Genre : Fantasy / Greek Mythology
Book Cover : 5 *****
Rating : 3.5 ***
This one is for the fans of Greek Mythology and for people like this reviewer whose closest association to the Greek Gods is through ‘the Little Mermaid’ – remember Ariel’s Father, the lord of the sea! He seemed alright – both morally and temperament wise.
Why is that a surprise one might ask?
Its because Greek mythology is full of decadent, amoral Gods and Goddesses who were hell-bent on getting into any kind of scrape simply in the name of having ‘fun’. It is no wonder their shenanigans are such a hit with us mere mortals living our mundane 9-5 lives and trying to cram surviving and progenating in a span of, on average, 80 years if things go well. But one must not be jealous, after all it must be hard living for thousands of years laden with untold riches, never having to work, not really needing to eat but with the ability to produce every kind of food at the snap of one’s fingers and never giving a fig about anyone else, except rarely and then a bit too vehemently. One supposes their lives are now better with the advent of the internet, Netflix and Ekta Kapoor serials. Sadly, at the time that this story begins, poking into other people’s business and trying to get a rise out of weaker immortals and mortals seems to have been the only source of entertainment for these long-suffering souls of divinity.
Circe was one of the daughters of Helios, the Sun God, and Perse, a naiad, and thus a Goddess in her own right in Greek mythology. However, apparently she lacked all signs of beauty, divinity and grace common to the other Gods at birth and suffered at the hands of her mother, brother, sister and other members of her father’s court for it. This book takes us on a journey into the life of Circe according to Madeline Miller.
The cover of this book on the paperback edition is absolutely gorgeous and eons better than the one on the hardcover edition. Also, if you are on Instagram and follow any kind of bookgrams then you would know how impossible it has been to miss the launch of this particular book over the past few months. Every single book tuber/ book reviewer seemed to have received a copy of the book and was singing its praises to the high rafters. All factors that positively forced one to get a copy ASAP.
So, did the book live up to all the hype? Yes and No.
There is no doubt that Greek mythology is an interesting read at the best of times, what with their squabbling Gods and down-trodden mortals, with thwarted ambitions and conspiracies and the never-ending intrigues along with all the wanton sex. So, out of all the hundreds of Gods, Goddesses and Demi-Gods and Goddesses it was a novel experience to concentrate on one and read her story from beginning to an almost end – because Gods don’t die so easily it seems. Look at poor Prometheus’ fate.
Circe was not a very important entity in the realm of the Greek Gods until she unwittingly displayed a form of magic so monumental that the only way to control her seemed to be exile on a remote island, in lieu of being put in fetters for the rest of her days since she happened to be the daughter of a politically strong God. Here she must spend the rest of eternity alone and she begins her sentence by honing her previously undiscovered talents. With time she becomes strong in her own right and must deal with the ramifications of her love of a human once again. It is a sad story at times and also the story of a woman coming into her own. It is the story of feminism at its core.
With its complex storyline, was it an interesting read? It ticked almost all the boxes by my standards. A good read. While it certainly was fast paced and made me want to keep turning the pages, it was more like having a mythological history lesson at times. Which in a way is the purpose of this book. It attempts to tell a complex story, with many many versions through the ages in a simpler, more complete form. Its hard to figure out how true it has stayed to the original if one is not a follower of Greek myths, but the Wikipedia page on Circe more or less adds up to this story.
So yes, pick up this book so you can throw in random names of Greek Gods into conversations with highly literary types. And also for the smacking good story that you get out of it. I keep wondering whether her next one will be about Odysseus or even Prometheus. Although after reading this book, I must say I am no longer a fan of Odysseus.