Beauty's Daughter

Written By Carolyn Meyer

Author & Book Facts

  • Carolyn Meyer has written over 60 books for teens and young adults.

  • She mainly writes fiction with historical background.

  • The book takes place around 13th century BCE.
  • The opening is almost a year before the war starts and goes through a few years after the war.
  • Meyer has written books that have gotten awards such as an ABA Pick of the Lists, a NCSS-CBC Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, two ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a New York Times bestseller, a NYPL Best Book for the Teen Age, and an IRA Young Adults' Choice.

  • Beauty's Daughter was published October 8th 2013 by HMH Books for Young Readers

Quotes

When Hermione talks about herself she says "I didn’t resemble my mother in any of the important ways. I was my father’s daughter, from copper red hair to skin darkened and freckled by the sun and eyes as black as olives. Like [my father], I was thin, and as my mother had pointed out entirely lacking in shapeliness” (10).

  • This shows that Hermione did not consider herself to be beautiful because she did not look like her mother. It also shows that her mother was very vain and condescending toward her daughter.
When Helen sees Hermione for the first time after ten years she asked “Hermione?” with a little smile. “[Hermione] expected her to weep, to show some feeling—joy sorrow, some kind of emotion—but she didn’t. [Hermione] could tell that [Helen] wasn’t sure she recognized [her]…She touched [Hermione’s] cheek lightly with her fingertips. ‘I’m so happy to see you,’ she said… [Hermione] swallowed [her] disappointment. [She] had hoped for so much more” (159).
  • This passage shows a lot about Helen; Hermione had hoped against all odds that maybe Prince Paris had kidnapped her during the night but the way Helen looks at her, she knows her mother went willingly. Hermione wanted her mother to be crying and so upset that she had missed out on her daughter growing up but she barley recognizes her and doesn’t really want to get to know her daughter.
When Hermione went to go see the oracle “the crowds at Delphi were dense and impatient…[she] joined the long column that crawled slowly toward Apollo’s shrine, the altar for sacrifices, and the place beyond it where the oracle sat...more suppliants had joined the line behind [her]. An old couple seeking advice about suitable husbands for their four daughters had come to Delphi in the past when their four sons were seeking wives” (233).
  • The lengths Hermione is going to in order to find out about her lover are extreme. She trusts this fortune-teller enough to have them guide her to the ends of the world. It is obvious that many others trust her on anything from monetary to family matters and that people come from all over and wait for extended periods of time just for a riddle that they have to sift through to find the answers. Superstitious people will believe anything as long as someone else swears by it.

Plot

In the beginning Hermione is only ten years old, daughter to Menelaus and Helen of Troy, said to be the most beautiful person in the whole world. It explains how Helen was born and how she came to be married to Menelaus. Helen was vain and impulsive and so when Prince Paris of Sparta comes to visit she’s entranced by him and runs away with him, leaving Hermione hurt and confused. Her father wages war against Sparta and takes a thousand ships to bring his wife back. Before they set off an oracle predicts that the war will end in its tenth year. Hermione stows away on one of the ships and is not treated like a princess again until the ship reaches Sparta and she finds her father again. There are many fierce battles, some between the Trojans over treasure and rights. After the fights people are concerned only with revenge and getting even. There amidst the fighting she finds her cousin Orestes and falls in love with him. They vow to be married when the war is over. The climax is when Hermione’s father tells her that he has promised her to Pyrrhus, Achilles’ son. Hermione hates Pyrrhus because while he was handsome he was arrogant, smarmy, violent, and disloyal. While she attempts to adjust to her new life, married to a man she hates, she hears that Orestes’ mother killed his father and in turn Orestes killed his mother. Matricide was punished harshly in those times and so Orestes was exiled. She also heard that he was terrorized by the Furies, creatures of Fate who punish heinous crimes, and he had lost his mind. Once Hermione hears of this she runs from Pyrrhus with one of her servants and an old childhood friend. They go all the way from their hometown, following gossip they hear and news from family trying to find Orestes. Eventually they find their way to Athens with the help of Hermes, the messenger god and helper of travelers. There they find Orestes but he does not remember Hermione as the woman he once loved. Eventually Orestes regains his memory and the two get married and live together happily.

Interesting Details & Historical Facts


  • Hermione is mentioned in very few Greek myths.
  • It shows Helen from a different perspective other than “the most beautiful woman in the world”
  • Beauty's Daughter incorporates many other Greek myths from the time period such as Ajax and Achilles.
  • Many, almost all, of the men in this book had ‘concubines’ and that just showed how acceptable a practice like that was in ancient times.
  • Accompanied by her servant and childhood friend, Hermione traveled all the way to Delphi to see the Oracle, showing how superstitious people were.
  • All of the god’s personalities are shown in which side they take in the war.

A Review

I feel like this book gives a fresh take on old stories. Hermione is a very interesting and dynamic character who is loyal, adventurous and courageous. In the beginning she is weighed down with self-doubt from being overshadowed by her mother but as the book progresses she learns to be truly content with who she is meant to be and follows her own destiny. This is a story about a child growing up and finding their own way in the world, which many young adults can relate to. This book has many twists and turns, all of them more convoluted and heart wrenching than the last. Although it is a story that has been told a million times, this book keeps you guessing.