What we’re reading- ‘Stone Blind’, Natalie Haynes
This month, I have been reading Natalie Hayne’s moving retelling of the story of Medusa, ‘Stone Blind’. The 2022 novel became an instant hit on its publication, becoming a Sunday Times bestseller and longlisted for the 2023 Women’s Prize for Fiction.
In her novel, Haynes introduces the reader to Medusa in a way we have never seen her before. The infamous Gorgon is first introduced as a baby sent to live with two Gorgon sisters- Sthenno and Euryale- who raise Medusa to be both human and Gorgon. Haynes guides the reader through
Medusa’s life as a half-Gorgon/half Mortal, until her fateful meeting with Poseidon in a temple of Athene. With each chapter written from a different female perspective, the reader is given the different opinions, thoughts and views of mortal and immortal women. Haynes shows Medusa not as the monster most of us know, but as an innocent victim of the wants and furies of the Gods- Poseidon and Athene. Outraged at the disrespect shown in her temple, Athene exacts her revenge on Poseidon by giving Medusa her infamous snake hair and lethal gaze.
Natalie Haynes brings to life the stories of little known or forgotten women- and in some instances objects- from Greek mythology. Such as Andromeda, Cassiope, Iodame and Danae- interlinking their stories with the main plot of the book whilst offering new perspectives on many well known and loved ‘heroes’ of Greek mythology- such as Perseus, Poseidon and Hephaestus. Haynes shines a light on the nature of mortals and immortals, sometimes comically showing how the Gods are not so different from ourselves. Bringing to life the unfair treatment of Medusa, Andromeda and, even the Gorgons and Gaia themselves, at the hands of immortals and men.
Haynes' novel is a must read for fans of the new female retellings of Greek mythology and is sure to be an instant classic. Recommended for fans of Jennifer Saint, Claire North and Elodie Harper, ‘Stone Blind’ is a heartfelt love letter to Medusa and women forgotten or remembered wrongly by history.