Cooney, Caroline B. Goddess of Yesterday. Laurel Leaf, 2003. ISBN 978-0440229308 272 pp. $
A whole new view of Helen of Troy, the woman whose face launched a thousand ships, is delivered through the eyes of Anaxandra, a sailor’s daughter masquerading as a princess after being captured by invaders. Not just a pretty face, Helen is a shrewd and poisonous viper, suspicious of the new girl in her home. Anaxandra/Calisto comes to love her new home and makes quick friends, but trying to stay one jump ahead of the lovely yet black-hearted adulteress queen is exhausting. Will her impostering secret be discovered? And if so, how will she fare?
Cooney offers an exciting and rich tale of love and war amid the backdrop of ancient Greece. Historical detail immerses the reader into the story, and insight into customs and religion makes this a strong choice for school curriculums. Several Greek myths are retold throughout the story from Anaxandra posing as Medusa to Zeus’s many conquests. Characterizations are excellent. May have a limited audience of Caroline Cooney fans and Greek mythology buffs, pair with McLaren’s Inside the Walls of Troy (Atheneum, 1996) and Adele Geras’s earthier Troy (Harcourt 2001) for discussion.