Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe is a demigod, daughter of the Sun God Helios and a water nymph.  Unfortunately, her human side is prominent enough that she is considered less than her siblings and ignored by her parents.  As she grows up, she discovers that she does have a power though; the power of witchcraft.  After she uses it to change one of the other nymphs in her father's household into the monster Scylla, she is given a sentence of eviction and isolation on an island with no one else to talk to.

Alone on her island prison, Circe grows into her own personality.  She gardens and gathers herbs and poisons and refines her spells and witchcraft.  She tames the wild animals who become her friends and guardians.  When she is threatened by visitors who would harm her, she uses her magic to turn those who would hurt her into animals.  She is occasionally allowed to leave.  She goes to her sister's household to help her deliver her child but even Circe is shocked when that baby turns out to be the Minotaur.  Circe even has occasional lovers such as Daedalus and Odysseus and the god Hermes.  After Odysseus' death, his wife, Penelope, and son, Telemachus, come to the island to live with Circe.  She also has a son, Telegony, who she is determined to protect against all else.

Circe fights her surroundings and imprisonment over the ages to determine who she really is and which part of her, the goddess or the human, should she strive to be.  Finally, love makes that decision for her and she leaves to live the life that will finally satisfy her. 

Madeline Miller has made the classics the central theme of her life.  Both her undergraduate and graduate degrees were in the classics and she spends her time adapting the old stories for a modern audience to great success.  Her first novel, The Song Of Achilles, helped her burst into success and this newest novel continues that path.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

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