But in a solitary life,
there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours,
as stars once a year brush the earth.
Such a constellation was he to me.
Circe is the daughter of Helios, the sun god, and Perse, a beautiful naiad. Yet from the moment of her birth, she is an outsider in her father’s halls, where the laughter of gossiping gods resounds. Named after a hawk for her yellow eyes and strange voice, she is mocked by her siblings – until her beloved brother Aeëtes is born.
Yet after her sister Pasiphae marries King Midas of Crete, Aeëtes is whisked away to rule his own island. More isolated than ever, Circe, who has never been divine enough for her family, becomes increasingly drawn to mortals – and when she meets Glaucus, a handsome young fisherman, she is captivated. Yet gods mingle with humans, and meddle with fate, at their peril.
In Circe, Madeline Miller breathes life once more into the ancient world, with the story of an outcast who overcomes scorn and banishment to transform herself into a formidable witch. Unfolding on Circe’s wild, abundant island of Aiaia, where the hillsides are aromatic with herbs, this is a magical, intoxicating epic of family rivalry, power struggles, love and loss – and a celebration of female strength in a man’s world.
As you probably know, I LOVED The Song of Achilles. The moment I heard that Madeline Miller was working on a new book (which was probably two years ago), I knew it was going to be great. It’s funny how everyone is now hyping this book up. People who haven’t read TSOA are shocked to find this amazing story and brilliant writer. I never doubted her for a second. I think it’s fair to say that I’ve found myself a favourite author.
Where in TSOA we followed Patroclus, a mere human, we now follow the life of Circe, a goddess. Needless to say, her life spans centuries, thus there are many more stories to tell. Only a 100 pages in, we’ve already covered so much but trust me, there’s still so much more and you’ll want to keep on reading.
It’s so easy to accept all the magic and mythology while reading these books. In the end, Circe faces the same problems we all do. There’s conflict, love, loss, in a million different ways. There’s anger and fear. There’s longing and hope. She may be immortal but she gets lonely, like we all do sometimes.
Whether you know the myths or not, it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t know a lot about ‘the first witch’ but I loved discovering her stories and especially how those stories intertwine with other mythical characters. The Song of Achilles takes places during this book but Circe doesn’t know anything about it. She only learns about what happened afterwards when someone tells her about it. I loved that. How everything’s connected.
I love Madeline Miller’s way of writing. It’s very lyrical, very descriptive but that doesn’t slow her down. Despite all the details, the story moves forward quickly. There’s a lot to tell after all.
If you want to be swept away. If you like Greek mythology. If you are looking for a great read. I cannot recommend this book enough.
Madeline Miller has a way with words. She’ll have you hooked before you know it. Almost like magic.