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The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon

The Golden Mean (2009)

by Annabel Lyon

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A book which really grew on me while reading, this tells the story of Aristotle's time at the court of his childhood friend Philip of Macedon at Pella. Initially employed to treat the king's elder, brain-damaged son, Aristotle is increasingly fascinated by Philip's younger boy: the smart, inscrutable and fragile Alexander. When Philip extends his job description to include tutoring Alexander, Aristotle finds himself set against a mind as thirsty for knowledge as his own, and as ruthless - but shaped of very different clay. By turns inspiring, poetic and strikingly vulgar, this is an odd book but one that really makes its mark.

Please see the full review on my blog here:
http://theidlewoman.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/the-golden-mean-annabel-lyon.html ( )
  Leander2010 | May 20, 2014 |
Needless to say, I didn't like this book much at all. The writing didn't add anything to the book, it didn't keep me interested. The amount of profanity in the book ruined the natural flow of the story. It wasn't that necessary to begin with, but this book seemed to use it in excess.

I didn't like the characterization, I found them to be flat, and didn't develop much during the book, particularly, Aristotle. Overall it was a very frustrating read for me. So much, that I've found it hard to write a full review for the book.

To sum it up, this was not my book, and I doubt I'll read the next book, Sweet Girl, which I had planned to read as part of my reading of the Giller long list for 2012.

Also on my book review blog Jules' Book Reviews - The Golden Mean ( )
  bookwormjules | Nov 3, 2012 |
A novel about Aristotle arriving to Pella and being asked to stay to tutor feral Alexander. ( )
  mari_reads | Sep 9, 2012 |
Philosophy is not an interest of mine, so I think that soured the novel for me. I just kept getting frustrated with the restrictions of the historical plot and the silliness of some of the beliefs of the ancient Greeks. ( )
1 vote reluctantm | Apr 29, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
The novel is deep and rich in thought and accomplishment, yet it reads with the calming ease and influence of a cool summer breeze.
added by Shortride | editQuill & Quire

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It must be borne in mind that my design is not to write histories, but lives. And the most glorious exploits do not always furnish us with the clearest discoveries of virtue or vice in men; sometimes a matter of less moment, an expression or a jest, informs us better of their characters and inclinations, than the most famous sieges, the greatest armaments, or the bloodiest battles whatsoever.

Plutarch, Alexander
translated by John Dryden
For my parents,
my children,
and Bryant.
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The rain falls in black cords, lashing my animals, my men, and my Wife, Pythias, who last night lay with her legs spread while I took notes on the mouth of her sex, who weeps silent tears of exhaustion now, on this tenth day of our journey.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307356205, Hardcover)

Amazon Best of the Month, September 2010: In mathematics, the principle of the Golden Mean refers to a series of numbers in which each new number is the sum of the previous two, poetically illustrated by the chambers of a nautilus shell. And so Annabel Lyon’s debut novel The Golden Mean portrays lives that grow bigger as they unfold--in this case, two of the most notable lives ever lived, those of Alexander the Great and his tutor, Aristotle. In sharply executed, revealing dialogue, Lyon draws contrasts between the rational, sensitive Aristotle and the charming, dangerous Alexander, and we're reminded of another sense of the Golden Mean, the classical ideal of a balance between extremes. In this subtle, earthy story, we watch as the events of Aristotle’s life mold the ideas that made him famous, and watch those ideas in turn mold the prince of Macedon who would one day "open his mouth and swallow the whole world." Lyon draws the curtain back on the smoke-filled huts and palace chambers that shaped the lives of these two great men, whose mutual admiration and intellect transformed civilization. It’s historical fiction at its finest. --Juliet Disparte

Hilary Mantel Reviews The Golden Mean

Hilary Mantel is the author of ten novels, including A Change of Climate, A Place of Greater Safety, Eight Months on Ghazzah Street, and the Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall. She has also written a memoir, Giving Up the Ghost. Winner of the Hawthornden Prize, she reviews for The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and the London Review of Books. She lives in England. Read her review of The Golden Mean:

I think this quietly ambitious and beautifully achieved novel is one of the most convincing historical novels I have ever read. Lyon makes her reader avid for every detail of this strange world, whether domestic or medical or military, and she has steeped herself in the thinking of the time. She makes her characters entirely solid and real, while respecting their otherness, the distance between us. That is what characterized Mary Renault's novels, and I think that she would have deeply admired this book. There is a particular difficulty for the novelist in putting on the page characters, like Aristotle and Alexander, who are so famous that they have a mythic quality--there is the danger that anything you say will be bathetic. Lyon avoids this by clear-eyed directness, by freshness of vision, and prose that is clean and careful. And I thought that she chose to end the story at precisely the right point. Part of me said "please let there be more," but at the same time I recognize the job is done. Throughout, I think her judgment is sound and true, and the reader trusts her voice from the first paragraph.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:51 -0400)

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Aristotle must postpone his dream of succeeding Plato at the Academy in Athens when he is forced to tutor Alexander, a prince of Macedon. Aristotle's resentment at his situation is soon overcome by the boy's intellectual potential and his capacity for surprise.… (more)

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Average: (3.52)
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2 7
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