by Kendall Headley
Circe is a novel by Madeline Miller, published in 2018. It is a retelling of the life of Circe, a minor figure in Greek mythology, who is known for her association with Odysseus and her ability to turn men into animals. The book explores the life of this powerful woman and her journey to find her place in the world.
The story begins with Circe’s early life on the island of Aeaea, where she is born to the Titan Helios and the nymph Perse. Despite being the daughter of a god, Circe is treated poorly by her family and is constantly reminded of her shortcomings. She is an outcast among the gods and is often mocked for her human-like appearance and lack of godly powers. It is only after she discovers her ability to transform people into animals that she gains respect among her peers.
Circe’s transformation power is both a blessing and a curse. It allows her to defend herself from unwanted advances and to control her environment, but also isolates her from other people. Her solitude is broken when Odysseus, the famous hero of the Trojan War, washes up on her shore. Circe is immediately intrigued by him, and they form a bond over their shared love of storytelling.
The relationship between Circe and Odysseus is one of the highlights of the book. Miller does an excellent job of depicting the complex emotions that develop between them. They are both outsiders in their own way; their connection is born out of a mutual understanding of what it means to be different. However, their relationship is not without its challenges, and the book explores the power dynamics at play between them.
Throughout the book, Circe struggles to find her place in the world. She is constantly told that she is not good enough, that she is too weak or too human to be a true god. However, as she interacts with more and more people, she begins to understand the value of her own unique perspective. She learns that her power lies not in her ability to transform people, but in her ability to empathize with them.
The book is beautifully written, and Miller’s prose is both poetic and accessible. She has a talent for bringing ancient stories to life and making them feel relevant to modern readers. She does an excellent job of fleshing out Circe’s character, who is often relegated to a supporting role in other mythological tales. In this book, Circe is given agency and is allowed to take control of her own story.
Circe is a stunning work of fiction that is sure to delight fans of Greek mythology and general readers alike. It is a story of self-discovery and empowerment and is a testament to the power of empathy and compassion. Miller has created a memorable and compelling protagonist in Circe, and her story is one that will stay with readers long after they finish the book.