It’s in the nature of myth to be infinitely adaptable. Each of these startlingly original stories is set in modern Britain. Their characters include a people-trafficking gang-master and a prostitute, a migrant worker and a cocksure estate agent, an elderly musician doubly befuddled by dementia and the death of his wife, a pest-controller suspected of paedophilia and a librarian so well-behaved that her parents wonder anxiously whether she’ll ever find love.
They’re ordinary people, preoccupied, as we all are now, by the deficiencies of the health service, by criminal gangs and homelessness, by the pitfalls of dating in the age of #metoo. All of their stories, though, are inspired by ones drawn from Graeco-Roman myth, from the Bible or from folk-lore.
The ancients invented myths to express what they didn’t understand. These witty fables, elegantly written and full of sharp-eyed observation of modern life, are also visionary explorations of potent mysteries and strange passions, charged with the hallucinatory beauty and horror of their originals.
Lucy Hughes-Hallett is the author of The Pike, a biography of Gabriele d’Annunzio, which won the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non Fiction, the Costa Biography Award, the Duff Cooper Prize and the Paddy Power Political Biography of the Year Award. Her other books are Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams and Distortions which was published in 1990 to wide acclaim, and Heroes: Saviours, Traitors and Supermen, published in 2004, which garnered similar praise. Cleopatra won the Fawcett Prize and the Emily Toth Award. Lucy Hughes-Hallett is also a respected critic who has reviewed for all the major British newspapers, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She lives in London.
Read: Sample of Fabulous, HarperCollins
Review: Fabulous, Fiendfully Reading
Prompt: Choose three random newspaper headlines and work them into a story. Aim for 3 paragraphs.