Penguin Michael Joseph has pre-empted a novel about Helen of Troy’s sister, Clytemnestra, by journalist Costanza Casati.
Editorial director Jillian Taylor acquired world rights to the novel from Victoria Hobbs at A M Heath. It will be published in spring 2023.
The book tells the powerful story of Clytemnestra, sister to Helen of Troy and wife to Agamemnon, who led the Greek forces during the Trojan War.
Its blurb reads: “Born a Spartan princess, trained to hunt with wolves, Clytemnestra is betrayed by her own father, betrothed to a brutish king, raped and shamed, and forced to watch the assassination of her loved ones. As Clytemnestra plunges deeper into the wretched game of retribution, the thought of seeking vengeance is a seed that grows into a poisonous vine. A thrilling tale of power and prophecies, of hatred, love, and of a singular Queen who fiercely dealt out death to those who hurt her, Clytemnestra is that rare thing: a stirring page-turner with an ancient and very human heart.”
Casati was born in 1995 in Texas, and raised in Northern Italy. She has a BA in English and film from Queen Mary’s University in London, a Masters in writing from the University of Warwick, and currently works as a freelance journalist and screenwriter. She self-published an earlier novel, The President Show.
She said: “I fell in love with Clytemnestra 10 years ago when studying the language and literature of this world: for me, she is the standout character from these myths and stories—a defiant heroine, ambitious, resilient, and giving a hard time to the men who hurt her. I wanted to explore the life of a female character who wasn’t left in the margins, but who took part in the action—a warrior, powerbroker and queen. It is the dream of a lifetime to work with Penguin Michael Joseph and to bring this extraordinary heroine's story to life, and I am eternally grateful to Jillian and my agent Victoria for believing in me and in Clytemnestra’s story.”
Taylor said: “As ancient as Clytemnestra’s story is, it deals with something incredibly modern: a powerful woman who refuses to know her place and, in turn, is feared and hated by the men around her. If Cersei Lannister were to be transported to the ancient world, this novel would be it. Clytemnestra is not a retelling that gives voice to the voiceless—Clytemnestra had a voice—but the story of a woman who was a major player in the dangerous, male-dominated world of Ancient Greece.”