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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

     

The Goddess of
Buttercups and Daisies


by
Martin Millar


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies



Title: The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies
Author: Martin Millar
Genre: Novel
Written: 2015
Length: 194 pages
Availability: The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies - US
The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies - UK
The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies - Canada
The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies - India

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Our Assessment:

B : genial little comedy

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Guardian . 30/4/2015 Jonathan Wright
Publishers Weekly . 30/3/2015 .
Scotland on Sunday . 29/3/2015 Stuart Kelly


  From the Reviews:
  • "Buttercups and Daisies is a comedy that is by turns rambunctious, satirical and bittersweet. (...) Using the term in its very loosest sense, it is Millarís first historical novel, but that doesnít mean itís a radical departure: he has always operated in fictional spaces where the fantastic intrudes into the day-to-day world." - Jonathan Wright, The Guardian

  • "Very short chapters, from the various perspectives of the main characters, keep the novel moving at an appropriately manic pace. Smart escapist reading." - Publishers Weekly

  • "The narrative shifts between perspectives, in bite-size chapters, which keeps the pacing enviably tight and flowing, with minor characters drawn in to give an overview of Athens in that period. The bickering between Bremusa and Metris, or Aristophanes and Luxos, crackles along nicely. Despite the classical allusions, The Goddess Of Buttercups And Daisies is a light read even when dealing with significant themes." - Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies is set in ancient Greece, in the Athens of 421 BC, and features historical figures including Aristophanes and Socrates (as well as Plato and Xenophon as young tots), a variety of deities and other mythical figures, and even an earlier incarnation of the title-figure of one of Millar's contemporary novels, Lux the Poet.
       Times are a bit tough, with Athens and Sparta still at war and both sides rather worn down by now. The Dionysia is approaching, and Aristophanes is competing with his new play, Peace, but the production isn't coming together as he'd like and he's short of funds for the production he envisions (which necessitates, among other things, the procurement of generously-sized prop-penises); worse, there are interest groups who worry that the play might sway the citizenry to push for and accept a peace with Sparta and who actively are trying to sabotage his efforts. Meanwhile, young Luxos the would-be poet is looking for his big (or really any) break, but coming from the wrong side of the tracks he has a hard time getting anyone to give him a chance.
       The gods are still pretty active back in ancient Greece, and so they get involved too: Athena, who wants the locals to agree to a peace, learns "some corrupt priestess in Athens has summoned Laet !" -- which in turn leads her to send the Amazon Bremusa to prevent Laet from upsetting everything. Unfortunately, Bremusa is limited in what she can do: "Laet can't die in Athens. Her malevolent spirit would curse the city." Gods themselves can't enter Athens during the Dionysia, so the only back-up Athena can offer is a river spirit -- though the hoped-for one, Meretricia, "was depressed by all the fighting, so she changed back into a river and moved away", leaving only wood nymph Metris to help Bremusa out.
       Laet is a powerful force -- an aura of negative energy that seems to get to everything that comes across her path. She merely has to walk by to upset any sense of agreement -- making her a great threat to the peace talks going on. Metris, meanwhile, is sorely lacking almost all nymph-magic, but she does bring good cheer to those she meets -- and easily seduces someone like Luxos the poet, who falls for her hard. But otherwise there's little more that she can do than ... "make daisies and buttercups grow really quickly". Which -- this is the kind of book this is -- of course does prove to be an actually useful talent.
       Aristophanes works on his play (and raising money for it), Luxos looks for opportunities to perform his poems, and Bremusa seeks Laet (who in turn is cruelly but amusingly messing with the Athenians) -- without all that much help from her flighty wood-nyph-assistant. Millar weaves these various storylines together in very short chapters that shift the focus from one set of characters to another, all the while offering a solid (and often humorous) tour of the Athens of the times, and several historical figures. The big questions that drive the plot from the get-go -- will Aristophanes' play win the big prize ? will Athens and Sparta make peace ? will Luxos be discovered ? -- are entertainingly followed through, and both the supernatural elements and the down-to-earth excesses are enjoyable aspects of the novel.
       History is treated fairly playfully -- including Millar's suggestion as to how Lysistrata came into being, or in glimpses of the very young Plato and Xenophon -- but there's a serious side to it all too, and while Millar never lets it weigh down his story very much, it at least adds a sense of seriousness to the proceedings.
       The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies is a quick, light read with some amusing scenes and clever ideas -- ultimately a bit thin, perhaps, but certainly an enjoyable morsel.

- M.A.Orthofer, 15 November 2015

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Links:

The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies: Reviews: Martin Millar: Other books by Martin Millar under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       British author Martin Millar has written numerous novels, both under his own name and as Martin Scott.

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© 2015 the complete review

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