had my doubts about this book, although at the same time I was enticed by it and because of that I nominated it at the Cafe Bookgroup. And then to my surprise, what a fun book! Oh my goodness!
I haven’t usually been big on Greek mythology or stories based on those characters although I did enjoy quite a few, as it turns out – Madeline Miller, John Banville, a few others. (I really tried to read Greek mythology in about 6th grade but there were so many characters with all those interwoven backstories – a bit much.)
So after I got a couple chapters in I felt that some of it was over my head and before going further I thought it might be a good idea to prepare a bit and skimmed the basic story at Theo.com and at Wikipedia. Also, as I read along in the Kindle version, I would touch the names and get a brief introductory background.
by Madeline Miller
2018/ 400 pages
read by Perdita Weeks – 12h 8m
rating: 9.25/ contemp lit (mythology)
But not that much background is necessary – just for the first three or so chapters. Then the story takes off on its own and Miller explains as necessary, generally following Homer’s version and adding to that.
At the outset of the story, Circe is a young girl whose father just happens to be Helios (the sun god) and Perse, a nymph. She has a couple sisters and a brother who also have powers. Circe tries very hard to do as her father bids but one day she meets a fisherman, a mortal, and the tale ensues – or rather, the series of adventures ensues.
Madeline Miller is the author of Song of Achilles – which I wasn’t too happy with but I enjoyed the writing and something about it did stick so when I saw this hyped it kind of sounded okay and I nominated it for a group read at the Cafe – and it got selected as a discussion read for June.
Miller knows her stuff – she studied the classics in college and read them since childhood. She also writes beautifully, lyrically (if I might say so), using original and wonderfully appropriate metaphors – for instance:
“… picking up gossip as hems gather mud.” (Chapter 8)
“He recited the story as if he were giving a recipe for meat.” (Chapter 16)
And although much of the story is rather gruesome, there are many places where it is just heavenly (had to do it) or magical and even rather funny at times.