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Middlesex    by Jeffrey Eugenides Amazon.com order for
Middlesex
by Jeffrey Eugenides
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

If I were allotted only one word to describe Middlesex, that word would be captivating. Fortunately, I can be more verbose. The story is narrated by Calliope Stephanides, a young girl of uncertain sexuality. Calliope's grandparents emigrated from Greece in 1922 during a Turkish invasion. Although third cousins (and also brother and sister), they married. Thus begins Calliope's odyssey.

Callie's tale wanders from the past to the present day and from one character's point of view to another's. But it never loses the reader in its wandering. Nor did this reader's interest flag. Though a satisfyingly long novel at 529 pages it's still too short. I hated to say goodbye to Callie/Cal. He/she is a finely drawn character. I cried and laughed with her/him. I was bewildered right along with him/her. Callie's/Cal's brother is called 'Chapter Eleven' throughout the book. Don't know why and really didn't care after the first few pages. He is unique, so why not a unique name? A girlfriend is called 'Obscure Object'. The lesser characters arrive complete on the page - for example, Desdemona is an actor in a tragic play.

The perspective on Greek culture fascinated me. I know. I'm easily fascinated. But a glimpse of another culture can help to make sense of the world around you, and put your own culture's quirks and foibles in perspective. I recommend Middlesex to you. A very good book.

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