'They cut her hair before they dragged her to the place of sacrifice. Her mouth was gagged to stop her cursing her father, her cowardly, two-tongued father. Nonetheless, they heard her muffled screams.' On the day of his daughter's wedding, Agamemnon orders her sacrifice. His daughter is led to her death, and Agamemnon leads his army into battle, where he is rewarded with glorious victory. Three years later, he returns home and his murderous action has set the entire family - mother, brother, sister - on a path of intimate violence, as they enter a world of hushed commands and soundless journeys through the palace's dungeons and bedchambers. As his wife seeks his death, his daughter, Electra, is the silent observer to the family's game of innocence while his son, Orestes, is sent into bewildering, frightening exile where survival is far from certain. Out of their desolating loss, Electra and Orestes must find a way to right these wrongs of the past even if it means committing themselves to a terrible, barbarous act. House of Names is a story of intense longing and shocking betrayal. It is a work of great beauty, and daring, from one of our finest living writers.
Colm Tóibín reintroduces us to Clytemnestra and her children, in a story woven with murder, cruelty, lust and revenge. The cold sacrifice of human life terrified me but I could not look away and devoured each of the family members’ viewpoints with great intensity. Gripped to the end by the ferocious power struggle between the characters, I once again find myself in awe of Tóibín’s ability to tell an epic tale at a pace to rival any thriller.
Recommended by Natalie Winterlich, Dubray Head Office