The Joy of Re-reading: Circe
Updated: Aug 13, 2022
If you love to read:
-about a woman telling a bully who is much bigger than she is, "You don't know what I can do,"
-or, if you love stories of transformation, in which a character grows and develops in unexpected ways,
-or, if you love Greek mythology,
then you need to read Circe, by Madeline Miller.
This book is perfect for re-reading because there is SO MUCH going on here. Circe is a goddess and a witch, and as an immortal, her lifespan stretches over millennia. There are characters, such as Daedalus, who only show up over a few pages, but are fully realized and fascinating characters. The book covers Circe's childhood and youth in her father Helios's halls, where she is the least valued of his children. Her siblings are fascinating, although really mean. I just listened to Ariadne by Jennifer Saint, and I loved reading such a different take on Pasiphae, Circe's sister. With so many characters and events, even on this (I think fourth?) re-reading, I was fascinated.
As most of us heard of Circe from The Odyssey, it isn't surprising that Odysseus comes into the story. Anyone who read The Song of Achilles has already been introduced to this character as related by Madeline Miller. I love that she fleshes his character out as much as she does Circe's. A story like this is, I believe, supposed to give the female characters intentions and interiority, but she makes Odysseus as real and almost as interesting as Circe. And even Penelope makes an appearance!
The book covers heartbreak, isolation, power, war, motherhood, and other themes. I love it so much. The first time I read it, I stayed up until 3 in the morning to get through the first half, and then I picked it up as soon as I was awake to finish it. That was a library book, and I knew that I wanted my own copy before I was finished. This time, I listened to the audio to learn some of the pronunciations. I LOVE that this book is still so popular that I had to wait for weeks to get it, and then I couldn't renew it because it had more holds. I didn't think that I would finish it, but once I started listening, I didn't want to stop, and I got through it with about a half an hour to spare!
This is a book with as much adventure as most fantasy books, including magic and monsters, but with writing as beautiful as any I've read. It is one of the best popular books that I've read, maybe the best.
I have a Pinterest board for this book. Many other people have pulled great quotes, and made mood boards, and there are one or two pins from The Song of Achilles. https://www.pinterest.com/NerdandaHalf/circe/
If you loved Circe and haven't read The Song of Achilles yet, you should read it. I didn't like Ariadne as well (I'm going to write about it another post, but I'll go ahead and acknowledge here that it isn't really a fair comparison), but it is still interesting and worth a read. I'd also recommend The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood.
I'm beyond ready for the next book by Madeline Miller. Anyone have any info on that?
If you loved Circe, please let me know in the c0mments. Share the love!
NOTE: coming back to put in the narrator's name of the audiobook- Perdita Weeks. She was very good, and it was cool to hear the correct pronounciations. Sometimes I was WAY OFF.
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