Title: Gods Behaving Badly
Author: Marie Philips
Publisher: Jonathon Cape
Published in Hardback: 02 August 2007
I hardly know where to start with this stunning debut so let’s start with the illustration. The dust jacket, endpapers and the first few pages all contain wonderful illustrations by Suzanne Dean. They really set the tone for this book. She’s reimaged the art of Ancient Greece for a modern age, which is exactly what Marie Philips does in Gods Behaving Badly.
The Gods of Olympus have been living in North London for the last few hundred years. It’s not easy being a God. Their house is overcrowded and in need of a lot of TLC. They have modern-day jobs (Artemis, Goddess of Hunting/Professional Dog-Walker; Apollo, God of the Sun/TV Psychic; Dionysus, God of Wine/Night Club Manager) and even then they are struggling to make end meet. This is all until they employ a cleaner and that’s when things so wrong.
There is much to admire about GBB. It’s funny for a start. I mean laugh out loud funny though the first time was out of shock so it might have been more of a giggle. It’s clever. Marie has really thought out the storyline. There are so many links and parallels that it leaves wonderful ‘oh’ and ‘ah’ moments. It’s sweet. The characters of Alice and Neil are just the right mortals to show up how ‘bad’ some of the Gods are. There is more but I don’t want to spoil it.
I really can’t think of anything I didn’t like about it. It was a wonderful easy read that managed to be both entertaining and thought provoking. The characters are wonderfully imagined, though I would have liked to have seen a bit more of a few of the Gods as there was so much more I wanted to know about them.
I’d love to see if Marie can manage a sequel – she’s created a wonderful cast and there are so many Greek myths she could draw on. If not I’m looking forward to what she writes next.
This is going to take some beating for Gav’s ‘Entertaining Read of the Year’.