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Circe by Madeline Miller

This is the best fiction book I have read this year. I was not entirely into her book about Achilles, but this one is absolutely thrilling. From the back cover.

"In the house of Helios, god of the sun and eighties of the Titans, a daughter is born. Circe is strange - not powerful and terrible, like her father, nor gorgeous and mercenary like her mother. But she has a dark power of her own: witchcraft. When Circe's gift threatens the gods, she is banished to the island of Aiaia where she hones her occult craft, casting spells, gathering strange herbs and taming wild beats. yeet a woman who stands alone cannot I've in peace for long - and among her island's guests is an unexpected visitor: the mortal Odysseus, for whom Circe will risk everything."


There are so many wonderful quotes in this novel, here some on the gods.

"That word nymph, paced out the length and breadth of our futures. In our language, it means not just goddess, but bride.

My mother was one of them, a naiad, guardian of fountains and streams. She caught my father's eye when he came to visit the halls of her own father, Oceanos. ...

My father (Helios) glowed bright as just-forged bronze, while Oceanos had been born with rheumy eyes and a white beard to his lap."

"Centuries had passed. The earth's wounds had healed and the peace had held. But the grudges of gods are as deathless as their flesh, ..."

"It was not piteous, as it might have been in a mortal. We gods eat as we sleep: because it is one of life's great pleasures, not because we have to."

"They could not stop a god, but most divinities are cowards."

"I was smooth as oil, calm as windless water."


As Circe makes herself comfortable on her island, she is not entirely forgotten by the outside world. Hermes, the messenger of the gods, pays his visits from time to time. Circe is happy about those until one day she receives a visit from a mortal; Odysseus. As the story goes, Circe turns his men into pigs. Odysseus, with good advice from Hermes, meets Circe and manages to overcome her spells, leading to an epic love story. He stays with her for a year.

Circe is very attached to Odysseus. By the poets Odysseus' name has gone down in history, or legend, as a hero. Miller treats him different, and gives him the attributes of a normal man, not always on his best behaviour. Quite entertaining to read.

Quotes on Odysseus

"Living with him (Odysseus) was like standing beside the sea. Each day a different colour, a different foam-capped height, but always the same restless intensity pulling towards the horizon."

"The window was open; the breeze passed over us. It was a trick of his, to set a sentence out like a plate on a table and see what you would put on it. But he surprised me by continuing. *I would stay, he said, 'if you would have me. It will only be until spring. I will go as soon as the seas are passable. It will be scarcely any delay.'

That last was not said to me, but to some person he argued with silently. His men perhaps, his wife, I did not care. I kept my face turned away so he would not see my pleasure.

'I will have you,' I said."

"The answer that came to me was from a different tale. Long ago, in my wide bed, I had asked Odysseus: 'What did you do? When you could not make Achilles and Agamemnon listen?'

He'd smiled in the firelight. *That is easy. You make a plan in which they do not.'"

"'His true talent was in how well he could take from others.'"

"'He never did anything for a single purpose.'"


Once Odysseus has left Circe to continue his travel home, Circe gets another surprising visit that makes her revaluate her life.

Miller's take on Circe is fascinating and spellbinding. In this story, Circe is a modern woman, dependent on decisions made my her father, but determined to do the best of it. With small steps she takes control of her life in the island. The prose is poetic and beautiful, many wonderful quotes of which I have included some above highlights the reading. The inclusion of other classical characters, adds to the story, and the surprising end just makes the story perfect.

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