Monday, 23 March 2020

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Review: Great Goddesses by Nikita Gill

Great Goddesses by Nikita Gill

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Great Goddesses by Nikita Gill

Published: 5th September 2019 | Publisher: Ebury Press | Source: Bought
Nikita Gill on Instagram

Empowering life lessons from myths and monsters.

Wonder at Medusa's potent venom, Circe's fierce sorcery and Athena rising up over Olympus, as Nikita Gill majestically explores the untold stories of the life bringers, warriors, creators, survivors and destroyers that shook the world - the great Greek Goddesses.

Vividly re-imagined and beautifully illustrated, step into an ancient world transformed by modern feminist magic.

'I watch Girl become Goddess
and the metamorphosis is more
magnificent than anything
I have ever known.'
From Goodreads.

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Goodreads

Having read and loved Nikita Gill's other collection of retellings, Fierce Fairy Tales, and the feminism that runs throughout, I had to get her retellings of Greek myths, Great Goddesses - and I adored it!

In some ways, Great Goddesses is quite different to Fierce Fairy Tales, in that the fairy tales weren't just retellings, but also commentary on our society and encouragement to empower women today. While Great Goddesses is still very feminist, there was more of a focus on these very specific stories, written with sympathy and understanding, in a sense sharing the stories of these women with us, so we don't forget what they went through and experienced. Even though she may not relate these stories to our lives today, Gill still writes them in a way that there are lessons to learn, anger to be felt, and that some injustices are as old as time.

But what Gill also does, which I really liked, was she twists some of the stories to make them empowering, where the actual story is pretty awful. For example, the story of Medusa; in some classical versions, she was a maiden in Athena's temple raped by Poseidon in the temple, and Athena was so enraged, she transformed her into the Gorgan and monster we know. However, in Great Goddesses, Athena's transformation of Medusa is actually a gift given in sorrow. Medusa is now her own weapon. No-one will hurt Medusa like that again. In fact, men will now instead fear her. I just found it to be so beautiful and moving, a much preferable version than Athena blaming and punishing Medusa for what she had no control of. And in the same vein, most of the goddesses are more sympathetic. Hera, for example, actually learns; she lets go of her jealous rage, and actually helps those who have been hurt by rapist of a husband, and others.

Which leads to another aspect of Great Goddesses which I just thought was incredible. Lets say these immortal gods and goddesses actually exist - what would they be doing now, today, in our world, a world that no longer believes in them? Gill answers this question for a fair number of the gods and goddesses. Some, like Hera, who becomes a founder for a shelter for victims of domestic violence, and Aphrodite, who starts up an online dating agency with Eros, learn to adapt and thrive in our world. Others, those who have hurt, get their just desserts.

I've always had an interest in the Greek myths, because of the amazing paintings of them, but I've also felt quite overwhelmed by the sheer number of them, that I've actually never read a proper book on Greek myths. But with her poetic retellings, Gill makes these stories accessible, and she's not only made me fall in love with some of the characters, she's reignited my interest to the point that I've now decided to give the myths an in depth read, finally. With Greek Goddesses, Gill has become one of my firm favourite poets, and I'll now read anything she writes. I've already bought Wild Embers, and will be picking up her other books, too.

If you love feminist poetry, or retellings - or both! - you absolutely have to give Great Goddesses a read. It's incredible!

You might also like:

Fierce Fairy Tales by Nikita Gill Tangleweed & Brine by Deirdre Sullivan The Witch Doesn't Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace

Over to you graphic

Have you read any poetry books that retell other stories? Are there any retellings of Greek myths that you love? Have you read, or will you read, Great Goddesses? Let me know in the comments!

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