Gods Behaving Badly – Marie Phillips

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“From Marie Phillips, hailed by the Guardian Unlimited website as a “hot author” destined to “break through” in 2007, comes a highly entertaining novel set in North London, where the Greek gods have been living in obscurity since the seventeenth century.

Being immortal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Life’s hard for a Greek god in the twenty-first century: nobody believes in you any more, even your own family doesn’t respect you, and you’re stuck in a dilapidated hovel in North London with too many siblings and not enough hot water. But for Artemis (goddess of hunting, professional dog walker), Aphrodite (goddess of beauty, telephone sex operator) and Apollo (god of the sun, TV psychic) there’s no way out… until a meek cleaner and her would-be boyfriend come into their lives and turn the world upside down.

Gods Behaving Badly is that rare thing, a charming, funny, utterly original novel that satisfies the head and the heart.”

I’ve always liked stories about Greek deities – I’ve been purposely buying my niece the Goddess Girls books so that one day I can borrow them. Gods Behaving Badly is basically the grown-up version.

At times, I actually laughed (more like snorted) out loud. All of the gods – especially Aphrodite and Apollo – were well-written:  their personalities stayed true to the classic myths, even though it’s set in modern-day London. And the mortal “couple” – Alice and Neil – were believable: it’s not really a spoiler to tell you that at some point they found out that the strange group of people Alice works for are actually gods, and their reactions to it are as realistic as possible.

I have a hard time picking a favourite god: I often consider Athena because she’s the wise one and in this case, her brief appearances made for some funny moments (she uses big words to communicate small ideas and no one else understands her). I’m also going to say that Hermes is my favourite god – no matter what book I read about the gods, he’s always amusing. Also, Eros as a born-again Christian was a touch of genius.

I don’t really have much to say about Gods: it’s more of a “read it and you’ll see why it’s so great” type of book. I can try and explain why I thought it was funny, but it’s hard to describe (the often foul but nonetheless amusing language is definitely a contributing factor to the overall humour). Apparently it’s being made into a movie but since the movie relocates them from London to New York City (I realize it’s a small detail but if it’s so small why couldn’t the film accommodate it?), I’m going to go on a limb and say it’s probably not going to do the book justice.

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