Cupid: A Tale of Love and Desire

Cupid: A Tale of Love and Desire

by Julius Lester

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This is the story of Cupid--the god responsible for heartache, sleepless nights, and all those silly love songs—finally getting his comeuppance. When the god of love falls in love himself, things are bound to get interesting. And when he crosses his mama, Venus, in the process . . . Well, things could get downright messy.

The much-lauded author of Pharaoh's Daughter and When Dad Killed Mom brings his renowned storytelling skills to one of the world's most famous tales. In doing so he weaves a romantic, hilarious drama brought to life with a bold new voice that's loaded with sly wisdom. Julius Lester's retelling is sure to draw new readers to classic mythology while satisfying old fans as well.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547607450
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 01/01/2007
Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 208
File size: 1 MB
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About the Author

JULIUS LESTER is the author of more than twenty books for young readers. He writes and teaches in western Massachusetts.

Read an Excerpt

Introducing Psyche

A long time ago, when Time was still winding its watch and Sun was trying to figure out which way was east and which was west, there was a king and queen. I don’t know what country they were king and queen of. That information was not in the story when it came down to me. Sometimes, stories don’t understand; what may not be important to them is very important to us.
   Now, I’m sure there are people who can tell this particular story without having a name for the kingdom this king and queen ruled. Jupiter bless them. I guess I’m not that good of a storyteller, because I need a name for the kingdom. I asked the story if it would mind my giving the place a name. It didn’t see any harm in it, so I am going to call it the Kingdom-by-the-Great-Blue-Sea.
   The story also does not have names for the king and queen. I know they had names, but nobody would say to them, “What’s up, Chuck?” or say, “Looky here, Liz,” if those happened to be their names. I am in agreement with the story this time. If nobody could use their names, there is no need to have them in the story. As for what the king and queen called each other, they were probably like any other married couple and he called her “Honey” and “Sweetheart,” and she called him “Good Lips” and things like that, which we don’t need to pursue any further.
   The king and queen had three daughters. I know what you are thinking: the daughters didn’t have names, either. That is partly true. Two of the girls were name-naked. I’m not even into the story yet and already we have four people that the Internal Revenue Service could not send a letter to.
   Well, the daughters need names. The story is content to call them the “elder sister” and the “younger sister.” That is not good enough for me. The two sisters have to have names. I was thinking about having a contest to pick their names, but the story would probably get tired of waiting for all the votes to be counted, catch a bus, and go to somebody else to get told and that person would not tell the story the way it should be told, which is how I am going to tell it. So, I’ll name them myself. I’ll call one Thomasina, after a girl I had a lot of lust for in high school who wasn’t lusting after me (bet she’s sorry now), and I’ll call the other one Calla. I have no idea if there is such a name, but it sounds like it belongs in the story.
   Thomasina and Calla were the two older girls and they were very beautiful. Both had long, pale yellow hair that came down to their waists. They would get up early every morning and sit in chairs on the balcony outside their room, and two serving girls would brush the morning sunlight into their hair. They would have been the most beautiful young women in the land if not for someone else—their younger sister.
   Her name was Psyche, which is pronounced sigh-key, and it means “soul.” It also means “butterfly.” Maybe that’s what the soul is like—fragile, colorful, and beautiful like a butterfly, and maybe Psyche was so beautiful because people could see her soul in her face.
   I tried to write something that would give you an idea of how beautiful she was, but the letters of the alphabet got so confused and jumbled up trying to arrange themselves into words to describe someone for whom there were no words, they ended up crying in frustration. I hate trying to make words out of letters that have been crying and are so wet they can’t stay on the page. Later on in the story, after the letters dry off, I’ll try again to arrange them into enough words so you’ll have some idea of what Psyche looked like. For now, you’ll just have to believe me when I say she was the most beautiful woman in the world.
   The people of the kingdom said Psyche had to be a goddess because she was even more beautiful than Venus, the goddess of love, who until now had been the most beautiful woman in creation.
   The news of Psyche’s beauty spread all over the world. Soon, people came to see Psyche from everywhere—Rome, Rumania; Lagos, Latvia; Moscow, Mississippi; Green Bay, Ghana; Paris, Poland; and Zurich, Zimbabwe.
   Every day around the time people’s shadows snuck beneath their feet to get out of the sun, the tall wooden doors to the palace grounds swung open, and Psyche came out to take her daily walk. Men, women, children, and all the creatures stopped what they were doing to look at her. Birds flying by would see Psyche, stop flapping their wings, and fall to the ground. Ants would be toting crumbs which, to them, were as big as China. They could not see anything of Psyche except a sixteenth of an inch of her big toenail, but that was enough for them to be so overcome by her beauty that they dropped their crumbs and just stared.
   Psyche walked along the road that led from the palace to the outskirts of the largest village, which wasn’t far, and then she walked back and the palace doors would close behind her. But, for the rest of the day, not much got done in the kingdom because everybody and every creature was thinking about Psyche. Cows didn’t make milk; sheep didn’t grow wool; hens forgot to lay eggs. The butcher didn’t slaughter animals; the baker’s bread and cakes burned in the oven; and the candlestick-maker was in too much of a daze to dip his wicks in tallow.
   Well, this was not good for the economy. The economy went into a recession, then a depression, and finally, went into a cul-de-sac, which is different from a paper sack and a gunnysack and a sad sack as well as a sack on the quarterback.
   The king had to do something or the economy was going to collapse. He thought the matter over and decided that if Psyche went for a walk only one afternoon each month, the economy would be all right.
   “I don’t appreciate your deciding what I can do and when I can do it,” Psyche told her father.
   “The economy is more important than your happiness,” the king replied.
   That tells you right there what kind of king he was! Who in his right mind would make the economy more important than a person’s well-being? But he was the king, and what he said was the way things had to be. He must have been asleep the day in kinging school when the teacher talked about the law of supply and demand. When the supply of something diminishes and the demand for it goes up, it is going to cost more. The king was about to pay a very high price, because the demand to see Psyche was about to destroy the kingdom. The birds and the insects carried word of the king’s decree to the farthest ends of the four directions, which happened to be ten thousand miles on the other side of next week. Everybody and everything went into a panic because nobody knew anymore what day or time Psyche would take her walk. There was only one way anybody could be sure of seeing her. People in other kingdoms started calling in sick to work. I know they didn’t have telephones back in those days. When I say they called in sick, I mean they stuck their heads out the door of their houses and yelled, “I got the flu in my eyetooth and can’t come to work!” Then they moved to the Kingdom-by-the-Great-Blue-Sea so they could be there whenever Psyche took her walk.
   Before long the kingdom was overrun with all kinds of people who did not speak the language, did not know the customs, and, furthermore, did not care. All they wanted was to see Psyche. So many people moved to the kingdom, a lot of stress was put on the infrastructure, which is another way of saying that there weren’t enough bathrooms and toilet paper for everybody. The king solved that problem in a hurry, though exactly how is not in the story. But I can tell you this much: Shondie the shovel-maker and Tyrone the toilet-paper-maker became very wealthy men in a short period of time.
   But, even after the infrastructure got its infra restructured, the king and queen still had a problem. And that was Psyche.

