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Glory and the Lightning by Taylor Caldwell
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Glory and the Lightning (1974)

by Taylor Caldwell

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This is a powerful, thought-provoking, exciting, riveting book. Taylor Caldwell is one of the greats, with a middle-sized g. The first third of the book is the life of Aspasia before she met Pericles, the second half is the life of Pericles before he met Aspasia, and the last third, is of course easy to predict. The great thing about reading a Taylor Caldwell book is that when you finished you feel both thoroughly entertained and also somehow a better person. Full of philosophy, history, tests of character, and never pedantic. There is both a divine and an earthy quality to this, as well as to her other books. ( )
  cliffmon | Jan 2, 2017 |
This is the story of Pericles and Aspasia. It starts with Aspasia, who is essentially an educated young soon-to-be prostitute who is sent to live with a powerful man in Persia. Eventually she runs a school in Athens and becomes connected to Pericles. The story of Pericles is about his attempt to live in accord with his beliefs and to prevent the death and damage of his city and friends by his multitude of enemies.

Once Pericles' story starts, Aspasia's perspective becomes limited. Other issues interfered with enjoying this book as well. For example, though recognizing differences in cultural beliefs across place and time, the repeated explanations of homosexuality as perversion became tiresome. There were also positive parts of this book. I enjoyed the non-reverential historical references to Sophocles, Socrates, Zeno, and others. As a whole this was a book that for me would have been improved by a more balanced maintenance of perspective between Aspasia and Pericles. ( )
  karmiel | Aug 22, 2015 |
Fictional story of Pericles, the ancient Greek statesman, and Aspasia, the hetaera [courtesan] who opens a school for young ladies in 5th century B.C. Athens. First we're told her story, the Pericles's story, then their lives together after their meeting. Through envy and jealousy of Pericles there are assassination attempts on first his sons, then on Aspasia. Also, several of his friends are tried on trumped up charges.

Ms. Caldwell researched that era well; details of Athenian life were fascinating. Sometimes the politics did bog the book down. Although the novel was enjoyable and I couldn't put it down, it was not up to the standard of [Dear and Glorious Physician]. ( )
  janerawoof | Nov 9, 2014 |
Glory and the Lightning is based on the life of Aspasia, the beautiful and intelligent courtesan who eventually became the companion of Pericles, ruler of Athens. Rejected by her father, and hidden from him by her mother, Aspasia, when she is but a few days old, is given to and raised by a woman who runs a high-class school for courtesans. Aspasia receives an education well above what most women of her time are allowed.

Much research and imagination went into the creation of this marvelous tapestry of ancient Greece. While the culture has it's attractions, the barbaric treatment of most women at that time is likely to be repulsive to some. Still, I find the novel to be a page turner. The historical facts presented here are accurate enough to give the reader a clear picture of the early 5th century BC... and if the author took a few liberties with her facts... well, the book IS sold as fiction, not a book of history, after all.

I recommend this to readers interested in fiction that is laced with lots of imagination and has some interesting historical personages as the main characters, as well as some relevant historical information.

This review is simultaneously published on Dragonviews, and Library Thing ( )
  1dragones | Sep 9, 2009 |
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For my dear friends, William Everett Stancell, and "Bob" Curran, of the Buffalo Evening News.
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The beautiful young mother came weeping to look upon her child, Aspasia
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From back cover: Taylor Caldwell's most extraordinary heroine, a woman fighting for her right to be fully human in the "man's world" of ancient Greece: Aspasia was born to danger; before her birth, her father had announced his intention of abandoning the child to die, should it be a girl; hidden away and trained as a courtesan, Aspasia was educated in the arts of seduction in the exotic world of Persian harems, but when fate and her own sensuous beauty brought her to the bed of Pericles, ruler of Athens, Aspasia became not only his lover, but his confidante: a woman whose brilliance placed her in the precarious center of Athenian life at the height of the glory that was Greece.
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New York Times Bestseller: A breathtaking saga of ancient Greece and one of history's most influential political couples, Aspasia and Pericles. Born in the Greek city of Miletus, Aspasia was destined for a life of tragedy. Her wealthy father vowed to abandon any female child, so Aspasia was secreted away, educated independently of her family, and raised as a courtesan. She discovered at an early age how to use her powers of intellect as ingeniously as those of the flesh. Ensconced in the Persian harems of Al Taliph, she meets the man who will change her fate: Pericles, the formidable political leader, statesman, ruler of Athens, and Aspasia's most cherished lover. She becomes his trusted confidante, his equal through scandal, war, and revolt. From the eruption of the Peloponnesian War to violent political and family rivalries to a devastating plague, author Taylor Caldwell plunges the reader into the heart of ancient Athens. In bringing to life the tumultuous love affairs and gripping power struggles of one of history's most complicated and fascinating women, Glory and the Lightning is thrilling proof that "Caldwell never falters when it comes to storytelling" (Publishers Weekly). This ebook features an illustrated biography of Taylor Caldwell including rare images from the author's estate.… (more)

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