Circe

35959740“You threw me to the crows but it turns out I prefer them to you.” 

Author: Madeline Miller
Category: Retelling, Mythology, Historical Fiction
Pages: 385
Publication Date: April 10th, 2018

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While reading, I normally try to keep notes of thoughts that I have about the book as I go and those play a large part in later writing a review. With Circe though, I have no notes. I found myself unable to put down the book long enough to write anything down so this review is going to be me flying by the seat of my pants for the most part.

If you couldn’t guess already, I loved it.

Circe is the story of the mythological Greek figure of the same name who played a role in stories such as The Odyssey. Banished from her home in Oceanus among other nymphs and Titans for possessing a power that threatened Zeus’s own, Circe lives in exile on the island Aiaia.

While I am somewhat familiar with Greek mythology, I would not say that I am overly knowledgable so while there were some names that I did not recognize, there were many that I did and Miller gave a whole new breath of life to these ancient characters.

In general, this story is about being a woman. A lover, a sister, a friend, a mother, a caretaker. The story of Madea is one of my favorites and I really liked her place in this story. Her and Jason visit Circe’s island when they are running from Madea’s father, Circe’s brother, and I loved that Circe seemed to see herself in Madea a little bit. Both are women trying desperately to make it in a world that does not at all want women to succeed or be anything other than pretty things or something to be used.

“It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be curshed in a moment’s carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did.”

The style of the book is one that I have complained about in some books before, such as Percy Jackson, where the plot seems to meander around from one plot point to the next with only loose cohesion. Circe was similar to this but I felt like the pacing hit exactly the right notes and Circe herself was an engaging character whose mind I found I could slip into easily, particularly in the parts where she discusses being a mother.

How desperate and how much of a failure she frequently felt like. Obviously, I will probably never have to worry about defending my children from Olympians but the emotional struggle of learning to center your life around someone that may never recognize all that you have done for them, worrying constantly about their health, their needs. It went beyond this though and showed a little bit of the ugly side of motherhood and explored all the frustrations that I think all mothers experience at some point.

Also, Circe’s unwillingness to accept how terrible mortals and immortals could be. The immortals concerned only for what gets them more attention and the mortals’ attention span and gratitude only extending as far as them getting what they want and not a moment beyond. She desperately wanted to believe that people, mortal and immortal alike do things just because they are right but is constantly shown that that is not the case. I really enjoyed her struggle to both come to terms with this but also to not slip down the slope herself to become exactly like the things she hates.

While the prose is a bit dry at times, I found it reminded me more than anything of the mythology that it was retelling and intricately weaving together and therefore hit all the right notes for this retelling. I don’t think it strictly follows Greek mythology canon, particularly the ending, but it was woven together fantastically into a wonderful story that I am happy I did not overlook.

Rating:

9-loved it!

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8 responses

    • Agreed! 😀 And it turned out really well, I honestly did not know much more about her than her name going in so was surprised at how much she ended up being involved in or at least witnessing in greek mythology.

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