Circe (2018): Madeline Miller


For her second novel, Madeline Miller returns to the fertile world of Greek mythology, and to another figure often overshadowed by a swaggering hero. This time her protagonist is Circe, sorceress and nymph, ruler of one of the many islands where Odysseus manages to get lost en route from Troy to Ithaca. Artists have always loved Circe: John William Waterhouse, in particular, seems to have been obsessed with this exotic enchantress. And yet Miller invites us to look beyond the magic, the sensuality and the unfortunate habit of turning people into pigs. As she did in The Song of Achilles, she gathers strands of myth from various sources and reveals little-known aspects to a familiar figure. Like Penelope, Miller is a master weaver; and yet there’s something at the heart of the book that doesn’t quite work.

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The Song of Achilles (2011): Madeline Miller


I went over to the dark side recently and treated myself to a Kindle. In my defence, it was mainly a matter of expedience. Being a fast reader, I suffer the consequences of long train journeys or business trips.  Things reached a peak when, during a visit to Germany, my copy of World Without End weighed more than the rest of my hand luggage put together.  Rather than heave enormous books around Europe, just in case I run out of something to read, it seems much more sensible to have multiple e-books at my fingertips. And so, for my first Kindle experience, I lighted on Madeleine Miller’s Song of Achilles, which promised to indulge my fascination with the myth cycle of the Trojan War.

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