Circe

Circe

A Novel

Book - 2018
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Follows Circe, the banished witch daughter of Helios, as she hones her powers and interacts with famous mythological beings before a conflict with one of the most vengeful Olympians forces her to choose between the worlds of the gods and mortals.
Publisher: New York, NY : Little, Brown and Company, 2018
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780316556347
0316556343
Branch Call Number: FICTION Mil
Description: 393 pages : color map ; 25 cm

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Follows Circe, the banished witch daughter of Helios, as she hones her powers and interacts with famous mythological beings before a conflict with one of the most vengeful Olympians forces her to choose between the worlds of the gods and mortals.

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CRRLAdults Nov 14, 2018

Follows Circe, the banished witch daughter of Helios, as she hones her powers and interacts with famous mythological beings before a conflict with one of the most vengeful Olympians forces her to choose between the worlds of the gods and mortals.

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 w... Read More »


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IndyPL_SteveB Mar 25, 2019

Gods, Titans, heroes, monsters, sex, war, tragedy, love, death, vengeance. Lots of vengeance. And of course, pigs -- because this is the story of Circe, witch of Aeaea, daughter of Helios, the sun god, and lover of Odysseus (“Ulysses” in some versions). *Circe* was a best-seller and deservedly on every best-of-the-year list I saw.

Told in first person, this could be just another rehash of Greek legends but instead is a spectacular, deeply moving, deeply *internal* retelling from the point of view of a woman. In doing so, Miller changes the story from heroism and revenge into the story of a powerful, immortal woman (hundreds of lifetimes of male crap to put up with) who is also an unappreciated daughter, a victim of rape, and a mother desperate to protect her son.

The book is beautifully written, with language as powerful and variable as the ocean. The observations of what makes heroes and what undoes them are like arrows from the bow of Odysseus. And the needs and tortures of being a mother are told in loving and painful detail. In fact, this novel turns the Greek legends on their heads, making the novel a story of *motherhood*.

IndyPL_CarriG Mar 25, 2019

A beautifully done retelling of the myth of Circe, one of the daughters of Helios. Lyrically written and character driven, it is satisfying to see Circe come into her own power and stop looking for outward validation - Miller mixes a brilliant blend of action and introspective character growth.

Tigard_AnnieS Mar 12, 2019

This book had me falling in love again with the brand of Greek Mythology that I learned in elementary school- after all, those stories are the basis for all stories in our Western culture. But you know what? We never heard from the women. This beautifully unfolding epic flips the script on those ancient tales and *finally* we hear a different perspective. Your feminist heart will love this.

m
MelyssaLynnKoopman
Mar 10, 2019

In my (unpopular) opinion, the majority of Circe is underwhelming, with so many unnecessary characters and events. I was literally having to reread paragraphs because my mind was wandering so often. Circe is exiled to an island for hundreds of years, hearing and discussing stories of others, with very little going on with herself. I really didn't understand where the plot was going until about three quarters through. While my review might sound harsh, I didn't hate it; but I was also somewhat relieved to add it to my completed shelf.

r
reader925
Feb 23, 2019

Gorgeously written and fascinating. So much more than just a retelling. I loved it and i’m not one for running to get the latest best-seller. This was just amazing!

r
rach_7
Feb 16, 2019

Character-driven, epic, atmospheric, flawed, introspective, complex. It's much more than just a female-centered retelling of mythology.

f
FilipinaP
Feb 11, 2019

More than just a retelling of Greek myths, this is the story of how a young female goddess grows into herself and gains wisdom over the ages. I connected with Circe’s struggles with her dysfunctional family and the need to define herself instead if being forced into a role by others. I couldn’t put it down!

q
queensthief
Jan 25, 2019

Lush writing, leisurely-paced, character-driven, sweeping, bittersweet, hopeful, with authentic, relateable, and flawed characters.
*I* felt like an ageless being watching eternities go by, and yet the book went by in the blink of an eye. I am moved, affected, and impressed.

l
lpreston214
Jan 25, 2019

This book gets a rare 4 1/2 star rating from me. Definitely will be one of my best reads of the year. I know that even this early! Circe, a nymph and daughter of Helios is portrayed as an immortal, yet not all powerful figure. She has many of the same challenges of any female. I loved that. She also had to work hard to become a powerful sorceress and used her sorcery mainly to protect herself and others. And who wouldn't want to turn rapists into pigs! Great characters, great writing and, of course, great stories. Can't wait for the next one.

j
jimg2000
Jan 25, 2019

Memoirs of a Goddess, re-imagined in 21st century, life of the sorceress Circe based on the 8th century BC "Odyssey" with a feminist touch. Many takeaways besides the Greek mythology: being females, Gods, human, families, happiness, suffering, legacy, home etc. The ending is utterly unexpected and unclear if the potion worked ultimately to Circe's will. Excellent photo essay in author's page:

http://madelinemiller.com/circe/circe-photo-essay/

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Quotes

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q
queensthief
Feb 12, 2019

But perhaps no parent can truly see their child. When we look we see only the mirror of our own faults.

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

WHEN I WAS BORN, the name for what I was did not exist. They called me nymph, assuming I would be like my mother and aunts and thousand cousins. Least of the lesser goddesses, our powers were so modest they could scarcely ensure our eternities. We spoke to fish and nurtured flowers, coaxed drops from the clouds or salt from the waves. That word, nymph, paced out the length and breadth of our futures. In our language, it means not just goddess, but bride.
===
See her arrange her dress so it drapes just so over her shoulders. I see her dab her fingers, glinting, in the water. I have seen her do a thousand such tricks a thousand times. My father always fell for them. He believed the world’s natural order was to please him.
===

Once when I was young I asked what mortals looked like. My father said, “You may say they are shaped like us, but only as the worm is shaped like the whale.” My mother had been simpler: like savage bags of rotten flesh.

