“When I was born, the word for what I was did not exist.”
Circe is a story of Greek folklore novel that takes you for quite the ride. This story is that of a young adult through adulthood which the reader follows throughout its narrative. The novel begins with Circe as a child, and the reader follows her through a life that spans thousands and thousands of years. Throughout her life Circe really discovers who she is, what she wants, and how she wishes to spend her everlasting life. We’re treated to classic mythology all while observing from a point of view that one rarely gets with these ancient tales.
Circe: A Goddess Making Her Way In The World
Heavily inspired by Greek mythology, author Madeline Miller uses the stories of Circe that we already know and creates narrative from her point of view, a fresh and interesting concept. She is a woman who is figuring out who and what she is. Strong, determined and stubborn she begins to explore life on her own since her family mainly ignore everything that she does.
Growing up she is considered the ‘useless’ daughter of her father Helios, a great and powerful titan god, and his nymph wife. She isn’t a radiant beauty and she doesn’t care to fit into the world of the gods. Sort of willingly oblivious to her position in the world and with her family, she wanders around simply trying to find a place to be and fit in. Shadowing her father and becoming friends with her younger brother she starts to enjoy her life. But then her brother leaves her in the dust for the wonders of the life of a god, and Circe realizes she needs to find her own place in the world and this endless life that she never chose.
Through several extenuating circumstances, Circe winds up exiled on an island to spend the rest of her immortal life. All alone here, she realizes that this silence is much preferred to the noises of a crowded hall full of gods and nymphs. She certainly does have to adjust to her new life and as the reader you get to see her adapt and overcome all of the challenges throughout this time. You’re treated to a number of traditional stories intermingling with Circe, and witness how she can influence events.
As time goes on, Circe really finds her niche. She surrounds her self with natural herbs, lions, wild animals, and potions. She is able to connect to nature, and understand things no one else understands. She can feel nature in a way that even the other gods do not comprehend. The power she discovers is not just hers, though. Her brother and sister have it as well – but as time passes we see just how different Circe is from her siblings. Miller really turns Circe – a mythological and fantastical figure – into a relatable character, and humanizes her, a difficult feat for a deity. Over time we begin to see how Circe defines humanity itself, and how her view about humans in general changes as different people enter her life.
Circe really has it all. Traditional mythology, a coming of age story and a strong heroine making her own way in the universe. Once you pick this book up I guarantee you won’t want to put it down. Circe is a one of a kind character, and Miller breathes new life into this previously untouchable character. A story I didn’t know I needed, and I’m so grateful to have picked it up!