Odyssey of an Etruscan Noblewoman
With a confident tone and sense of historical context, Burgundy takes us back to the sixth century BCE into an era populated with Greeks, Etruscans, Egyptians, and Romans. Larthia, the protagonist, is unwillingly taken on a breathtaking journey from her opening role as childless wife passing as a male scribe, through to her initiation as a priestess in the cult of Isis, and finally makes her way back home. She arrives home (having been driven and sustained by her desire for a return to normalcy) only to find her family has moved on, and she finds out that she is strong enough to push through and continue to evolve as a strong, dominant woman.
Through prose reminiscent of Mary Renault, the author has crafted Larthia as likeable and sympathetic. Her time as a scribe serves her well, as she remembers scraps of poetry (written by Sappho) which remind her of home and is able to use her writing and organizational skills to maneuver her way into positions of authority (as much as she is able to in a patriarchal society). She remains a strong female role model, retaining her sense of self, compassion, and worth even as she suffers at the hands of some brutal characters.
Without lecturing, Burgundy successfully explores Etruscan culture and history and parses fine detail and the differences between Larthia’s background and the societies where she finds herself. Etruria in particular proves more open to the equal status of women than the other cultures she encounters, especially for those who would soon lead on the world stage. Well-written and fun to read, suitable for any public library and some high schools.