The Greek Treasure: A biographical novel

The Greek Treasure is biographical novel* by the 20th century’s master of that form, Irving Stone, whose books on Freud, Michelangelo, and Mary Todd Lincoln were top-10 bestsellers.

Photo of circular stone on The Greek Treasuredustjacket
The Greek Treasure lies under a dull lid.

In Greek Treasure, Stone tackles a less familiar subject: 19th century amateur archaeologists Heinrich and Sophia Schliemann.

Sophia has just graduated high school in Athens when her Uncle Vimpos recommends her as wife to a divorced, self-made millionaire twice her age.

Henry Schliemann says he wants a poor but well-educated woman who loves Homer and will assist him in digging with pick and shovel to prove that Homer’s Troy was a real place.

Sophia is young, flattered, and willing to marry her family’s choice, sure she will learn to love him after they’re married.

Greek Treasure suffers from the perennial problems of Stone’s extensively-researched novels: Much of the source material is dry-as-dust.

Readers get very few glimpses into the inner lives of the characters that little comes mainly from self-edited documents.

Stone is a skillful writer, but this particular book is probably not one that will attract many 21st century readers. Baby Boomers were the last generation to know where the Dardanelles are, and millennials know Homer only as a character on The Simpsons.

The Greek Treasure by Irving Stone
A Biographical Novel of Henry and Sophia Schliemann
Doubleday [1975] Book Club Edition 470 p.
1975 bestseller #7. My grade: B

*Stone used the term “bio-histories” instead of the publishers’ term “biographical novels.”

© 2018 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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