To order a copy for £11.43 (RRP £12.99) go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. A gated community … no place for Dana and Gren. Headley has written a novel that does everything a book should, but does the extra work with creating a brand new translation of an old story. Over 800 years later, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein gave us a monster with not just pathos but psychology; Headley’s story owes as much to the Romantic era as the Anglo-Saxon. Maria Dahvana Headley’s muscular, bloodthirsty novel is a contemporary retelling of Beowulf from the perspective of Grendel’s mother: nameless in the poem, here she’s called Dana Mills, and her son is Gren. John Gardner, of course, famously recast that poem in his novel Grendel, re-centering the epic around the monster, and plumbing its ancient setting with modern psychological depth.Headley is after something else entirely. All are wounded, all are selfish, all are human – and it makes this story even more relevant. Even inside Herot, she knows that “You can’t fight nature … You can’t make it human. White picket fences, impeccably manicured lawns, the works. Her diction and prose are written in a way to evoke the Old English story, even using a few words from the old dialect. Like Beowulf, The Mere Wife is a story of invasion. The novel does share the legacy of Beowulf; none of these women are perfect. “Rape? The Mere Wife. (Willa, we learn, has only feared once that her husband might betray her: a time when he “began to pour himself scotch and sob at the dining table, using words like existential and guitar”.). To borrow from the blurb on Amazon: New York Times bestselling author Maria Dahvana Headley presents a modern retelling of the literary classic Beowulf , set in American suburbia as two mothers—a housewife and a battle-hardened veteran—fight to protect those they love in The Mere Wife . ... let it go for a mere $185,000.) Liked it? Gren is a boy struggling to understand the world around him, despite that the world wasn’t meant to contain him. The Mere Wife is not a retelling of that great old tale, but rather a playful reconsideration, an invitation to look at its characters from a different perspective. Maria Dahvana Headley: a feminist reading. The problem is that Gren is unaware of the invisible and unspoke barriers that are between him and the rest of the world. It is a reminder that stories survive through the centuries because – however antiquated they seem on the surface – … The content does not shy away from modern problems or the current events that continue to rock society from day in and day out. I know the world. • The Mere Wife is published by Scribe. Above all, Headley’s novel, with its roots in ancient legend, proves especially relevant in this time of heightened … The Mere Wife is a bold, stunning riptide of a book." Movie Reviews TV Reviews Roundtables Podcasts 'My Rembrandt': Film Review ... of a husband and wife, on either side of the bed. 4.2 out of 5. Her command of prose and point of view is impressive by any measure, and makes a story that is utterly readable and impactful. The question rippling through Headley’s ambitious novel is why we need to cast anyone as a monster at all. If you see problems or bugs on the site, please let us know and include the URL and also which browser you are using. So, in many ways this translation is a natural successor to that work. Everyone is an animal.”. (The third word is the indispensable, untranslatable Old English call to attention hwæt: Headley gives a whole list of possibilities, which later turn up as section headings.). Dana Mills wakes up unsure of what has happened to her or why she is pregnant. In essence, The Mere Wife follows the stories of two women and their sons: Dana, a former soldier who was supposed to be killed on camera but somehow survived and believes she gave birth to a monster, and Willa, a suburban wife seemingly living a perfect life in her gilded cage of a gated community. The Mere Wife publishes July 18th with Farrar, Straus & Giroux. She is interrogated and ends up in … He’s all bones and angles. Kirkus Reviews (starred review) A boy with brown skin?” The echo here is not centuries old, but six years: Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager shot dead in a gated community by a neighbourhood watch patroller. She plans dinner parties and pours cocktails, but she also sees that a balaclava looks like “a sucked dry head, skull and eyes missing, only skin left”. by Maria Dahvana Headley. The developers of Herot Hall refuse to acknowledge the stories and lives of those who lived on Herot’s land before their arrival. She and her son, Gren, live together in the caves that honeycomb the mountain and house the mere, that also feeds Herot Hall. It is this intersection that neither woman’s world will be the same. “Any of those things will make him a target. In The Mere Wife, the residents of Herot are invaders. (Penguin, $16.) Get our latest news, giveaways, free subscriptions and more. ―Publishers Weekly "The Mere Wife [is] an intense, visceral reading Summaries. The story’s setting is in a microcosm of civilization: suburbia. Where it stood, there is now a gated community of mini-mansions named Herot, and the grandest of these is Herot Hall, occupied by the founder’s son Roger Herot, his wife Willa and their son Dylan. Book of the day Fiction The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley review – a modern Beowulf The Old English epic becomes an ambitious American … The Mere Wife is clever and often funny, finding ingenious ways to update the Beowulf story, in a way that produces wry social commentary. Both could be wrong, though. It's "The Stepford Wives," 9/11 and English class thrown into a lyrical blender, and it's kind of glorious. Instead, either Dana or Willa could be the title character, depending on how you read “mere”. Headley's The Mere Wife is both a celebration of motherly love and an exploration of the disruptive tension between coexisting opposites. In this way it is a story of mothers and sons, the equal intensity and distance of that bond. The Old English epic becomes an ambitious American fable, in this bloodthirsty novel told from the point of view of the monster’s mother. Jake Meador is the editor-in-chief of Mere Orthodoxy and author of "In Search of the Common Good: Christian Fidelity in a Fractured World." Dana is a forgotten, broken woman who cannot make sense of the world’s past sins against her. If everyone is an animal, why do some get classified as monsters? Alicia Sometimes and Raf Epstein both praise Maria Dahvana Headley's modern retelling of Beowulf in Drive's monthly book club. But what does the monster want? A wonder? Think “mere” as sea, as in the Old English, and not just as some dismissive term. Plot. It is this real wrinkle in the narrative that makes the modernization so believable, making this much more than only a rehashing of the original tale. She knows she is a member of the marines. You can’t even make yourself human. She awoke one day and found Gren. Certainly, reading Headley’s introductory remarks, it was born out of Q&A sessions at festivals following The Mere Wife’s promotion. An invader shifting the focus of the world ’ s unforgettable that the world ’ the! Question rippling through Headley ’ s unforgettable that the women, not the titular of! As Maria Dahvana Headley ’ s never known setting is in a curious way like Beowulf, set modern! 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