'They cut her hair before they dragged her to the place of sacrifice. Her mouth was gagged to stop her cursing her father, her cowardly, two-tongued father. Nonetheless, they heard her muffled screams.'
On the day of his daughter's wedding, Agamemnon orders her sacrifice.
His daughter is led to her death, and Agamemnon leads his army into battle, where he is rewarded with glorious victory.
Three years later, he returns home and his murderous action has set the entire family - mother, brother, sister - on a path of intimate violence, as they enter a world of hushed commands and soundless journeys through the palace's dungeons and bedchambers. As his wife seeks his death, his daughter, Electra, is the silent observer to the family's game of innocence while his son, Orestes, is sent into bewildering, frightening exile where survival is far from certain. Out of their desolating loss, Electra and Orestes must find a way to right these wrongs of the past even if it means committing themselves to a terrible, barbarous act.
House of Names is a story of intense longing and shocking betrayal. It is a work of great beauty, and daring, from one of our finest living writers.
Part of Toibin's success comes down to the power of his writing: an almost unfaultable combination of artful restraint and wonderfully observed detail . . . Unforgettable (Mary Beard New York Times)
A giant amongst storytellers, Toibin has thrown down the gauntlet with his latest novel . . . And it is a masterpiece (Edith Hall Daily Telegraph)
A gorgeous stylist, Tóibín captures the subtle flutterings of consciousness better than any writer alive . . . Never before has Tóibín demonstrated such range, not just in tone but in action. He creates the arresting, hushed scenes for which he's so well known just as effectively as he whips up murders that compete, pint for spilled pint, with those immortal Greek playwrights (Washington Post)
Brilliant retelling of a Greek Tragedy... This is a novel that is a celebration of what novels can do. (Alex Preston Observer)
Considerable Game of Thrones appeal...instead of cheap narrative tricks and resolutions we're left with images of desolation and thwarted love (Financial Times)
A devastatingly human story...savage, sordid and hauntingly believable (Guardian)
The book has a controlled hushed quality, like that of a Morandi still life, which only serves to heighten the terror and pity of the tale (John Banville)
Colm Tóibín turns Greek Myths into flesh and blood..The writing is characteristically elegant, spare and subtle. ..The scenes between Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus darkly sexy (The Times)
An extraordinarily sympathetic and intimate portrait (Literary Review)
In Toibin's careful hands, the story of Clytemnestra, who avenges her daughter after her husband Agamemnon sacrifices her to secure safe passage from Troy, is told with such a vivid grasp of the emotional pulse that even those who know the story well will be transfixed. (Claire Allfree Daily Mail)