12 Oct 2019

Review - Circe by Madeline Miller

Title: Circe

Author: Madeline Miller


In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe's place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.

There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe's independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

My Thoughts: 

I was looking forward to this novel immensely, given that The Song of Achilles is one of my favourite historical fictions dealing with Greek ancient history, and for the same reason I was a bit afraid before picking Crice up, because with TSOA Madeline Miller put the bar very high up, even for herself. 

Now, having read Crice I can say it was differently good than TSOA, but good none the less as far as I'm concerned, it is indisputable that Madeline Miller is one of the most talented writers of our time.

I can call myself lucky, because I read most of the book on our honeymoon in Malta, and that country provided a perfect real life background setting for the story (second best to what Greece would have offered). After all Gozo is said to have been Calypso's island (not Circe's but close enough...)

Now about the book itself: it is about us. It is about being human, it convinces the reader that life is beautiful, because it has a beginning and an end and because there are so many vivid experiences in between. It is short, but all the more precious for being so. Mortality is an interesting subject for a tale that has a goddess as it's protagonist, but once you start reading you realize that's Circe's relationship with mortals form her to what she becomes by the end of the book. It is quite a journey.

Circe is a strong feminist read as well, reintroducing some well-known, often controversial, female characters from Greek mythology and giving a certain twist to each of them. Pasiphaë, Medeia, Penelope, Scylla, we can learn something new about all of them, getting to know them in a different light.

I enjoyed learning what happened to Odysseus after he killed the suitors and reunited with Penelope and Telemachus too, since I've never read anywhere else about that. Let me just say, this novel doesn't champion Odyssesus at all, which fact gives it a unique aspect.

I definitely recommend Circe to all Greek mythology/history lovers, so sail out, but beware of the sea monsters!

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