The Sweet Girl
The Sweet Girl, Annabel Lyon’s follow up novel to her award winning 2011 novel, The Golden Mean, is a fast-moving, fascinating read even if, like me, you haven’t yet read the first book. Inspired by a fragment of the Greek philosopher Aristotle’s actual will (which serves as an introduction to the book), Lyon examines the life of Aristotle’s daughter, Pythias, a very modern girl constrained in a world still dominated primarily by the laws of men and the vagrancies of the gods.
Throughout her youth, Pythias’s famous father has taught her many answers to the natural and philosophical questions of the time despite a reluctance by society (or at least the male society of Aristotle’s colleagues) to accept that a female’s mind can comprehend in the same way as a male’s. When Aristotle dies, however, he leaves the 16-year-old Pythias with much factual knowledge but little actual protection in a time of both political and personal turmoil.
Lyon’s writing is smooth yet colourful and easily transports the reader back 2300 years to be enveloped in the world of Pythias. Lyon creates a character which is in many ways exceptional for her time whilst at the same time portraying a young girl with all the same wishes, anxieties and naiveties as any 16-year-old.
Lyon’s storytelling is also littered with fascinating period details, from helpful household hints (the many uses of thorny burnet, the Grecian equivalent of bubble wrap) to the social taboo of addressing a girl by her name in public or teaching her to swim. I look forward to enjoying more of the same from Lyon when I rectify my previous oversight and now read The Golden Mean without further delay.
236 (Can), 256 (US, UK)