BookBanter Episode 30 with Katharine Beutner



Katharine Beutner’s first novel, Alcestis, is set in Mycenaean Greece. Alcestis is a princess from Greek mythology, made popular in the Euripides play of the same name. Alcestis sacrifices herself in place of her husband and is taken to Hades, where she is soon rescued. Beutner gives the reader Alcestis’s viewpoint, what she went through and how she felt. For the full review, click on the book cover below.

Katharine Beutner

In the interview, Beutner talks about why she wanted to write this book, how she got it published, and how much research she took. She also talks about what she’s working on next, what she likes to in her spare time, and if she could live in Mycenaean Greece, would she?


Coming up on June 1st will be a written interview with graphic artist and writer Dash Shaw, and we’ll be talking all about his new graphic novel, Bodyworld, as well as how he became an artist, what he likes to do in his spare time, and what he’s working on now.


We’ve hit a milestone here at BookBanter also, with over 400 book reviews now available. You can find any of the reviews by using the search bar at the top right of this page, or heading over to the Book Reviews page and seeing what the top ten most read reviews are. This also marks the 30th episode of BookBanter. Be sure to check out other interviews, as well as some written interviews also. Finally, there’s also always the BookBanter blog to keep you entertained.

Until next time,

Alex C. Telander.

“Alcestis” by Katharine Beutner (Soho, 2010)


Alcestis is a princess from Greek mythology, popularized in Euripides’s tragedy of the same name.  It is the story of a wife who sacrifices herself in the place of her husband.  Alcestis was the daughter of Pelias, who proclaimed to all her suitors that the only man who could take her hand would be one who could yoke a lion and a boar to a chariot.  King Admetus, who will stop at nothing to marry Alcestis, does just this with the help of the god Apollo.  Fulfilling his promise, Pelias allows Alcestis and Admetus to marry, but Admetus forgets to make a sacrifice to Artemis after the ceremony and they find themselves in a bed full of snakes.  Apollo once again steps in, making the Fates drunk, and extracting a promise that anyone may sacrifice themselves in place of Admetus.  No one volunteers, and then Alcestis steps forward.  Alcestis is taken to Hades and shortly after is rescued by Heracles.

This is the Euripides story.

Katharine Beutner has another story to tell, from the viewpoint of Alcestis, which has never been told before.  In Alcestis, the reader learns what this strong and determined woman was really like, the important sacrifice she made, and what she did to survive and maintain her composure and sanity in Hades before she was rescued.  Beutner doesn’t hold back on description and detail, which is important as many readers will be unfamiliar with this world and setting.  What makes Alcestis such an enchanting story is Beutner’s clear writing style that doesn’t attempt to boggle and overload the reader with Mycenaean Greece, but treating Alcestis like a normal person in a different world, a different time, making it accessible to any reader, while the story is both compelling and interesting.

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Originally written on May 4 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.