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A Novel

Book - 2018
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Jun 08, 2021

I love me a good Greek myth! Circe, the goddess from Homer's Odyssey who turns Odysseus' men into pigs, gets to tell her own story here. Despite being born the daughter of Helios, a powerful Titan, Circe's gender relegates her being more or less an object of men's desires. Even a goddess lacks power in the court of her father. A chance encounter with the doomed Prometheus has far reaching consequences. Circe, eventually banned by her father and Zeus to the island of Aiaia, begins to discover her true powers. The arrival of Odysseus has far reaching implications that will see Circe eventually make a decision that will change her life forever. If you love Greek mythology, you'll enjoy this read and discover that being a goddess isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Circe was a pretty good novel if you enjoy greek mythology. A bit hard to get into, but Miller has a very unique writing style that feels timeless. I grew to really enjoy Circe's character, and how she knew right from wrong and would protect those she loved at any cost. Once you get into it the book flies by, and I enjoyed the blend of adventure, witches, and mythical characters.

Mar 24, 2021

This book was so good. It has witches, Greek gods, and the tale of humans. You learn more intimately about God's and humans in a way I haven't seen other authors execute. I would definitely recommend this read.

Mar 08, 2021

Circe is a creative retelling of Circe, the infamous Greek sorceress, and it describes the story of her life that the myths left out. I have been having luck with novels recently, and this is my second five-star novel of the year. The book is ambitious, and I have never encountered a novel dedicated to Circe’s perspective. Circe is such a beautiful piece of literature and one of the best retellings I have encountered in adult literature. The characterization of Circe was by far the best part of this novel. Circe is such a smart, kind, and feminist character that you can’t help but sympathize with; I loved reading about her thoughts of the world around her. Circe’s interactions with other characters all have their purpose in shaping her personality and vulnerability. She isn’t perfect, but she contains many flaws that only strengthen her narrative. This novel is brutally honest, and it doesn’t skimp on many societal topics of sexism, rape, isolation, and motherhood.
I appreciated this novel even more because I’m a huge fan of Greek mythology. The reader can tell that the author spent so much research into her myths to create this magnificent world. The plot is slow, but it’s purposefully slow to allow the interactions and characters to build upon themselves. The romance wasn’t the main focus, but it was a tiny subplot. There wasn’t a distraction from the haunting narrative of Circe, and the author’s writing style has that distinctive lyrical characteristic to it that leaves the reader mesmerized with the quotes. I read the author’s other Greek mythology novel, The Song of Achilles. It was no surprise that I adored that novel too! I would recommend this novel to anyone who was a fan of The Song of Achilles since they both contain the captivating writing style and modern Greek mythology; however, the Song of Achilles was more focused on romance than the individual story. This novel was beautifully dark, feminist, and crafted to interest the audience.

Rating: 5 stars
TW: Rape, mentions of sexual activity, brief mentions of violence
Age Recommendation: 15+ (based on reader’s maturity)

cmlibrary_melliott Mar 06, 2021

Ancient setting, modern problems. Circe is a goddess who dreams of being more, but her struggle to forge her own path seems endless. This is a beautifully crafted tale of a woman's journey to find herself and use her extraordinary power to carve her own place in the world. Familiar characters appear to further elaborate the story of a character who has been painted as a villain in classic literature. Definite recommend.

WPL_Erin Mar 04, 2021

I honestly don't think this novel was bad, it just wasn't for me. I had a really hard time connecting with Circe and while I was pulled in early on I really lost interest and felt I had to slog my way through the remainder. It just felt really slow plot wise and I just didn't vibe with it at all.

JCLCherylMY Feb 27, 2021

What a beautiful story based on Greek Mythology. The reader's voice was lyrical in her interpretation of Circe and the other characters. I will be haunted by Circe's voice for a long time: "I was not surprised by the portrait of myself, the proud witch undone before the hero's sword, kneeling and begging for mercy. Humbling women seems to me a chief pastime for poets. As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep." Stunning!

Feb 20, 2021

It lived up to the hype. Beguiling characters and crystalline use of language.

