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An ancient drama

Yay! It's been four weeks since New Years and I am four weeks into my resolution! I am actually super proud of myself for sticking with this (I have seriously the worst track record with Resolutions, so this is a big deal!)!

This week I decided to read the Greek Epic Circe by Madeline Miller. I had heard such good things about this book from people like Gwenyth Paltrow and, I'm pretty sure Reese Witherspoon! I went into this with such high hopes with such high praise from big names, and now that I've finished it, and digested it for a bit, I'm still not sure how I feel about it.

The story follows Circe, daughter of the Titan, and God of the Sun, Helios. In an epic saga, that literally covers thousands of years, the story begins with Circe birth, her difficult upbringing in the world of the gods, and her meeting with Prometheus before he was cursed to die on the mountain top each day. Her meeting with Prometheus is the catalyst for the rest of the novel, igniting Circe's rebellious streak.

Circe's foray into the world of sorcery, which she is the Goddess of for those not up on their Greek mythology, comes when she transforms her love Glacous into a god, then his lover into the sea monster Scylla.

After admitting her sorcery, she is banished to the island Aiaia to live out eternity alone. There, Circe develops her sorcery, turning the men who crash onto her island into pigs, and putting up with the troublesome nymphs sent to be her hand maids.

The story comes to a head when Odysseus lands on her island after fighting in Troy. The pair begin an affair, which leaves Circe pregnant after Odysseus leaves for Ithaca.

Circe raises her son, Telegonus, alone, in fear of the goddess Athena, who wants to kill him. Once Telegonus becomes a man, he sets off for Ithaca, in pursuit of his father. This leads to Odysseus's death, and his wife and son coming to live on Aiaia. The novel concludes with Athena coming to the island and taking Telegonus to pursue the destiny that Odysseus's legitimate son refuses. In a weird twist, Circe gains her mortality, and lives the remainder of her life married to Odysseus's son.

I went into this book really wanting to like it. I knew the basics of Circe's story from the Odyssey, and was excited to read this adaptation. For the most part, I think I liked this book. Miller's style read like the old epic stories, like the Iliad and the Odyssey. And I liked that it gave the power back to Circe; she is a strong female character who tries so hard not to be governed by the men and the gods in her life.

But, I felt that it didn't really stick true to the original source material. I understand Miller wanted to recreate Circe, making her the strong character she is but I think it lost a little of who Circe was in the Odyssey.

Overall, I give this book a 3 out of 5. I loved Miller's style, and how the book read like the saga it is, but I didn't love her characterization of Circe.

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