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The Golden Mean (2009)
by Annabel Lyon
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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 Thu, 14 Feb 2013 13:46:35 -0500)
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.
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