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Gods Behaving Badly:
A Novel

by Marie Phillips
Tom Sellwood, Narrator

      In present day London, the Greek gods and goddesses Artemis, Apollo, Aphrodite, Hermes, Zeus, and Ares find themselves living in a decaying townhouse. Their powers are waning. They've begun to think they might not be immortal after all, though they've lived for thousands of years.

They're bored, have trouble making a living, and are really, really annoyed that no one recognizes them anymore.

Artemis is a dog walker, and at the beginning of the book she comes across a tree that used to be a young Australian woman who refused Apollo's crude advances. (Apparently his idea of a good opening line is, "How about giving me a good blow job?")

Artemis is incensed at Apollo for two reasons - 1) he's wasting his powers, and 2) he's hurting mortals. So she makes him swear by the River Styx that he won't hurt another mortal for a decade.

Then Apollo gets the opportunity to do a trial television show. He's going to "foretell" the future. As if he's not already insufferable enough, now he's going to be on television, and Aphrodite for one is fed up.

So she arranges for Eros (her son) to shoot him with an arrow while his show is being taped so that he will fall in love with the first mortal his eyes fall upon.

Unfortunately that mortal is a young woman name Alice who's a cleaner at the television studio. She's taken Neil, a young engineer, to the studio with her as a surprise for him. He loves fake psychics and such, and she wants to do something special for him.

Then Alice gets fired for having sneaked Neil into the audience, and so she has to go out looking for work. Artemis hires her to be the cleaner at their house. Apollo sees her there, and tries his best to woo her.

But Alice's heart belongs to Neil, though she's not had the courage to tell him yet.

When she refuses Apollo's attentions, he sets about to make sure that she is killed. And since he can't do it himself, he manipulates Zeus into doing it for him.

Thus Artemis finds herself trying to find a "hero" who can set things right. Good cleaners are hard to find, after all.

The book is very amusing, and full of delightful satire on the world today. Poor Artemis is the goddess of chastity and hunting, neither very popular anymore. Aphrodite is reduced to working as a phone sex operator, and Zeus is frail and quite mad. Only Ares seems to be doing pretty well, because, after all, war and violence never really seem to go out of vogue.

How a hero is found and Alice returned, and the world is saved from destruction (because once again Apollo does something in a snit that sets off a chain of disasters), is entertaining and cleverly written.

The narrator, Tom Sellwood, is really quite outstanding, and you forget that you’re listening to just one person. The voices are consistent by character, and varied enough to be quickly recognizable from one another. It's truly an outstanding audiobook.

My only complaint is - ABRIDGED! Why? I wanted the whole thing because I wanted more of this truly lovely experience.

The Book

Hachette Audio
December 10, 2007
Abridged audiobook, 5 CDs / 6 hrs.
1600240720 / 978-1600240720
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The Reviewer

Sarah Bewley
Reviewed 2008
© 2008