Reviewed by Roz Masters Ex Libris Colm Tóibín’s most well known novels are Brooklyn, recently a television drama, and Nora Webster. In his 11th, House of Names, the author makes a genre change by retelling the legend which is the subject of tragedies by ancient Greek dramatists, Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles. Clytemnestra is deceived by her husband, Agamemnon, into believing that their daughter Iphigenia is to marry Achilles. On arrival in Aulis for the wedding, Clytemnestra finds that the gods are demanding that in return for giving his fleet a fair wind for Troy Agamemnon must sacrifice his daughter. The gods are otherwise absent from Tóibín’s version. Agamemnon is shown to be so desperate for the approval of his men that he will kill his daughter. Clytemnestra loses her faith in the gods as she witnesses the sacrifice. Clytemnestra describes the heartrending scene: “I could smell the blood of the animals as it began to sour and there were vultures in the sky so it was all death ... Iphigenia cried out ... the cry was that of a girl”. Clytemnestra is seized and buried alive for three days. We then move to the palace at Argos where Clytemnestra plots with her lover to murder the returning, victorious Agamemnon. Electra, Iphigenia’s sister, wants to murder Clytemnestra with whom she has always had a difficult relationship, her mother favouring Iphigenia She watches events quietly while her brother, Orestes, is sent into exile. In all the Greek tragedies, Orestes, still a young child, disappears after the sacrifice, reappearing years later. Tóibín fills in the story. Orestes lives in the House of Names, a derelict farm, with other boys before escaping to be reunited with his sister and avenge his father’s death. This is a beautifully constructed, dramatic thriller from an outstanding writer. Books Would you like to know what the stars have in store for you? Text or email Howard for more information or book a personal reading through his website: astroguidance.co.uk Follow Howard’s ‘Astro-guidance’ on Facebook for forecasts and discussion email: howpark@aol.com phone: 07866 727743 Thinking about care? We’ve won awards for it. At Sharnbrook House, your loved one will get excellent 24-hour care at a superb and friendly setting. Call us on 01234 781294 to arrange a visit. Sharnbrook House High Street, Sharnbrook, Beds MK44 1PB www.greensleeves.org.uk Greensleeves Homes Trust is a registered charity in England & Wales No. 1060478.