Amazons. The mere mention of this mythic group of warrior women is sure to spark (long-lost?) ruminations or fond recollections. You may recall references from history or literature class, but the details probably seem shrouded in so much mystery, innuendo and vaguely wishful thinking.
For me, the Amazons represent a fascinating (albeit illusive) aspect of history/literature. This impression was even more intensified when I took a course on “Women in Ancient Literature” from Dr. Moon in grad school. It was a hot (and sleepy) summer. I was madly trying to finish up my graduate requirements… That experience (and tall stack of reading material) offered the perfect combo for the book geek in me.
Back to the Present
So, I love the Amazons!
I know, it’s often dangerous to judge a book by the summary description for The Lost Sisterhood, but I was immediately fascinated by that word: Amazons. The book that unfolded before me wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but it also didn’t disappoint.
Anne Fortier draws us into the tale of a young-ish Oxford student-lecturer… Of course, just as we become accustomed to one locale, we’re swept away to another place/time. Here are just a few of the reasons you may just fall in love with this book!
- History & Imagination: No familiarity with Amazon-related manuscripts is necessary. All the sources go on parade through the text, leaving us with fascinating connections with history, while simultaneously catapulting us forward through time–to make wild, but fascinatingly intriguing leaps of the imagination.
- Rooted in Place(s): Discoveries made from manuscripts and artifacts lead our stalwart group of heroes by land, sea and air–on a madcap search of discovery. All the while, it’s a process of unearthing secrets, long hidden or buried or even presumed lost (or misunderstood).
- Sleuthing Detective Novel: Just like some of our favorite literary sleuths, the characters in The Lost Sisterhood uncover truths that are obvious, when they know where (and when) to look. Misdirection, danger, and other obstacles–all work to prevent them from learning the truth. But, they don’t give up…
- Feminist Manifesto-Turned-Romance: Discussions of the Amazons can lead us to delve further into the elements of a female-only society–whether it’s considered a utopia or dystopia. And, there’s also the man-hating, self-mutilation, and the magnificence in their warrior prowess of the ancient Amazon women. With all that history already tied to the Amazon legacy, The Lost Sisterhood pulls the stories together. Then, we see, feel and touch history as it unfolds in all its graphic, ungodly, grotesque, inhuman and magnificent glory.
All along, we might well question the meaning behind the title: The Lost Sisterhood. It’s the story of yet another group of “anonymous” women–relegated to a mysterious, uncertain and macabre side-note in history. But, these sister-women are tenacious. They have not been completely lost to us–remnants of them remain. And, drawing from their illusive presence in history, Fortier gives voice to long-silenced voices from the past. She gives them power over their own lives (via a sisterhood that evolved through brutal experience). They were able to survive (and thrive) in ways so revolutionary and radical to most ancient thought.
Then, Fortier carries that thread of storytelling into the present. And, if we allow just a slight leap, we may also imagine a possible future as well. We may consider: what secret society (lost sisterhood) could there still be? What mysterious truths might still be revealed?
After all… Throughout The Lost Sisterhood, we follow Diana Morgan: an outsider-heroine in search for illusive truth–made manifest through a lost huntress, moon priestesses, the monstrous Minotaur, and young princely fellows. These flights of imagination ties myth to more ordinary stories. Perhaps other (more modern) lives could be construed in mythic dimension, given enough time and creative re-interpretations.