Circe by Madeline Miller
Like last month, this month’s audiobook was longlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize. In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. Yet, in the golden halls of gods and nymphs, Circe stands apart, as something separate, something new. With neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and scorned and rejected by her kin Circe is increasingly isolated. Turning to mortals for companionship, she risks defying her father for love, a path that leads her not to the marriage bed but to a discovery of a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.
Banished by Zeus to the remote island of Aiaia, Circe refines her craft, fate entwining her with legends: the messenger god, Hermes; the craftsman, Daedalus; a ship bearing a golden fleece; and wily Odysseus on his epic voyage home. As her power increases and her knowledge grows, so Circe must make the ultimate choice: to decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
A source of fascination for ancient writers from Homer to Ovid, Circe is a character whose story is steeped in magic and mystery. Caught up in the story of heroes, she is a figure apart, a player in the lives of heroes and gods but one who has never commanded her own story, until now.
I was lucky enough to see Madeline Miller speak about Circe last year. Her enthusiasm and knowledge about Greek myths (plus the rave review by a friend) instantly made me want to read the novel but for some reason I just didn’t get round to it. The book has languished on my shelves for several months but after getting my Audible subscription I thought it was a great opportunity to get round to finally reading it. I was instantly swept up in the story and the characters and I couldn’t wait to continue listening every day. I’ve read several of these myths which translate the male-centred fantasies of myth into novels which focus on and are narrated by the women at their centre and this was by far my favourite due to the way it captured the realities of humankind. Miller's portrayal of Circe as a flawed but empathetic character is a testament to her writing capabilities. The Song of Achilles is next on my list!