The official web site of Janette Turner Hospital Janette Turner Hospital

Orpheus Lost


Australian reviews:

It must be a great challenge for an author to take a Greek myth and rewrite it in a modern context.  It must be doubly satisfying, therefore, when the finished story is as good as Janette Turner Hospital's latest book Orpheus Lost.
The first chapter is spellbinding. . . . The magic has begun.
                     –Australian Bookseller and Publisher – starred review; top rating of five stars

[Orpheus Lost] will keep you on the edge of your chair or reading past your bedtime. . . . Turner Hospital has a beautiful lightness of touch through the nightmare contortions of the plot that she spins and twists like a rope of destiny. . . . Orpheus Lost . . . should enthrall every kind of reader; a book full of intelligence and drama and compassion that is also a captivating page-turner.                                                                                             –The Age (Melbourne)

Hospital shows her dazzling skill at thriller writing. [She is] a master-planner who never falters for an instant. Nor do the pace and intensity let up. . . . [A] consummate, nail-biting example of a myth retold for modern times.                                                  Australian Book Review

The story of the musician and classical hero Orpheus, who ventured into the Underworld to retrieve his lost love, Eurydice, is one of the numerous narrative tributaries in Janette Turner Hospital's richly satisfying novel, the crowning achievmement of a three-decade-long career….   In its formal bravura and its challenge to conscience and intellect, Orpheus Lost is one of the finest of recent Australian novels.                                                –Newsweek (Australian edition)

Hospital has become such a master of the drama of fiction [and] has managed to engage with the terrible matter of terrorism in a way that is not only serious but, in the narrative sense, engrossing. . . . [She] is, like Greene and Oates, a serious artist who is also a master of popular form and its transfigurations.                                                                   –Australian Literary Review

"Riveting reading.  Terrorist blasts happen in the novel, but they are noises off…  Hospital is more concerned with intimate violations, with how, in a fearful society, people start to get picked off and disappear…   This superbly gripping novel alerts us to the real cost of terrorism.  Beyond immediate damage and death, we could allow an erosion of freedoms that we take for granted.  The terror of terrorism, Hospital suggests, is causing tectonic shifts beneath our feet.                                                                                             The Weekend Australian

It's a rare creature, the literary page-turner.  To have a plot that crackles with intrigue from the hands of a writer who aims for nothing less than literary brilliance – ah, what a lovely thing.  Australian-born, US-dwelling Janette Turner Hospital is the creator of such fine works.  She set herself an incredibly high standard with her masterful last book, Due Preparations for the Plague, and now follows with Orpheus Lost.                                     Sunday Telegraph

Janette Turner Hospital writes superbly of music, painting soundscapes through the evocative suggestion of words.  In this, her best work since Borderline, which remains for me the perfect novel, she powerfully posits music as a sensitizing, humanizing force, the deliberate repudiation of which results in the uttermost barbarism.                                Adelaide Review

It is not surprising that Turner Hospital has decided to retell the myth of Orpheus as it suits her purposes perfectly.  In The Last Magician (1992), she created a subterranean world of labyrinthine tunnels, stretching from Brisbane to Sydney.  It was a device that allowed her to explore parallel worlds of affluence and deprivation, security and danger, and ignorance and enlightenment.  It was always apparent that the existence of one propped up the other….  Of course there is an underworld in Orpheus Lost too, one even more menacing….  It is the representation of the most sinister aspects of the current global sociopolitical situation that make this an unsettling and important book.                                      Canberra Times

Janette Turner Hospital is a magnificent novelist, imbued with equal parts intellectual breadth and emotional precision….  This is a powerfully intense novel which is far more than the love story of the two antagonists.  Much of it is mediated through music, and Turner Hospital's capacity for drawing us into sensual experience is an enormous gift…  Despite its vast scope and extraordinary circumstances, the novel is uncannily plausible… a novel orchestrated with great complexity, but where the melody is always clear and powerfully engaging.                                                                                              – Australian Jewish News