REVIEW: “Winter Flowers” by Alessia Galatini

Review of Alessia Galatini, “Winter Flowers”, Luna Station Quarterly 35 (2018): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I love new tellings of old stories, and even more when the retelling makes the story itself become now. “Winter Flowers” is the story of Demeter and Persephone, not just transposed into the 20th century, but reincarnated. For Demeter and Persephone are goddesses, never dying; why should their stories be limited to ancient Greece?

The story is in four parts, one for each of the seasons, two for Demeter, two for Persephone. It’s San Francisco in the summer of 1967, and Persephone has returned to Demeter to enjoy summer, while Hades is busy in Vietnam, for “somebody has to take care of the bodies in Vietnam”. But it’s also the fall of 1929, and depression has hit, spiralling towards sadness and darkness. And it’s winter of 1943, in the bleakness of Auschwitz; there cannot be any better symbol of death than that. And then it is spring again, at the turn of a millennia, and Demeter and Persephone return to the Greece they once knew, where “Staring at the world from the ruins of our old empire, we are back to the gods we once were.”

Neither Demeter’s nor Persephone’s story is an easy one, to tell or retell; but I enjoyed Galatini’s very much.