Feb 19, 2021

This book was thoroughly engaging and I was drawn to the page every day.
I loved how the author wove various myths through the story while keeping the narrative focused on Circe.
Her childhood was a horror story that only made her stronger and that more willing to adapt and to find better solutions.
I loved how she always found a better way and she was willing to listen even when she didn't want to.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes Greek mythology and anyone who wants a good story

Feb 09, 2021

The book goes through different phases or her life since she is centuries old. The beginning half was filled with stories of people mistreating her and loneliness but the second half she grows in power and confidence and the end is satisfying.

Jan 31, 2021

Compelling and interesting

Jan 27, 2021

Circe is the oldest child of the Greek god Helios and the sea nymph Perse. Everyone, including Circe herself, believes that she and her siblings lack divine power. She spends her childhood creeping around the edges of godly feasts and trying to avoid the torments that her younger brother and sister devise for her. When her mother gives birth to another son, Circe bonds with him. Aeëtes eventually leads her to believe that maybe they aren’t quite as helpless as they appear. When Circe accomplishes a couple of dramatic transformations via magic, the other gods realize she and her siblings are witches. Circe bears the brunt of the gods’ punishment and they exile her to the island of Aiaia for all eternity.

I’ve read so many glowing reviews of this book but copies are never available at my library. I finally bought my own book to see what all the fuss is about and I’m so glad I did.

Circe is every woman who has been treated as “less than” because of her gender. As a child, she accepts that everyone overlooks her. She’s not as beautiful as the other nymphs, so why would anyone pay attention to her? She’s starved for attention though, and makes some terrible decisions. But those decisions lead her to discover that she has magic. Her exile gives her room to discover more about her powers and hone them. Watching her grow into her divinity and carve her own space in the world felt empowering to me.

But Circe also has more heart than other gods. Mortals fascinate her, even as a child. When some try to worship her, she rejects their adoration. While other gods view mortals as play things or simply don’t really notice them at all, she’s eager to learn more about their world and how their minds work. In addition, other gods never even realize that they’re capable of making mistakes. Circe not only acknowledges her errors but tries to make amends. A static life seems boring, but growing and changing and trying to improve? That’s the life Circe lives.

I also enjoyed reading about Greek heroes as regular people. Sure, they’re wilier and and stronger than most but at the end of the day, they’re just humans. Daedalus’s suffering began long before he tried to fly. Odysseus is impatient and quick-tempered and regrets some of his decisions in the war, although he would repeat them if he had to. I liked seeing them on a mortal scale.

I highly recommend this. In some ways, it’s a fairly quiet book; but I found Circe’s transformation from an unassuming girl to a powerful force both engrossing and satisfying.

Jan 13, 2021

I read this after finishing reading the three of Stephen Fry's books on Greek mythology, heroes and the Trojan War. I loved this book for a more personal view on Greek mythology from a female perspective. Highly recommended!

Jan 10, 2021

A poignant tale of love, eternal punishment, self discovery, and the human condition, Madeline Miller's Circe was a book I couldn't put down. Circe, the daughter of a naiad and the sun god Helios, is an outcast in her family of shining gods. Despite being a powerful sorceress herself, her powers are feared and eventually leads to her exile on the island of Aiaia, where must live for the rest of eternity. She develops her magic on the island, learning how to push the boundaries of her own strength-- but the life of a goddess is never that simple, and her unfortunate past always seems to be knocking at her door, despite her being exiled for all of time. Thousands of years pass, but Circe's constant visitors ensure that she is never really alone.

Miller's work is beautiful and heart wrenching, with each sentence filled with descriptive and figurative language. I loved Circe's character development throughout the book and how Miller shifts the narrative of Odysseus' story to focus on Circe, a self-possessed and wise female character. I enjoyed reading about Circe's interactions with the other characters, such as her sister Pasiphae and the messenger god Hermes. The ending of the book seemed a little rushed, and there wasn't much time to absorb all of the events that were being thrown at the reading. The book's closing felt very fast-paced, with so many major scenes taking place and so little time to process it. Circe's new-found love, her freedom, and the departure of her loved ones all occurred within the last few chapters of the book. I would have liked it if the events of the book moved slower. Other than that, I loved the book and will definitely read it again. The book was absolutely wonderful and I give it a 5/5 star rating!

Bunny_Watson716 Jan 08, 2021

I could not put this book down. I love the retelling of Circe's story, and the author's skill at bringing an imaginary ancient world to life was incredible. If you are looking for a book to help take your mind off the state of the world, give this book a try. If you love strong descriptive language and vivid characters, and are a fan of Greek mythology -or feel like you have not read enough in that area, you might enjoy this book too.

