Circe, oh Circe!! This book has been everywhere in 2018… and for that reason, I had dug my heels in and was not going to go near all the hype on this book. Well, when a dear friend, with fantastic reading taste, told me she loved Circe. I thought, fine. I will just give it a try.
This is Madeline Miller’s second book. I had read her Orange Prize winning novel, The Song of Achilles, which was based off of the Iliad. And now she comes out with Circe, which is based off the Odyssey. Miller has said that as a child, she was obsessed with both these works of literature, and had so many questions about all the characters. So she decided to write her own version of what she thinks happened.
Circe is a coming of age story of the immortal nymph, who finds out she possesses the power of witchcraft. It starts from her young age, and interacting with the Gods and Goddesses. She feels inadequate in their presence as she lacks their beauty, and their powers… but what she lacks in these areas, she makes up with her ability of witchcraft. When Circe discovers this, and uses it to her advantage, and the detriment of others, she is exiled to the island of Aiaiai. It is here where Circe becomes a total queen, and discovers herself on so many levels.
This book is a must read. If you have any faint interested in Greek mythology, you will LOVE it. If you don’t, then just read it anyway, because it’s absolutely stunning. Miller’s writing style is so calm, and gently explanatory. It feels as if there is someone reading this story to you. It has some faint #metoo feminist vibes, and the ending is incredible. It’s, dare I say, perfect.
Lastly, there is a passage that is written so beautifully about motherhood. Miller uses the dichotomy of goddess and mortal, and shows the reader how perilous motherhood really can be. The nausea endured during pregnancy, endless diaper changes, the sleepless nights. And then there is the overwhelming love, the guilt, and the worries. She just nails it. I think the motherhood experience is on a small scale what Circe goes through the whole novel, trying to balance whether being immortal is really all it’s cracked up to be.
That is one thing gods and mortals share. When we are young, we think ourselves the first to have each feeling in the world.
Have you read this one? Please let’s chat if you have.