Circe by Madeline Miller was a book that I gobbled up in a few days. I tried to pace myself but I just couldn’t. The magnificent writing, the story, the characters and settings all just flowed so beautifully and made this such a pleasant reading experience.
Without giving too much away, Circe tells the story of the nymph Circe (fancy that), daughter to the sun god, Helios. She is one of his many children and is considered ugly and weak-voiced compared to all the other gods. She is laughed at and ignored by her family, until the day she discovers an ability to transform gods and people using herb lore and witchcraft.
Circe is punished after one such incident and sent away for an eternity of exile on an island. But it’s here that Circe comes into her powers. It’s here that she dares to be more than just another nymph to be used by a father, lover or brother. She learns more about humans and that even a goddess alone can be at the mercy of mortal men.
I loved the feminist slant in this retelling of Circe’s story. At one stage the Olympian Hermes makes some comment about nymphs being only good for one thing and terrible at getting away. Circe rejects this life of subservience to males and forges her own path.
“When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist. They called me nymph assuming I would be like my mother and aunts and thousand cousins.”
I enjoyed this book because I love Greek mythology. But even though I went into this book with knowledge of who’s who when it comes to the Olympians, I knew little about the goddess Circe and the Titan family she is a member of. She was a small part of Odysseus’s story in The Odyssey by Homer. So it was great to learn a bit more through Madeline Miller’s poetic writing. The author seamlessly weaved together quite a few myths and legends while telling her version of Circe’s story in such a clever way.
This is definitely a book that I will read again down the track.
Verdict: If you love great writing, myths and strong female characters then this is the book for you!
Have you read Circe? What did you think?