Thursday, July 05, 2018

Book Review: 'Circe' by Madeline Miller

I loved this! I love the tales of myths and legends, and 'Circe' by Madeline Miller is a spin on the Greek myths, a tale centred around Circe, a Goddess of magic and sorcery. It follows her life from a lesser nymph, scorned by the rest of her family and hardly noticed by the rest of the pantheon, to her being banished to the island of Aiaia for the practicing of Pharmaka; the use of potions and herbs, after casting a dark spell or two in the name of love.

Whilst exiled away on the solitary island, intended as punishment, Circe embraces the limited freedom on the Isle, something that she hadn't had before. This is where we get to see Circe's life journey; a life of pain, of love, of loss, of discovery, of determination and of transformation. She's certainly not afraid to stand up to the Gods when she has to; to her father Helios or to the goddess Athena, even if it means having to pay a price. She also questions what it means to be an immortal, to live, to love, to be loved, and what it is to be a mother. Even though she is descendant from the Gods, she comes across as very human, and I loved her all the more for it.

She's not totally alone on her island however, as there are plenty of the players from Greek myths woven into Circe's life. Prometheus, Glaucos, Medea and Jason (of Argonauts fame), Daedelus, his son Icarus, Ariadne, Minos, the Minotaur of Crete, and the even the god Hermes and the goddess Athena all make appearances. But it's the appearance of Odysseus, on his way home from Troy, that plays a huge part in this story. Him meeting Circe is part of the 'The Odyssey' story after all, and gives the classic tale a welcome feminist slant.

I listened to the audiobook option, narrated by Perdita Weeks. And oh my! This was perfect casting. As I listened to her narration, the story was brought to life, like a gift from the gods themselves! I felt as though I was reliving Circe's life, and could easily have been listening to Circe herself! Wonderfully done.

'Circe' is a touching and beautifully written tale of a woman who goes from a downtrodden young nymph and, despite the hardships she has to endure (there are graphic scenes of violence, gore, torture and rape), discovering and transforming herself into the woman she wants to become and at last finding the life and love she has always been seeking.

Definitely recommended!