Historical--especially classical--fiction seems to be Mary Renault's forte in writing and in "The Praise Singer" she once again steps into a favorite setting--ancient Greece.
She tells us the story of Simonides, a poet in the Golden Age of Athens. She begins in Sicily where Simonides finds Kleobis the bard and together they travel to Samos, where they enjoy the riches of this island. Kleobis dies and Simonides returns to Athens, which is in a turmoil due to the antics of the Tyrants. Simonides survives these "trials" and then returnsto Sicily to recount his long, poetical, and eventful life. Renault's writing shows a special gift as she brings to life in fictional form episodes from this period of time.
This report prepared by Bill Hobbs