Copyright © 2007 by Julius Lester
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Cupid: A Tale of Love and Desire 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Everybody knows who Cupid is, right? He's the chubby little guy in diapers, who shoots people with arrows and makes them fall in love. Or at least that's how we picture him. I assume he probably wore diapers at some point, but this isn't that story. If you've ever read or studied any mythology, you know that gods were believed to be a lot like people. They made mistakes, broke the rules, did stupid things, and weren't always nice. This IS that story.

Though he is the title character, this story doesn't start with him. It all begins with a beautiful girl named Psyche. Actually, she's more than beautiful. Words don't exist to describe her beauty. Ask the letters, because they tried. Psyche is so amazing to behold that all of the people in the kingdom stop what they're doing to catch a glimpse of her on her afternoon walk. Her father, the king, fearing the economic failure of his country, limits her walks. As with most of the best laid plans, this one backfires. People quit working entirely to hang out by the castle waiting for the next time Psyche leaves. Then people from other kingdoms start to relocate, all to see this incredible creature.

Now normally the affairs of humans don't interest the gods. However, Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, gets a little feisty when her temples are being neglected. When she finds out that there is a human who is possibly more beautiful than she is and is stealing her attention... Let's just say the goddess of love is not immune to jealousy. And, being a goddess, she is in a position to cause some trouble. Enter Cupid, son of Venus, sent down to stir up some trouble.

Cupid has never been in love. Cupid gets entertainment by making unlikely people fall in love, by making happy couples fall into hate, making people fall in love with people who are already in love with other people, and sometimes making people fall in love with things that aren't people at all. Cupid's really not all that great of a guy sometimes. Venus sends him to earth to take care of Psyche. Except Cupid falls in love with Psyche. That's when the real trouble starts.

This is a great story, and worth being retold in any case. This particular retelling had me laughing hysterically. The Story and the Narrator are constantly disagreeing over which points are important enough to include in the tale. They discuss and fight at random intervals, until the Story gets involved in hearing the Narrarator's version of itself. It's hilarious!

