three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
33-Mar-Apr-2008
user_rating: 
0

A-Gods Behaving BadlyStuffed into a dilapidated mansion in an unfashionable London neighborhood, 12 of the old familiar Greek gods are facing hard times these days—and, unimaginably, their possible demise. Desperate to retrieve their old powers, the gods have been forced to take "real world" jobs: Aphrodite has become a phone sex worker; Artemis, goddess of the hunt, is reduced to walking dogs for a living; and Dionysus works nights as a DJ. Into this madcap household, a perplexed cleaning lady (mortal) and her Scrabble-obsessed, comic book–collector boyfriend arrive—only to face the challenge of negotiating peace among the battling gods, restoring them to their former glory, and perhaps even saving humankind in the process.
Little, Brown. 293 pages. $23.99. ISBN: 0316067628

Milwaukee Jrnl Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"Especially endearing are moments of desperate confusion worked upon [mortals] Neil and Alice as they divine that they are at the center of unearthly affairs. Perhaps the only weakness this book can be faulted with is too much action. … But that, given the originality of Phillips’ idea, is a minor irritant in an otherwise deeply rewarding read." Vikram Johri

Newsday 4 of 5 Stars
"All this infighting among deities is enchantingly infantile, but Phillips has a more complex clash in store: the most amusing and instructive collision between gods and mortals since A Midsummer Night’s Dream." Kerry Fried

Cleveland Plain Dealer 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Phillips reminds us not only of everything we’ve forgot about Greek mythology, but also of the pleasures of reading, of how wonderful it is to be caught up in a book that makes you both laugh and think—and wonder what’s going to happen next." Steven Hayward

New York Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Gods Behaving Badly is much more fun than it has any right to be." Janet Maslin

Washington Post 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Marie Phillips’s first novel, Gods Behaving Badly, hovers somewhere between Pride and Prejudice and an episode of ‘Bewitched.’ … Phillips has an Olympian sense of absurdity, and there’s enough ambrosial wit here to seduce most mortals for an afternoon or two on the divan." Ron Charles

USA Today 2.5 of 5 Stars
"[Phillips] has a charming comic touch and the laughs are real. … But a high concept this lightweight can only lead to a predictable end, and Phillips’ broad satire doesn’t have the bite necessary to keep the novel’s momentum from stalling along the way." David Daley

Critical Summary

Marie Phillips, a Cambridge graduate, just 30, left her research job at the BBC to work in a bookstore, publish a blog, and write her first novel, Gods Behaving Badly. Reviewers almost unanimously praise Phillips’s daring, high-concept premise and the wit and cleverness with which she recycles mythic tales and gives them a postmodern twist. Occasional complaints about forced, sitcom-worthy humor and reckless, predictable plotting creep into some of the reviews, but most critics send arrows of love her way—with nary a stab to the heart among them.