‘Circe’ by Madeline Miller is a book I will think about for days.
Synopsis: Circe is one of the most famous witches throughout history and she is also a Titan goddess. In this book, every hero and monster from Ancient Greece is mentioned and some of those tales, our Circe had a hand in. We follow her journey from the feet of Helios, through her bed with Hermes and to the extended stay of Odysseus. We follow her choices and her punishments, her reasonings and her magic.
Miller is a goddess herself as I never thought that I would be enraptured by this book. I bought it on a whim. I have always loved history and my interest in Greek Mythology started when I was 8 and our subject for the year was Ancient Greece. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed revisiting those stories of heroes and monsters and what better way to reacquaint myself than through Circe’s POV? Who is a witch. I love witches. I love Circe. And I love Miller.
This isn’t a typical love story, but it is centred around love. Every major decision Circe makes is because of love, whether it is romantically or motherly. The same could be said about her loneliness. For a Titan goddess and a witch, Circe is utterly human. She isn’t scared of pain, she isn’t opposed to punishment, she makes mistakes, she regrets her choices and she loves. She is ashamed of her monsters and the punishments she has meted out. She learns everything the hard way and comes out undeniably stronger for it. She becomes wiser and more skilled through every event.
I enjoyed the honesty of this book. I understand that myths and legends aren’t necessarily true and that embellishments were made to string her life into a story with feeling but I couldn’t help but see the truth in this book. Perhaps it wasn’t the story of Circe herself but the message that Miller sent via Circe’s voice. So many of the heroes in that age were men. In this story, Circe helps at least three men in some shape or form to win against beasts or trials. She is a powerful woman (goddess) in a sexist world where the issue of breeding is a constant. This book is empowering to women and I felt like it was meant for me. I can’t imagine a man getting the same message/emotions from this book and I know how sexist that makes me sound but I genuinely believe it.
This book blew me away. It took me slightly longer to read than most but I was happy with that. Miller’s writing is not to be rushed and nor would you want to her. Her ability to tell a story is well above my comprehension and I can only hope that she wins an award for this. It’s so so beautiful, full of feeling and indisputable understanding of what it means to be human; to be a woman.
There are far too many quotes that I loved from this book and I of course couldn’t pick one, so here are a few!
“You can teach a viper to eat from your hands, but you cannot take away how much it likes to bite.”
“It was their favourite bitter joke: those who fight against prophecy only draw it more tightly around their throats.”
“The thought was this: that all my life had been murk and depths, but I was not a part of that dark water. I was a creature within it.”
You can get it here