IS THE Literary Review trying to test me? A year or so ago I was sent a novel to review which was a modern-day reworking of The Odyssey, set in Notting Hill. About three quarters of the way through it finally sank in that the hero was an explorer, his wife, who stayed waiting at home, was called Penny. .. As my classical education isn't all it might be, this was a huge relief. I'd got the joke, as it were. I felt the same profound thankfulness when the penny (not the same one) dropped during Amanda Craig's Love in Idleness. It's an updated version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, set in Blair's Tuscany.
My Shakespeare's better than my Homer, so once I got it, I was away. Polly and Theo Noble, the rich couple who hire a posh villa and then invite all their friends to stay, are, of course, noble Theseus and Hippolyta, whose marriage is the catalyst for the MND action. Yet Polly is a gentle sort, whereas one imagines Shakespeare's Queen of the Amazons as a fiery (and possibly one-breasted) type, cedy not given, as Polly is, to rustling up meals non-stop and collecting everyone's laundry. Not