Circe by Madeline Miller

CTRandall

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First, I should say that this was just (as in this week) voted "Fantasy Book of the Year" on Goodreads. Second, the readers there got it right.

In Circe, Madeline Miller delivers the full package. Compelling characters? Check. Excellent storytelling? Check. Powerful, subtle, simple yet elegant prose? Check. Compelling characters? What, did I say that already? Then let me say it again. In this book, you will be beguilled by Circe as you watch her grow, as you watch her childhood innocence and naivite get whittled (and burned) away from her, as you watch her discover both the glories and the pains of the world, and as you watch her discover her own self.

While the book draws upon events and characters from Homer and ancient Greek myth, you don't need to be a Greek myth geek to enjoy this. Cognoscenti will enjoy all the references to Jason, Theseus, etc. but that's all secondary to the story. (Circe was, after all, an exile, so she knew next to nothing about the ancient Greek world.) The focus of this book is, instead, a thoroughly modern tale about a damaged, strong, vengeful, remorseful, capable and weary woman. It shows us a Circe who falls in love and grows to recognize the failings of her lovers, a Circe who simultaneously hates the world and misses it, and who rails against the gods yet must sometimes kneel before them.

It is, quite simply, the best work of fiction I've read in a long time. Nuff said, I'm going back to read it again.

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Jondo_

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Thank you for reminding me of this book. I've heard fantastic things-- about both Circe and Song of Achilles-- but for some reason I haven't gotten around to reading them. They're on my list, for sure.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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I'm reading it now. It's quite accomplished and I like it. Too soon to tell if it will turn out to be a favorite.
 

althea

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I have just finished reading Circe. At the beginning I kept thinking it wasn't as good as The Song of Achilles,which I really enjoyed.
However,as the story went along, I got really fond of Circe and thoroughly enjoyed this book.
I am a fan of the Greek myths,so the references added extra enjoyment for me.
I agree with CTRandall's review of the story and I'm so glad I persevered with the first few chapters.
 

HareBrain

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There's a diving scene near the middle.
Hopefully that'll keep me going, because I've lost interest a bit. We're on Crete now. I think my problem with it is:

There are no real consequences. She's exiled as a punishment, but in luxury, and anyway she doesn't seem to miss many people (justifiably so, since they were pretty much all idiots). And it doesn't stop people visiting her and her having affairs with them, and it turns out this "exile" doesn't even stop her leaving in certain circumstances. And she can't die, and can even regrow her body when injured.

It's very picturesque and well-written, but the stakes seem rather low (apart from in the bit with Scylla). Does that change?
 

CTRandall

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I over-egged the diving scene. It's more of an under-the-ocean scene. The stakes are always very personal. They do increase in the middle/last third but they remain personal. There is no saving the world here. The whole book is really the story of one character trying to live her life, rather than blockbuster wars of the gods.
 

HareBrain

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The whole book is really the story of one character trying to live her life,
That would be all the stakes I'd want, except that at this stage she doesn't seem to know how she'd like her life to differ from how it is. But I might just be in an unhelpful mood at the moment. I'll carry on with it anyway.
 
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