“So,” said Nick, “Layer 7a was Homer’s Troy?”
Rebecca’s eyes lit up. “Don’t get me started.”
“Yes,” I urged. “Get her started. Please.”
by Anne Fortier tells a story of mythological Amazons, and the modern-day Oxford philologist investigating them.
The present-day storyline involves a struggling philologist, her archeologist friend, ancient inscriptions from exotic temples in distant lands, an heirloom from a beloved grandmother, priceless artifacts, and several sets of mysterious millionaires. (Did I mention that the archeologist is a legit girl friend, with her own hobbies and career and actual shared interests with the heroine? A real friendship between intellectual women in a page-turning adventure!) As the classicists investigate mysterious clues, the ancient storyline follows female priestesses on their travels through the pre-classical world.
The Lost Sisterhood blends modern-day academia and ancient myth, kind of like the best part of being a classics students, only with more international espionage that I found in my classes. Themes in classical scholarship, like the repatriation of ancient artifacts and Heinrich Schliemann’s destructive Troy digs, appear as plot points in the novel (but are explained perfectly clearly for rusty classicists and casual historians). Plus, it hits all my favorite mysteries, from Teutoburg forest to the gold of Troy.
The story presented a second version of the Amazons and the Trojan War, which a couple nods to competing theories before taking an entirely new path. I particularly liked seeing young Aeneas and Creusa, Hercules’ on break from his labours, and the mask of Agamemnon in the ancient storyline. Like the best historical fiction, The Lost Sisterhood used historical events and places creatively, without inventing anything too wild. (The ancients didn't have any marvelous technology that everyone mysteriously forgot to record, for example.)
Of course, every time Fortier wrote Oxford, I mentally changed it to Cambridge, but other than that, I’d give it five stars, A+, would stay up extremely late reading again.