by Madeline Miller
Circe is Madeline Miller’s retelling of the story of Helios’ unwanted daughter who doesn’t seem to fit with the world of gods or mortals. Circe has a unique power though – witchcraft and that power is threatening to the gods. She is banished to a desert island where she hones her skills and tames wild beasts and comes into herself as a powerful woman. Circe’s story shines bright even adjacent to the gods and her strength is an inspiration to all who listen in and watch where she goes.
National Public Radio says of the novel, “Miller’s lush, gold-lit novel — told from the perspective of the witch whose name in Greek has echoes of a hawk and a weaver’s shuttle — paints another picture: of a fierce goddess who, yes, turns men into pigs, but only because they deserve it…. The character of Circe only occupies a few dozen lines of [The Odyssey], but Miller extracts worlds of meaning from Homer’s short phrases.”
Author Ann Patchett says, “An epic spanning thousands of years that’s also a keep-you-up-all-night page turner.” And O Magazine says, “Spellbinding…. in Miller’s conception, Circe is the hero of her own epic…. Miller has created a daring feminist take on a classic narrative; although the setting is a mystical world of gods, monsters, and nymphs, the protagonist at its heart is like any of us. A free woman, the author seems to be saying, must be willing to forsake the trappings of birthright and rank in order to claim her destiny, whether thousands of years ago or today.”
If you are not familiar with Greek mythology, fear not, the story is so engrossing you’ll be able to dive right in. However, if you want to know more, Madeline has put together a glossary of the characters that will help you build knowledge.
Once you’ve finished Circe you might enjoy these other books that relate to her story.