If mythology had been available in this form when I was studying it, I definitely wouldn't have gotten a "D."
sheryl_ken More than 1 year ago
This book, Cupid, is very interesting. It's about the god of love falling in love. Cupid never knew love until he met Psyche. Like all relationships, Cupid and Psyche had a lot of work ahead of them to make it last. I won't spoil it for you, so you'll have to read this book for yourself.

Now, this book is great in the fact that it gives a different view on how the relationship bloomed. "Cupid" also has a bit of an "author's touch", considering the fact that he gives little opinions throughout the story. It's very humorous, and gives the story some personality. There are acts of heroism and a romantic flavor for the passionate type of reader.

What could be a downside of the book, is if you really don't like some of the author's interuptions. He talks about how the story wants to be told for the most part. No offense to Julius Lester, but some people probably don't like interuptions. Also, if you don't like a stories of mythology, this book might not be for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cupid's the god of love. He flys around shooting people with his arrows to fall in love or out of love but, mostly out of love.Never in his life has Cupid ever experienced LOVE.Well, until he meets Psyche. Psyche is a mortal whom is known over the lands for her beauty. She is also mistaken or known to be more beautiful than Venus (Cupid's mother, The Goddess of Love). She despises Psyche for being beautiful than she is. Venus asks her son for a BIG favor. She asked Cupid to go to Psyche and make her fall in love with a beast. Cupid not knowing who she was agreed. Until he saw Psyche, he never felt this feeling until he saw her, and he realized he fell in love with her. He wanted to be with her, he would do anything and everything to have her. So he convinces Apollo (The God of The Future) to help him. He tells Psyche's father that she will be married to a beast. Psyche gets scared, and on her wedding day she has to climb up a mountain. She waits there a day and a Wind picks her up and takes her to her new home as Cupid's wife. They are married and Cupid tells Psyche to never get curious to see his face, she promises. He comes to her every night and they make love, and he leaves before dawn breaks. One night Psyche got curious to see whom she is married to. She lights a lamp and reveal the God's face. He awakes and leaves her.Psyche realized how much she loves this man, and would do anything and everything, impossible, and possible for him. This is an incredible book to read if you are into romance. The have many great turning points, which keeps you interested.You must read it! The author writes his thought between the lines in the book which is interesting way to write a book. On a scale 1 to 10 i would rate this book a 7.
pocketmermaid on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved every second of this book. I have always loved the myth of Cupid & Psyche, and I loved the narrator's flair for story-telling. He had a very understated poetic method of telling the story, that seemed like an old-fashioned trick to keep the listener enthralled. It was very effective and entertaining. I loved the way other myths were blended into Cupid and Psyche's story to explain the other gods. Both well-known myths as well as lesser-known gods were mentioned and given life in this story. Even the sun and moon and all four winds were given parts and personalities.If I were to make one complaint is that the title of the book is CUPID, and not CUPID AND PSYCHE. It's her story as much as his. Minor quibble, but I did feel like an injustice was done (however small it may be!)As the story progressed I noticed some parallels between elements of this story to some well-known (and more recent - compared to this ancient myth) fairy tales, which I thought was interesting. The goddess Venus's jealousy of Psyche's beauty parallels Snow White and the queen. Psyche being taken away and cut off from civilization is similar to Rapunzel's isolation. Psyche's two evil older sisters remind me of Cinderella's step-sisters. Psyche being beautiful and told that Cupid is a hideous monster (and the two of them falling in love anyway) has seeds of Beauty & the Beast. Psyche's sisters persuading her to stab her husband with a knife are reminiscent of The Little Mermaid's sisters convincing her to do the same with the prince she's in love with. Venus demanding that Psyche sort grains before the sun goes down is similar to the princess that was given the impossible task of spinning straw into gold like in Rumplestiltskin.Cupid and Psyche have the quintessential fairy tale, and I love it. Specific to this particular retelling, I loved the narrator's quirky personal anecdotes. Which, in my opinion, gave the story more flair and depth and made this an extremely enjoyable experience.
knielsen83 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A less than original telling of Psyche and Cupid, this had an interesting narrator's voice that, at times, was annoying and at others worth listening to. It really wasn't much more than the basic tale of Cupid and Psyche's love coupled with Venus' wrath how they thwarted her.
snat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This young adult novel tells the love story of Cupid and Psyche from a modern perspective--the story remains the same, but the narrator has a decidedly modern voice. It's cute and, all in all, just okay.
MrsHillReads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had a student recommend this book to me and I thought I would like it....but I didn't. The narrator irritated me...just get on with the story! I think the whole problem is that I thought the narrator was full of himself and I just didn't like him! I enjoyed the plot, but it wasn't enough to overcome my aversion to the narrator.
