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Alcestis

Narrated by: Diane Havens
Length: 10 hrs and 35 mins
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Summary

In Greek myth, Alcestis is known as the ideal good wife; she loved her husband so much that she died to save his life and was sent to the underworld in his place. In this poetic and vividly-imagined debut, Katharine Beutner gives voice to the woman behind the ideal, bringing to life the world of Mycenaean Greece, a world peopled by capricious gods, where royal women are confined to the palace grounds and passed as possessions from father to husband. Alcestis tells of a childhood spent with her sisters in the bedchamber where her mother died giving birth to her and of her marriage at the age of 15 to Admetus, the young king of Pherae, a man she barely knows, who is kind but whose heart belongs to a god. She also tells the part of the story that's never been told: What happened to Alcestis in the three days she spent in the underworld before being rescued by Heracles? In the realm of the dead, Alcestis falls in love with the goddess Persephone and discovers the true horror and beauty of death.

©2010 Katharine Beutner (P)2011 Iambik Audio Inc.

Critic reviews

"Beutner renders her multilayered heroine with beauty and delicacy, and concerns herself with no less than the intricacies of the soul…"( Publishers Weekly)
"Beutner has elevated a relatively minor character in Greek mythology to a major player…In this reworking of the classic legend, a decidedly more complex and restless Alcestis is provided with an intriguing backstory involving her childhood and the untimely death of her favorite sister, Hippothoe…Beutner spices up this classic tale with a decidedly Sapphic flavor." ( Booklist)
“Powerful, despairing … Beutner has taken loss and sadness, sharpened them, and shaped them into a tale at once profound and daring in what it refuses to give its readers. This is the dawn of an extremely promising career.” ( Open Letters Monthly)

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Profile Image for Kim
  • Kim
  • 13-02-14

Boring Narration

Would you be willing to try another one of Diane Havens’s performances?

I don't think I'd try another of Havens' performances. I didn't feel there were enough pauses to signify a new sentence, thought, etc. I also thought the addition of "end of chapter _" to be redundant. Obviously when a new chapter begins, the other would end.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for depassagem
  • depassagem
  • 29-04-19

A failed attempt to give life to a minor myth

There are plenty of authors trying to give female characters in Greek myths their deserved attention. Until recently, just a few of mortal women had been given any attention and even goddesses sometimes are mere pawns in a much more complicated plot. Sadly, just a few authors have succeeded in this - and that is not the case of Katherine Beutner. Her attempt to give more depth to Alcestis, the mortal, and Persephone, the goddess, fails miserably due to a number of reasons - some solely related to the audiobook.

Alcestis is a ghost even before she goes to the underworld: she is so dull and lacks any goal that it is hard to care about her. While other women around her are doing their best (or worst) to get something, the main character is simply observing. The first time she decides she wants something, she sits and waits. When the second time comes, the plot holes are just too many to have been forgiven and you are already wishing she never existed in the first place to even care about what she wants. Perhaps there is a reason that Alcestis was such an obscure character. Or perhaps Katharine Beutner just wasn't the right person to bring her to light, despite some very good and original ideas that sadly just get lost in the mix.

As for the performance: Diane Havens probably could have done better with a different material and different director. It is simply embarrassing to listen to her trying to emulate male voices (specially Hades'). More than embarrassing, it is unnecessary: Alcestis is the narrator and as such, she would reproduce male lines with her own voice. She is not a stand-up comedian, after all.

Also: is it really necessary to announce the end of the chapter? "End of chapter 1"? I'm pretty sure listeners would understand that once "Chapter 2" came along...