Marina Warner: The Leto Bundle


The latest addition to my website is Marina Warner‘s The Leto Bundle. This is a superb novel about identity, refugees, immigration, religion, the effect of war and political upheaval, particularly on women, as well, of course, as we would expect from Marina Warner, about myth and its role both in the past and for us now. Leto was a female Titan, raped by Zeus and giving birth to twins. However, in this book, she is more of an everywoman, even though we follow her as a recurring character from mythological times to the present day, via medieval and Victorian times. In each of the four cases she is a victim struggling to survive, to raise her children and deal with the turmoil that is going on around her. The book is primarily set in contemporary England, though it is called Albion. The Leto Bundle is the findings from a grave where Leto was buried in an unnamed country but presumably Greece. These consist of various grave goods and shroud but no body. However, the New Albion Museum, a very thinly disguised British Museum, adds a body and christens the whole Helen, leading people not just to identify it with Helen of Troy but to set up a sort of cult around it. Ths is led by a young teacher called Kim McQuy, an immigrant from the city of Tirzah (where, we learn Leto had been) and adopted by English parents. Leto and her bundle and her children, McQuy and a pop singer called Gramercy Poule all converge towards the end. However, the book’s strength is discussing and raising a host of ideas and integrating them into a complex but very fine story. Highly recommended.

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