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In Homage to Hera

Who, let’s face it, had to put up with an awful lot from Zeus.

I don’t know what I was looking for when I stumbled across mention of the Hera series, but I googled it and wound up on this page on Library Thing.

One of the books on the list was Cecelia Holland’s Great Maria, a book set in southern Italy in the 1100’s. Maria is the daughter of a robber baron who is married off to the strongest and most ambitious of her father’s knights, and the next fifteen years are adventurous indeed. I read this novel when it first came out in 1974, and I remember how struck I was by Maria’s strength, determination and independence, all conveyed without any sense of anachronism. Maria is a heroine, but she is definitely of her own time and place. And she sure isn’t someone anybody, including her husband, wants to cross.

I decided it was time to read it again, and went to Amazon, where, lo and behold, I noticed that Soho Press had published a series called “the Hera Series.” The other books are also historical novels about women written by women, like Gillian Bradshaw’s Beacon at Alexandria, about Charis who escapes an unwelcome marriage to Roman emperor Festinus to disguise herself as a eunuch and study medicine in Egypt, and Nancy Zaroulis’ Call the Darkness Light, about a minister’s daughter in 19th century New England.

Since discovering the existence of the Hera series, I have reread Great Maria and it’s even better than I remember it. I think I’ll give the other titles a try.

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