Circe by Madeline Miller
We don’t know anything about the Ancient Greeks or Greek mythology or the gods.
But we thought we’d give this bestseller a go just to help us feel extra stupid.
Circe is classicist Madeline Miller’s retelling of the Greek tale of god of the sun Helios’s daughter, Circe – a witch who was banished to the island of Aiaia for all eternity after transforming a love rival into a hideous sea monster.
As you do.
There she works on her spells and lives a solitary life, except for the many, many visitor she seems to have.
She falls in love with mortal warrior Odysseus (oh, that’s why Homer called it The Odyssey) and then – because in for a penny, in for a pound, right – she falls in love with his son too.
Not knowing anything about Greek mythology, discussing this as a work of fiction wasn’t the easiest task, but there was much to be loved about Circe’s tale and Miller’s exquisite writing.
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.
When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.
There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
Breathing life into the ancient world, Madeline Miller weaves an intoxicating tale of gods and heroes, magic and monsters, survival and transformation.
Read the book, listen to the podcast, and tell us what you think.