Elspeth Barker

The Little Owl

Lavinia

By

Gollancz 295pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Virgil’s women are fabulous, both literally and colloquially. Throughout the Aeneid, they bring about confusion, high drama, tenderness and tragedy, a shining counterpoint and interruption to the background of war and travail, past, present and to come, and the immutable forces of destiny which of course engulf them too, struggle as they may to thwart them. In the earlier books we encounter Venus, on one occasion clad in high scarlet leather boots, ghostly Creusa, and towering, tragic Dido; later come the enchantress Circe, Camilla the warrior princess, so fleet of foot that she can pass through a cornfield and not disturb a single blade, assorted Nereids, nurses, mothers, and female personifications of vileness. And in that throng someone scarcely visible, Lavinia, in the words of the great Gilbert Highet, ‘a quiet, dutiful, passive little girl’. 

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Jeremy Clarke on Red and White: An Unquenchable Thirst for Wine by ,
    • 'Englishmen Abroad in the Reign of Henry VIII'. Free lecture by Dr Susan Brigden, Thurs 18 Oct, 6.30pm Europe Hou… ,
    • It 'contains twists and near misses and bit-part players, everything you might expect from a true-crime story'. Ian… ,
    • Oh normally a week or two before the ceremony itself - so mid-November. ,
    • Ian Sansom reviews The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World by… ,
    • 'It is hard to think of an economist who could craft such an elegantly readable account of postwar failure as this.… ,
    • Frederick Forsyth reviews The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War by ,