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Circe by Madeline Miller
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Circe (original 2018; edition 2020)

by Madeline Miller (Author)

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7,884377931 (4.28)529
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child -- not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power -- the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves. Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus. But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.… (more)
Member:atlas84
Title:Circe
Authors:Madeline Miller (Author)
Info:Back Bay Books (2020), Edition: Reprint, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:fiction

Work Information

Circe by Madeline Miller (2018)

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English (360)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (2)  Hungarian (2)  Italian (2)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (370)
Showing 1-5 of 360 (next | show all)
“But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me.”

Circe is a tale about a minor Greek goddess who grew up viewed as the weirdo or outlaw. She was never seen as anything special. She had no special powers or redeeming qualities. Circe was just, Circe. Her parents and siblings never cared much for her. Then one day she does something unforgivable. She was exiled to a deserted island where she beings to practice her witchery.

This book was beautifully written. So many metaphors and inspiring words. Simply beautiful. Though I must admit the book was a little slow, as it had long chapters where little to nothing exciting happened. But there were also many chapters where I simply did not want to put the book down, more specifically towards the end.

“I would say, some people are like constellations that only touch the earth for a season.”

“Only that: we are here. This is what it means to swim in the tide, to walk the earth and feel it touch your feet. This is what it means to be alive.”

I felt bad for Circe throughout the reading. Her parents and siblings spoke lowly of her, degrading her when she was right in front of them. Then she finally met someone who would listen to her. Glaucos was the first person who Circe could talk to without feeling like a burden or annoying. It is with Glaucos that she first discovers her magic, though she thought it was just fate.

The magic she conjured made Glaucos become his true self. He became outgoing and social. Circe was so excited to see him so happy. That is until he decides to propose to Scylla. This angers Circe, leaving her jealous. She did the same thing to Scylla that she did to Glaucos, but Scylla becomes a monster.

This is what led to Circe's exile. Before the exile, her brother Aeëtes told her that it was magic, not the Fates. On her island Aiaia, she begins to explore her crafts, spending her days doing witchery.

Alright, enough of reciting the entire story...

Circe meets Daedalus, a mortal. They share great stories with each other. Circe feels whole again, after being in solitude for so long. This is where things begin to upset me.

Everyone Circe has ever loved has been taken away from her. All I wanted was for her to live a happy life. In the end, she gets a happy ending, but it was all just a wish she was imagining. Being exiled for centuries, she had barely talked to anyone. She had her nymphs, though she did not care about them.

All those men to step onto her shore, to eat in her house, to be held in hospitality, only for them to do something unforgivable. They got what they deserved, for she used her witchery skills to tear them apart, to turn them into pigs.

Circe falls pregnant with a mortals baby. She knew the baby would be hated by the gods, but when she learns that her son Telegonus is threatened to die, she does everything in her power to protect him. Not him...I have been ripped of all happiness. All the people I have once loved.

Of course as a mother she is bound to be protective. But it's not only her motherly mindset that makes her feel this way, it is the way in which she grew up deprived of love and comfort. There was a sort of deal put in place. The gods did not want this child to be born, but at last, it was. Telegonus grows up crying and screaming for hours a day, never wanting to be put to sleep, be alone, or be touched.

He grows to be wise, handsome, determined. Blah blah blah Odysseus is his father and he wants to see him but he dies blah blah blah. I didn't really care about Odysseus, not as much as Daedalus, at least. But he made Circe happy and that made me happy.

I'm tired right now so I don't feel like writing anymore, though I may add more some day. Maybe not. But if you love mythology, I definitely recommend this. Even if you don't, I would still recommend it. Toodles... ( )
  ninaleonidovna | Oct 2, 2022 |
I am a fan of Greek and Roman mythology. However, I am not a scholar. This retelling of some of our well-known stories from the point of view of Circe was intriguing. Madeline Miller does a wonderful job of weaving her own fiction into already known mythology that has been around for centuries. It makes me want to go back and read the old mythology of Odious, Icarus, Madia, and the Minitour. With a strong female voice, it gave me a bit of empowerment that I was needing at the time of listening. Highly recommend. ( )
  BuffyCharp | Sep 1, 2022 |
As someone who has always enjoyed Greek mythology this book did not disappoint. I listened to this as an audiobook, and the narrator weaved a comfortable and engaging story. Between the enjoyable narrator and the author's flowing writing style I would happily recommend this book.

Told from the perspective of Circe, we learn of her life. Her hardships, challenges, failings, and victories. The well-known characters she interacts with is seen from a new viewpoint and the character development is twisting and captivating. ( )
  ArcherKel | Aug 17, 2022 |
Oh, my. What an amazing book. So good that I am tempted to change all of my existing ratings so that this could stand alone, or with a few companions, as a 5-star. The last book I read that left me in such a state of awe was [b:The Poisonwood Bible|7244|The Poisonwood Bible|Barbara Kingsolver|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1412242487l/7244._SY75_.jpg|810663], and that was many years ago.

I can't remember why I hesitated to read it when it was first published, but even after I acquired an audio copy I continued to let it rest on my TBR shelf. Perhaps the gods wanted me to be more or less settled in a new location, one suitable in its autumn glory as a backdrop for reading as I walked or drove.

