Gods Behaving Badly is a breezy, humourous novel by Marie Phillips. It depicts the lives of several of the Greek gods, living in squalor and obscurity in London. They are struggling to survive, for the most part, with ever diminishing powers and left only to fight amongst themselves for entertainment.
The gods hold jobs like dog walker, telephone sex operator and bar owner, all related in some way to their traditional realms of power and influence. However, the gods have lost all their power and are generally desperately unhappy. They still regard mortals as insignificant playthings, and when cleaner Alice is used as part of prank played on insufferable Apollo, no one takes it very seriously. However, Alice and her friend Neil inadvertently complicate the lives of the gods so much as to be actually noticed, and it sets off a chain of events that challenges the beliefs of the entire world. This book is written to be light and amusing, and it certainly succeeds for the most part. I found the section describing the transfer of people to the underworld and their existence there sad, particularly the obvious but distressing inclusion of babies.
The cover design is quite striking, with a traditional depiction of Greek gods on with modern elements added in to the background. The characters are not given much backstory, and I think a reader would have to have a basic knowledge of Greek mythology to make the story really meaningful. This is kind of an awful comparison, but Gods Behaving Badly feels like the cliché chick-lit version of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, in a way. It was entertaining enough to inspire me to pick up the book on Greek mythology that has been sitting on my shelf since finishing Anansi Boys, but is best described as an amusing book suitable for easy summer reading.