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

“It is not fair,” I said. “It cannot be.” “Those are two different things , ” my grandmother said .
===
The slender dryads flowed out of their forests, and the stony reads ran down from their crags. My mother was there with her naiad sisters; the horse-shouldered river-gods crowded in beside the fish-White Sea-nymphs and their lords of salt. Even the great Titans came: my father, of course, and Oceanus, but also shape-shifting Proteus and Nares of the Sea; my aunt Selene, who drives her silver horses across the night sky; and the four Winds led by my icy uncle Boreas.
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Her cruelty springs fast as weeds and must any moment be cut again.
===
Circe is dull as a rock. Circe has less wit than bare ground. Circe’s hair is matted like a dog’s. If I have to hear that broken voice of hers once more. Of all our children, why must it be she who is left? No one else will have her.

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

What could make a god afraid? I knew that answer too. A power greater than their own.
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Helios flattered himself that all women went eager to his bed, slave girls and divinities alike. His altars smoked with the proof, offerings from big-bellied mothers and happy by-blows.
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“Circe,” he said, when he saw me. Just that, as if you might say: foot.
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All I knew was that I hated her. For I was like any dull ass who has ever loved someone who loved another.
===

===

“Pharmacies,” I said. Witch.
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“Sorcery cannot be taught. You find it yourself, or you do not. ”
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Even the most beautiful nymph is largely useless, and an ugly one would be nothing, less than nothing.
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Too late for all the things I should have known. I had made so many mistakes that I could not find my way back through their tangle to the first one.
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Watching Zeus and Helios negotiate is always good entertainment. Like two volcanoes trying to decide if they should blow.

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

“Tell me,” he said, “who gives better offerings, a miserable man or a happy one?” “A happy one, of course.” “Wrong,” he said. “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. ”
===
Most gods and mortals have lives that are tied to nothing; they tangle and wend now here, now there, according to no set plan. But then there are those who wear their destinies like nooses, whose lives run straight as planks, however they try to twist. It is these that our prophets may see.

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

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.
===

You see what a honeycomb the palace is beneath. There are a hundred storerooms that go unused, for all the wealth of Crete is in gold these days, not grain. I think I may make them into a sort of maze. Close it at both ends and let the creature roam. It is all dug in the bedrock, so there will be nowhere to break
===

For once in your twisting life, speak the truth. You brought me here to make me your fool. ” “Oh, that requires no effort from me,” she said. “ You are a fool on your own. ” But it was reflexive, not a real answer. I waited.

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

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.
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I pressed as close as he would let me, like a lizard to noonday rocks.
===
Rage and grief, thwarted desire, lust, self-pity: these are emotions gods know well. But guilt and shame, remorse, ambivalence, those are foreign countries to our kind, which must be learned stone by stone.
===

Every moment mortals died, by shipwreck and sword, by wild beasts and wild men, by illness, neglect, and age. It was their fate, as Prometheus had told me, the story that they all shared. No matter how vivid they were in life, no matter how brilliant, no matter the wonders they made, they came to dust and smoke.
===

Each of her features alone was nothing, her nose too sharp, and her chin over - strong. Yet together they made a whole like the heart of a flame.
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How many of us would be granted pardon if our true hearts were known?

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

A man wants a wife like new grass, fresh and green. ”
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“A witch,” I said. “With unbound power. Who need answer to none but herself? ”
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Sons were not punished.
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After so long amid only the smooth sameness of nymphs, each imperfection was a pleasure: the lines around their eyes, the scabs on their legs, the fingers broken off at the knuckle. I drank in their threadbare clothes, their worn faces. These were not heroes, or the crew of a king. They must scrabble for their livelihoods as Glaucous once did: hauling nets, carrying odd cargo, hunting down whatever dinner they could find. I felt a warmth run through me. My fingers itched as if for needle and thread. Here was something torn that I could mend.

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

Maybe the true surprise, I thought, was that it had not happened sooner. My uncles’ eyes used to crawl over me as I poured their wine. Their hands found their way to my flesh. A pinch, a stroke, a hand slipping under the sleeve of my dress. They all had wives, it was not marriage they thought of. One of them would have come for me in the end and paid my father well. Honor on all sides.
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Give me the honest asp, who strikes me if I trouble him and not before.
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You should appreciate a pig’s advantages. Mud - slick and swift, they are hard to catch. Low to the ground, they cannot easily be knocked over. They are not like dogs, they do not need your love. They can thrive anywhere, on anything, scraps and trash. They look witless and dull, which lulls their enemies, but they are clever. They will remember your face. They never listened. The truth is, men make terrible pigs.

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

“Your wife sounds like a clever woman.” “She is. I cannot account for the fact that she married me, but since it is to my benefit, I try not to bring it to her attention. ”
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He had already noted for himself that there was no man’s cloak hanging by the door, no hunter’s bow, and no shepherd’s staff. No sign of brothers or fathers or sons, no vengeance that would follow after. If I were valuable to anyone, I would not be allowed to live alone.
===

“War has always seemed to me a foolish choice for men. Whatever they win from it, they will have only a handful of years to enjoy before they die. More likely they will perish trying. ” “Well, there is the matter of glory. But I wish you could’ve spoken to our general. You might have saved us all a lot of trouble. ” “What was the fight over?” “Let me see if I can remember the list.” He ticked his fingers. “Vengeance. Lust. Hubris. Greed. Power. What have I forgotten? Ah yes, vanity, and pique. ”

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