Miller has carefully constructed her epic tale from beginning to end, so that each stage of Circe's life logically builds on what came before and leads to what will follow. Although she is rooted firmly in the world of the gods, her personality and life circumstances cause her to interact with mortals, and over the course of the book she learns the best and worst of both.

Equally importantly, she learns the best and worst of herself. She learns how to exist in a world dominated by capricious gods of both genders and, sadly, human men who are all too often brutal in pursuit of their lusts and ambitions. She reinvents herself more than once in her exile as she adapts to events and molds her own essence to meet her destiny.

Circe is an epic figure, a hero of uniquely female qualities, fierce strengths tempered with powerful emotions. She is not that typical female icon whose gifts are limited to enduring and nurturing, but one who stands toe to toe with the most powerful figures in both worlds she inhabits, and, not only survives, but flourishes. What a gift [a:Madeline Miller|176372|Madeline Miller|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1322861610p2/176372.jpg] has given us.

Along with the accolades for the book itself, I will add a HUGE compliment to Perdita Weeks, and to the individual who selected her as narrator. There is a magical quality to her voice that was, for me, fully integrated with the story. ( )
  BarbKBooks | Aug 15, 2022 |
I gave up on it at the end of chapter 14, page 167. I read half of the book, but I decided not to continue because it was a struggle to get here.

This is not a case of the book being bad, but instead of me being the wrong target audience for it. This book made me realize that I don't like Greek mythology. What I like is some of the ideas in those myths in a way that I can enjoy it in works that are inspired by it, but that omit a lot of the things a modern audience wouldn't appreciate.

I admire the author's work of trying to stay loyal the original Greek myths while still changing things a bit to make them fit in a connected story. Even so, I still felt like I was reading snippets of Circe's life because she lives for so long that I got the feeling that most of her days didn't matter at all. There are a lot of timeskips, that I am generally not a fan of.

The characters are the main problem I have with this. The gods and all around them are like selfish overpowered toddlers. This is true according to the Greek myths, but it doesn't make for a pleasant read when it's all there is. The only character that has more emotions is Circe, but she is still not human and I always felt like she was lacking in that department while at the same time I admire that the difference between mortal and immortal beings is so noticeable. Most characters in this book are jealous, selfish and concerned with power. This alone and with no balance of other emotions makes for a boring painful read to me.

I read "The Song of Achilles" and I loved it so I can pinpoint that the main difference between that book and this one is the perspective of a mortal vs an immortal being. Patroclus was a very kind hearted human being with a much bigger range of emotions that made it easier for me to sympathize with his struggles. Also, the gods thankfully don't appear much in that book.

While reading Circe I couldn't help thinking how idiotic everything and everyone was because they spent 99% of the time doing things out of spite and just because they could as if they were babies with a temper tantrum.

The writing is still great and there were some good moments and quotes in here. But, overall, it's just not my kind of read, even though I appreciate this being a retelling close to the original myths it was inspired by.

I prefer to give up on it and not rate it instead of forcing myself to finish it and give a rating that the book doesn't deserve because, in the end, there is an audience for it. I am just not it.

PS: I forgot to mention that for someone that lived for way longer than I did or ever will Circe sure is a slow learner. In that the other characters were right. She is completely unaware of everything and making wrong assumptions all the time.
1 vote elderlingfae | Aug 11, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 360 (next | show all)
“Circe” will surely delight readers new to the witch’s stories as it will many who remember her role in the Greek myths of their childhood: Like a good children’s book, it engrosses and races along at a clip, eliciting excitement and emotion along the way.
 
Miller has taken the familiar materials of character, and wrought some satisfying turns of her own.
 
[W]hat elevates Circe is Miller’s luminous prose, which is both enormously readable and evocative, and the way in which she depicts the gulf between gods and mortals.
 
Written in prose that ripples with a gleaming hyperbole befitting the epic nature of the source material, there is nothing inaccessible or antiquated about either Circe or her adventures.
 
The character of Circe only occupies a few dozen lines of [the Odyssey], but Miller extracts worlds of meaning from Homer's short phrases.
 

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Madeline Millerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ciani, Maria GraziaAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Magrì, MarinellaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Staehle, WillCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weeks, PerditaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Nathaniel
νόστος
First words
When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.
Quotations
“A happy man is too occupied with his life. He thinks he is beholden to no one. But make him shiver, kill his wife, cripple his child, then you will hear from him. He will starve his family for a month to buy you a pure-white yearling calf. If he can afford it, he will buy you a hundred.” “But surely,” I said, “you have to reward him eventually. Otherwise, he will stop offering.” “Oh, you would be surprised how long he will go on. But yes, in the end, it’s best to give him something. Then he will be happy again. And you can start over.”
This was how mortals found fame, I thought. Through practice and diligence, tending their skills like gardens until they glowed beneath the sun. But gods are born of ichor and nectar, their excellences already bursting from their fingertips. So they find their fame by proving what they can mar: destroying cities, starting wars, breeding plagues and monsters. All that smoke and savor rising so delicately from our altars. It leaves only ash behind.
Timidity creates nothing.
But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me.
As it turned out, I did kill pigs that night after all.
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In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child -- not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power -- the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves. Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus. But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

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In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child--not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power--the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love. Amazon
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