Dec 11, 2020

This is the tale of a young woman, Circe,daughter of the titan Helios.In this thrilling narrative, you will read about Circe´s adventures as one of three witches in the world of Greek mythology. Scorned for her strange looks, Circe had always been an underdog but a strange occurrence that leads to the creation of a monster allows Circe to discover her true potential. The power that Circe unlocked led to her being banished to an island, Aiaia, for eternity by the god, Zeus. However, on her magical island, Circe thrives in her solitude, honing her powers. Her life never would truly begin, though, not until the first human men came to her shores. When they did, Circe´s journey in finding herself and establishing her identity as an enchantress would be set in motion. Along with the story of Circe, many other famous Greek figures will appear, like Daedalus, Scylla, and Odysseus.

This novel is particularly interesting because although it was written in modern-day, the author illustrates how Greek gods and titans might have interacted with each other, bringing imagination to life.

I would definitely recommend this book because Circe is a character that I personally can relate to, and hopefully future readers can connect with Circe on a deeper level as well. 5 stars!

Nov 06, 2020

carolyn recommends

Oct 07, 2020

In classical Greek legend, Circe was an enchantress banished to an isolated island in the Aegean who placed spells on Odysseus' ship's crew, turning them into swine and waylaying them on their journey home following the Trojan War. In this exquisite contemporary retelling, Madeline Miller imagines what Circe's true story might be, in her own words. Miller's writing is compelling and elegant -- I relished Circe's story and didn't want it to end. Highly recommended, as well as her previous book 'The Song of Achilles.'

Sep 29, 2020

I found this to a very enjoyable read, especially if you enjoy mythology or even just fantasy. The Greek myth characters are a little thick in the beginning but you learn as you go and I found it easy to keep them straight. There is a little glossary in the back of the book for reference if you get lost. I loved the evolution of Circe and how she changed even though she was immortal. What a testimony to self-growth and growing courage! There were several sentences that the author delivered that caused me to stop and relish them. It was beautifully written. I think I will now add The Song of Achilles, by the same author, to my list to read.

Sep 27, 2020

The only thing enjoyable about this book is the adventures and the characters themselves. Otherwise, I felt like the book had no plot. It was just literally ‘adventures’ which were just the usual for gods and the people of that society. It can even be seen as a biography or a coming of age story of Circe. It just wasn’t what I was expecting and was often times confused. I finished the book just to see if there was gonna be something else that popped up to add interest, but unfortunately the pace of the book plateaued around page 100. I wouldn’t recommend this book for a novel. I would recommend if someone was just looking for a short stories type of book with the same main character.

Sep 22, 2020

This had a shaky beginning for me. I was up to my eyeballs with Miller's mythology. But once Cerce took centre stage I was along for the ride. 4.3/5

Sep 21, 2020

I didn’t know what to expect from this one as it is outside of my comfort zone and not something I would ordinarily choose on my own. This is the first pick for the book club I’m running at work and I’m excited to discuss it next week.

I loved reading about the witch Circe, a shunned goddess who doesn’t need anyone or anything except her herbs and her animals on her solitary island.

It was especially thrilling to read the clever ways she outsmarted men who would use brute force and try to take what wasn’t theirs.

CCPL_Teens Sep 01, 2020

Not only do you learn more about Circe, this books strings multiple Greek myths together to form a coherent story. This book is great for readers who grew up with Rick Riordan’s books and are now looking for something similar as they get older.

LPL_MaryW Aug 29, 2020

Unlike most of my peers, I did not learn about mythology in school. Circe intimidated me for far too long before I finally took the plunge to read it. How glad I am that I faced my fear! Even to my untrained mind, the chronicles of Circe were easy to follow, and with Perdita Weeks’ sublime narration, soon I was engrossed. Ostracized and outcast, Circe—the goddess, the witch—exhibits unbelievable strength and passion in her many years, and Madeline Miller has molded her into the feminist icon of my dreams. After spending so much time with her, I was emotional to say goodbye. This one should not be missed!

Aug 12, 2020

One of my favorite novels of the year (read together with Song of Achilles). Authentic to the ancient Greek culture, yet wholly original and modern. A powerful (though very violent/tragic) story.

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