Author: Annabel Lyon

ISBN: 978-0307593993

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

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I first caught wind of Annabel Lyon’s Golden Mean: A Novel of Aristotle and Alexander the Great while in school, chasing my elusive undergraduate degree in philosophy. An admirer of the great Greek thinker, and a follower of Aristotle’s theory of the golden mean, my ears perked and my attention piqued. I couldn’t wait to get myself elbows deep in Lyon’s narrative.

 Given the opportunity to review the book, I became Charlie Bucket clenching the final golden ticket. I typically caution readers from anticipating a new read so anxiously, but, sometimes, one can’t help his self.

 Owing to Annabel Lyon’s skill with the pen and familiarity with the subject, I was not disappointed.

She captured Aristotle’s voice so gracefully I sometimes thought I was reading a memoir rather than a work of fiction.

As the subtitle suggests, The Golden Mean’s focal point is the relationship between Aristotle, the tutor, and Alexander, the pupil. However, the setting shifts from an adult Aristotle living and teaching in Macedon to reminiscences of a young Aristotle learning the duties of his father’s profession while sharpening his skills in critical thought and observation. The way the narrative slides from past to present and back again gives the story a sense of fullness—the reader never feels the story becoming flat and one-dimensional.

What’s more is Lyon uses the story of Aristotle and Alexander to explore one of Aristotle’s most well defined ideas: that of the golden mean. The concept of the golden mean (the virtuous balance between opposite extremes) is exposed and explained with comprehensiveness and brevity during one of Alexander’s lessons, and then the idea is woven into comparisons between characters, locations, and stages of life.

Throughout the story, the character of Aristotle the thinker is pitted against the character of King Philip. The high culture of Athens is compared to the warrior lifestyle of Macedon. Aristotle’s first wife Pythias is contrasted with his second wife Herpyllis. The promising Alexander is measured against his handicapped brother Arridaeus. Aristotle must find balance between episodes of mania and melancholy.

Now don’t get me wrong: The Golden Mean isn’t all pomp and philosophy—not by any means. The comparisons within the book are so well intertwined into the narrative the reader may need a microscope and a well-rested eye to uncover them all.

Along with food for thought, The Golden Mean is filled with charming dialogue, colorful and dynamic characters, lush description, moments of deep sadness, love, sex, humor (often dark), and so much more, giving the book the chops to appeal to nearly any reader looking for a rich read.

 To put this plainly: Read The Golden Mean; you’ll thank me.

Click Here To Purchase The Golden Mean