Tag Archive | Persephone

Primal Scream


I was reading a blog, the subject being Christmas. Unlike most blogs of the season that wish everyone good cheer and talk about the wonder of the holiday, this writing is different. The author feels alienated from Christmas. He can’t wait for it to be over. He believes religion in general, and Christianity in particular, is a power forced on people who don’t want it, something that causes unnecessary divisions between people. He believes that much of the hatred in the world is caused by those who believe their own faith is the only true faith. Perhaps that point of view, hating Christmas and all it stands for, sounds extreme to you.

I recently experienced a bit of the negative power of extremism in religion myself. An author on my writing site left me an email promoting her book about her Christian beliefs. It started out ‘you need to find the ugly truth about your life’ – something to that effect. I froze. I was shocked and scared by it. It sounded so threatening! I was having a bad day anyway; her words to me, a total stranger, literally seized me up with fright. After I regained my breath, I replied back and told her what I thought – that I was threatened and frightened by her words. That telling me I need to change my life, that my life is ugly, did no one any good. That it was harmful and didn’t make me want to read her book either. Us versus them – not good for humanity.

To her credit, she wrote back to apologize. She said she had no idea her message was offensive and that she would revise it for future emails. I know she won’t change her essential belief that I cannot be her equal if I can’t follow her Christian beliefs. I guess I’ll never be saved! At least she found out, though, that I am a real human being with feelings. And I found out she felt badly for upsetting me. But she couldn’t have discovered that if I hadn’t challenged her message. A little communication goes a long way. Makes us realize we are the same in more ways than we are different.

Religious belief, or the lack of it, is a consistently occurring theme in my novel PERSEPHONE IN HELL. Though my main character Glory doesn’t believe in God, she spends a great deal of time thinking about the subject. Glory’s mother Joyce is an atheist, and has passed her belief system on to her daughter. In this passage which happens close to the end of the book, Glory is agonizing about her loneliness and alienation. She desperately wants friends, to make human connections, find happiness. But there is no one left who cares enough to make communication possible. Glory is incredibly alone.

“I don’t have God. I don’t pray to the blue lights, or the cigarette gods, or the god of good fortune, or even to the goddess Persephone who raises the cruel spring.

It isn’t Persephone’s fault the spring brings chaos and disharmony. She ate three of Hades’ pomegranate seeds – big deal. That’s no reason to bind her to hell. That’s no reason to give up on her. Hades is the mean one, the gross and disgusting pig of an underworld god. Persephone isn’t much more than a child, Hades, though she looks adult. She’s just a girl, Hades. Leave Persephone be.”

Underneath every chapter of PERSEPHONE IN HELL is a cry for people to care about each other. It’s a primal scream of the most basic kind. A shout to the heavens to see who might be listening.

Persephone in Hell: a novel by C.F. Joyce

Persephone in Hell by C.F. Joyce, Westport River Publishing August 2014. Find her on amazon. com.Only $2.99 for one of the best e-reads of your life. Or buy it in print paperback for only $14.95 @ PERSEPHONE IN HELL.

Troubled teenage Glory imagines herself a mighty queen, but discovers in her 1968 Massachusetts town that even queens have to watch their heads as savages await. Glory and her family move from Boston city life to rural cow country where people have heard of Jews but never seen a real one. A coming of age tale of a girl who doesn’t understand why her sister won’t talk to her and even Mother Nature seems out to get her. She cries out to the gods for help. But nobody sees her terrible self inflicted wounds. No one is paying attention. In this coming of age debut novel, C.F. Joyce explores the roles that family histories, clashing cultures, and dysfunctions play in the life of a young girl.


Under the working title “Memories of Glory”, the novel won a HarperCollins Top 5 Gold Medal award. Here are some of the reviewer’s comments:

“It is very difficult to approach a ‘coming of age’ story, and write in such a way as to not appear clichéd, but [the author] has made a remarkably strong case. In ‘Memories of Glory’, the journey from childhood to adulthood is dealt with in a unique way; the six children in Glory’s family are used to explore various different facets of growing up. The reader is also able to understand more about the pasts of Glory’s parents and their families, allowing adult tensions to be explored too. A compelling feminist take on life dominates, but the feelings of the important men in Glory’s life are not left uncovered. The memories she recalls do not depict a clear straightforward story, rather each is a part of a puzzle which in the end paints an often brutal but fair conclusion on life…Glory is set up well as a whimsical day-dreamer. She lives in an alter-world, and her intelligence and desire to be elsewhere helps build a strong picture of her imagination. Gradually it becomes clear that the world she fashions for herself is an escape from the harsh life that she has had to lead. As a protagonist she is wonderful; her suffering is a result of both her surroundings and of universal teenage trauma: I found her hugely accessible…The use of dialogue, and the focus on different characters in each recollection, allows the reader to build a strong concept of each family member, and their relationships with one another. This is a vibrant read, and no connection is left unexplored. Friendship, as well as sibling rivalry, is beautifully drawn out…The author clearly has a gift for wit and charm, illustrated in the passage where the family go blueberry picking…The role of “Mother Nature”, of fate and fortune, is an interesting theme and one that gives an interesting dimension to the family’s attitude.”