Circe by Madeline Miller

Title: Circe by Madeline Miller
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
My verdict: 5 (Highly recommended only if you’re interested in Greek mythology)
(Amazon) In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child–not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power–the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

What I enjoyed:

Miller shone a whole different light on Circe and reinvented her. I must admit I don’t know much about Greek mythology, but I’ve always been fascinated by it. And I like this version of Circe that Miller has created.

Miller made me ponder, so, was Circe a plain, spiteful goddess or merely a misunderstood witch? Women have always been given a negative or weaker image for centuries, as Circe was in Homer’s Odyssey.

But Miller changed that. She gave Circe a strong voice and character; one who was defiant in her own right, who determined her own fate and who succeeded against all odds with no help but her strength and courage alone.

Miller uses a language that’s easy to understand and follow, even for a person like me who doesn’t know much about Greek mythology.

I also appreciate the fact that the book provided a list of all the characters mentioned in this story. It made the entire experience so much more enjoyable.

You know how sometimes you get so ‘involved’ in some characters that you feel heavy-hearted leaving them when their stories end? That’s for me after reading ‘The Master and Margarita’ but not so much Circe. Not because I didn’t like the characters, but I felt that the characters were pretty much ‘settled’ and complete when it ended, especially Circe who found herself, and happiness, and is no longer bound to the lives of those who weren’t worthy of her love.
Other myths ve Circe by Madeline Miller:
According to history, Circe had to beg Odysseus for mercy after turning his men into swines (Odysseus was able to overcome Circe’s power with the help of Hermes’ special herb). 
But in Miller’s story, this didn’t happen, instead Odysseus life was put in Circe’s hands, who decided to be lenient with him when he showed interests in her works.
Circe first turned Scylla into a woodpecker first before turning her into a monster. 
In Miller’s version, the part of the woodpecker wasn’t mentioned. 
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca E7. 36 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
“When Telegonos (Telegonus) learned from Kirke (Circe) that he was Odysseus’ son, he sailed out in search of his father . . . He took the corpse [of Odysseus] and Penelope to Kirke, and there he married Penelope. Kirke dispatched them both to the Islands of the Blest.” 

In Miller’s version, there was no mention of Odysseus’ body. 
Favorite quotes:
On life:
“I thought: I cannot bear this world a moment longer.” “Then, child, make another.”
Yep. I am the boss of my life!
“I would say, some people are like constellations that only touch the earth for a season.”
Sad, but true.
On war and men:
“War has always seemed to me a foolish choice for men. Whatever they win from it, they will have only a handful of years to enjoy before they die. More likely they will perish trying.”
And yet, war seems to always be the choice. Sigh!
On the world: 

“The world is an unjust place. Look what happened to that counselor of Agamemnon’s. Palamedes, his name was. He served the army well, but fell in a pit while on a night watch. Someone had set sharpened stakes in the bottom.”
The world has always been unjust…Reality sucks. That’s why I read to escape!

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Ova says:

    Fantastic review- this is on my TBR!


    1. Jee Wan says:

      TQ 😀 Have you read The Song of Achilles? It’s really good too 🙂


      1. Ova says:

        No and I don’t even have that book 🙂


  2. Wonderful review. I enjoy mythology as well though i am not proficient in it. My husband knows more than i do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jee Wan says:

      Do give this book a try! Or The Song of Achilles 🙂


      1. I haven’t heard of The Song if Achilles, but i will for sure look it up

        Liked by 1 person

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