kpickett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Psyche is the most beautiful girl in the kingdom by the sea. Even more beautiful, some say, than the goddess Venus. When Venus gets wind of these rumors, she sends her son Cupid to destroy the presumptuous girl. But Cupid does just the opposite, and falls in love with the beaufiul princess. After Cupid and Psyche are married, Venus finds out and makes Psyche pass several impossible tasks in a thinly veiled attempt to kill her.The writing style is interesting in this narrorated story, where the storyteller has many comments to add to the story. Does involve sex and some vivid descriptions.
elizardkwik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A retelling of the story of the gods and goddesses of mythology, this book is hindered by the author's use of "the story" as a sideline character. References to the author's own life do not contribute anything of value to the story. Overall, it would have been better if the author had stuck to making this a Southern retelling of the mythology.
stephxsu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The likable storyteller, with his countless side stories and wise commentary, delivers to readers the delightful Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche. Psyche is the most beautiful mortal girl alive, and people often liken her to Venus, Goddess of Love. Some even claim that the mortal girl is more beautiful than the goddess herself!Vain Venus obviously doesn¿t like the attention Psyche is getting. She orders her son, Cupid, to make Psyche fall in love with something really stupid, like a boulder, so that she will be humiliated. In the process of attempting to carry out this task, Cupid is so struck by Psyche¿s beauty that he wants to share his life with her.Psyche¿s father receives the prophecy that Psyche is to marry a powerful monster. Psyche is transported to a gorgeous castle far away on a mountain, where every night her ¿husband¿ comes to her, then leaves in the morning. Their love is exquisite, but Psyche would certainly like to know who, exactly, her husband is.It is Psyche¿s curiosity, mixed with the jealousy of some women surrounding Psyche and Cupid, that causes her future struggles, as powerful forces attempt to separate the happy couple. At the very end, Psyche must rely on her inner strength and love for her husband in order to be reunited with him forever.CUPID is a masterful retelling of a touching love story. Julius Lester is a wise author who combines wit with wisdom in this tale that is sure to delight readers of all ages.
millett23 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved the story telling of this book. The story was a good one. I did feel like the ending was a little abrupt. I did feel like Venus was a little over-the-top, but in a good way. I did feel like sometimes when the story got off track and would describe other things it was a little annoying, but for the most part it was funny.
raizel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I can hear Julius Lester's voice in this retelling of the Cupid and Psyche story. He spends a lot of time talking about how one tells a story and his personal experiences about love; a good thing, in my opinion. Sharing his failures and successes in romance is helpful for teens experiencing their first loves, apparently his target audience. There are jealous sisters who want Psyche to suffer, tasks that Psyche must perform to win back her true love, temptation (to see what Cupid looks like) that Psyche cannot resist. So, references to Pandora's Box and eating the apple in the Garden of Eden, and the sisters of Cinderella and Beauty in "Beauty and the Beast." And, finally, a serious, adult list of sources (books, articles and Internet) after the story.
hezann73 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this tongue in cheek retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth. I laughed out loud during parts of it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey. Im lindsay &i need advice. I like this boy &he wants a relationship BUT he dumped his old gf right before prom. So should i follow my heaart or not?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i like this guy we met earler tonight he sounds cute from what he told me he is sweet but im 13 and he is 15;* HELP
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do you need love advice. I am a girl so yah at nomi bird al res.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im blonde blue eyes. B cup but large and tight azz. Long tan legs and a cute button nose. Wanna talk dirty or rp go to vampire diaries res 7 ask for Candy(me). Hope to c u there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok thanks &hearts
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thank you... Maybe one will acually like me. The problem is they both and Mason are like my only friends. I'm being bullied alot. Three girls ar like most completely excluding me. Becky is the worst and it just so upsets me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whats your problem? ~ Ms. Cupid &hearts
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I know this may sound like a stupid question, but whats a valentine? Like, as in the person. No one really ever told me... xP
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rona Campbell More than 1 year ago
I love this book! It's a great twist on greek mythology an it is a sweet and funny love story. It is also beautifuly written! Read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A poorly written retelling of Greek mythology. The writing style borders on the childish, while the author throws around stereotypes about women that seem more appropriate to the 1950s than a modern book. If you are interested in Cupid and Psyche's story, find another book to read.