Author: Ursula K. LeGuin
Release Date: April 21, 2008
Publisher: Mariner Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
Aeneas’ second wife, Lavinia, is barely mentioned in Virgil’s epic poem. In this book, Ursula K. Le Guin seeks to correct that oversight and give a voice to a woman all but forgotten by history. Lavinia is the daughter of King Latinus, the ruler of Lavinium in present-day Italy. Many men fight for the hand of the king’s only child, but Lavinia is not taken with any of her suitors. Her decision to reject these men will have lasting and tragic repercussions.
I enjoyed Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series, so when I heard she had a new book coming out, I immediately knew I wanted to read it. Clearly it took me awhile to get it it, but I’m glad I eventually picked this book up, rather than letting it languish on the shelf for another couple of years.
Lavinia is a well-written and intriguing character. Le Guin doesn’t have much to go on from the original story, so she uses her imagination to fill in the blanks. Lavinia is strong willed, yet manages to rise above what she wants often enough to where the reader can’t really call her stubborn. She loves her home and has strong friendships with many of her people. In short, she’s an appealing character who readers will enjoy getting to know.
The historical detail in Lavinia is really astounding. Le Guin takes the reader through this land, painting a clear picture of what life was like. Certainly the history might not be accurate – after all, Le Guin is drawing directly from Virgil – but it doesn’t really matter. Le Guin painstakingly relays each event with such care that the reader is immersed in this intricate world.
Lavinia was a creative and engrossing story that I really enjoyed. It’s an easy read, but one filled with rich historical detail and engaging characters. I recommend this book to anyone interested in The Aeneid, or any general historical fiction fans.