Saturday 7 November 2015

Review ~ The Last of the Wine by Mary Renault

(VMC 640)
August 2015

Ancient Greek history has never been something that I have felt comfortable with, due, I suppose to my education in this area of history being sorely lacking. My high school wasn't the sort of place where the classics sat comfortably, so perhaps the fault is that I never grew to understand the pull of ancient mythology at an age where I might have soaked up it with rather more interest.

So, when offered the chance to read this reissued book by Mary Renault, originally published in 1956, I started with an open mind, after all the introduction to the novel, tells me that Mary is an exceptional story-teller, and to some extent I would agree with that statement,  she certainly does have the ability to weave a tale around the ancient world. She paints her characters with a yearning passion and her vivacity for the world she recreates, is evident in the way she controls the story. She doesn't shy away from portraying the intricacies and subtle nuances of history and graciously allows her characters enough space to tell their own story.

I'm not going to lie and say that I found this book riveting, because I didn't. In fact, in places it was hard going, but by the end of the novel, and I have to admit that I skim read my way through a lot of it, my opinion remains that classical history is something I still find really difficult to totally enjoy.

And yet,undoubtedly there are readers who love Mary Renault's books and I am sure that they will be delighted that they are being reissued as modern classics by Virago. 

Best read with copious cups of strong tea and an entire packet of chocolate hobnobs.

Mary Renault

My thanks to the Curtis Brown Book Club and Virago for the opportunity to read and discuss this novel.


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