUGHTER by Priscilla Galloway

THE COURTESAN’S DAUGHTER

Age Range: 14 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

This complicated and absorbing narrative, set in ancient Athens about 350 b.c.e., is told in the first person by 14-year-old Phano. Her stepmother Nera, once a courtesan, is married to Stephanos her father, but Phrynion, who had Nera once, wants her again. This convoluted dance of desire and possession—and treachery, for Phrynion is an evil man—is seen through Phano’s eyes, even as she herself is married to a man she loves, Theo, and he rises in the Athenian hierarchy to be an archon and basileus, king of the nine archons. Basing her tale on an ancient fragment of a prosecutor’s speech before an Athenian jury, Galloway (Snake Dreamer, 1998, etc.) weaves myriad details into Phano’s story as skillfully as Phano spins wool. The daily activity, food, and drink of Athens, the precarious position of women, even those not slaves, and the political situation of the city with Philip of Macedon threatening it are all a part of the intricate design. Readers will be caught by Phano’s casual attitude toward slavery, as well as her growing understanding of how Nera has used her body and her wiles to keep Phano safe and well. The recounting of sacred Greek feasts and rituals, a key one of which, the anthesteria, holds a pivotal role for Phano as wife of the basileus, is fascinating. Richly rewarding. (Historical fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 2002
ISBN: 0-385-72907-3
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2002




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