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Anabasis - A Journey to the Interior


A Journey to the Interior

By Ellen Gilchrist
Paperback : 9780878058211, 297 pages, September 1995

Set in ancient Greece, a novel that explores a feisty slave girl’s flight to liberation


"National Book Award winner Gilchrist is best known for fiction depicting modern southern lives (e.g., In the Land of Dreamy Dreams, LJ 10/15/81), but here she departs from that setting dramatically. In her “Author's Note,” Gilchrist explains how as a child, inspired by her mother's renderings of classical history and myth, she first imagined this story of a literate slave girl in ancient Greece. Intelligent and inquiring, Auria is raised as the apprentice of renowned healer-philosopher Philokrates. After his death, the teenager escapes from their villa, taking with her an unwanted baby girl exposed to die, a goat, and a dog. The companions travel into the wild mountains, depending on Auria's skills and bravery for survival. When they join a group of antislavery rebels allied with the dying hero Pericles, Auria finds true love and the self-knowledge to help her withstand tremendous challenges to spirit and body. Gilchrist's youthful enthusiasm for her heroine is evident throughout this appealing short novel, which should interest both adult and young adult readers. Recommended for public library fiction collections."

- Starr E. Smith, Library Journal

"National Book Award winner Gilchrist (Victory over Japan; Star Carbon) lifts her literary gaze from the exploits of the Hand family to produce this richly textured but overly idealized historical novel. During the Peloponnesian War (431–404 B.C.) between Athens and Sparta, Auria, a runaway slave girl, transforms herself into a warrior, healer, lyceum teacher, painter, ceramist, poet, songwriter and fiercely loving adoptive mother of an infant girl whom she rescues from a cave. Escaping her callous master, Auria teams up with a band of exiles and runaway slaves plotting rebellion in a mountain fortress, where she eventually marries Pericles's grandnephew Meion. . . . Gilchrist ably evokes a Greece roiled by war, plagues, and injustice as she touches on such themes as women's sexual and social subservience."

- Publishers Weekly