The Furies is about a woman, Alex Morris, who moves from London to Edinburgh after the tragic death of her fiancé. Formerly a director, she takes on the job as teacher of a classroom of teenagers with troubled pasts, difficult personalities, and behavioral issues who have been expelled from other schools. Rather than art, or music, or dance, or any of those more stereotypical therapy paths, she explores the Greek plays with them. I found this premise highly unlikely but then reconsidered maybe not so. Isn't West Side Story based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet? The students are able to relate these classics to their personal lives at some level. Several moral issues are raised that spark some heated classroom discussions.
Alex is given limited information in each of the five students' files so as not to bias her when she meets them. Some of the students in turn want to dig deep and learn Alex's background and why she would take such a job with them. That bit of intrigue, the mutual curiosity both ways, lends interest to the novel. Student sporadic outbursts, when something said inadvertently triggers an out of proportion and sometimes violent response, inject surprises into the book that startle the heroine and also the reader.
The novel was different from many I've read. The Furies was full of angst. It was an unusual type of pager turner, unveiling characters and plot as a psychological mystery. So engaging was it that I completed it within a day and a half of arriving home. It was outside my normal genre of books, though I admit, if asked to describe what my genre is, I'd be forced to sheepishly admit "eclectic". Besides, in reading this book, I in turn learned a bit about some Greek plays, many for which I have certainly heard the titles but would be fairly hard pressed to summarize their plots. Perhaps after reading this novel I may be able to answer a few more questions that arise on the television game show Jeopardy. When writing this post I checked out the author's website at www.nataliehaynes.com and learned she is dedicated to preserving the Greek classics. It made sense she would weave them into her novel and do so in a very plausible manner. I rate The Furies three stars.
I end this post with a puzzle. This is the dedication in the book. Any ideas what it means? Frank and I had fun trying to decipher it. Yes, bad pun, but, "It's all Greek to me".