Structured like the five scrolls, Hypatia shares her insurmountable losses and details the struggles of her time. A woman ahead of her time, Hypatia experiences olive picking and papyrus manufacturing, while arriving at realizations like “There is no security in life. There is no one and no thing to rely upon.” Yet she still believes that “Life is so utterly beautiful.” Her goal is to “counter-balance the crowd mentality” as she navigates history, philosophy, astronomy, and geometry. She faces formidable opponents and dangers, and benefits from mysterious assistance, not always choosing the easy or popular way.
Clark skillfully highlights name changes, reflecting the transformations in the characters’ lives. Jason, the camel driver, transitions into Theophilus, whose ambition and Christian piety reflect the uncertainty Alexandrians faced in a time of external threats and internal corruption. Clark disparages the “literary legend” of Hypatia, offering a thought-provoking and engaging narrative that brings to life the complexities of a fascinating period that, in Clark’s handling, connects to the present with some urgency.
Takeaway: Vivid historical novel of Hypatia, pagan beliefs, and the tumult of Late antiquity.
Comparable Titles: Ki Longfellow’s Flow Down Like Silver, Hypatia of Alexandria, Faith L. Justice’s Selene of Alexandria.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A