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 : Little, Brown and Company, 2018
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780316556347
0316556343
Characteristics: 393 pages ; 25 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

May 28, 2019
Discussion facilitator: to be determined. Co-facilitator: Angela King.

Best Fantasy

Enter the magical world of Circe, where rivals become a sea-monsters and rapists are aptly turned into swine. Miller masterfully weaves a lyrical tale of an unloved and underappreciated nymph who becomes legendary for her vast skills in sorcery. As punishment for using her powers, she is exiled ... Read More »


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p
patcarstensen
Jul 05, 2019

I read both Circe and Penelopiad this summer, both of which give an idea of what the Odyessey would be like if Homer had had an audience where women mattered. Now I would like to know Calypso's view of the story.

k
KatG1983
Jul 04, 2019

Circe is a compelling and expansive story, full of adventure. If you're into mythology in the slightest, Circe will entice you in and entertain you.

f
fionajay
Jun 03, 2019

Nominated for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2019.

j
Jacqua4030
May 13, 2019

Réservé à la Bibliothèque de Gatineau

l
lukasevansherman
Apr 21, 2019

Lyrical, visceral, and ultimately moving reworking of the Circe story, who was the witch from "The Odyssey" that transformed the men into pigs. Miller, who studied classics, brings the ancient world and the ancient gods to vivid life, as well as adding an emotional depth and nuance not often found in the myths. One of the best books of 2018. Also see her first novel, "The Song of Achilles."

k
king5683
Apr 19, 2019

Loved the modern day telling of this story! Beautifully written, easy to read. Created a direct connection to many ancient Greek characters

b
betsymarzoni
Apr 11, 2019

You will see all those Greek gods and goddesses you read about in elementary school in an entirely new light in this book about the strength of women and the powers, positive and negative, of transformation.

CarleeMcDot Apr 08, 2019

I had seen a few friends mentioning this book (not to mention all of the best seller lists it was on) and decided I'd get in line at the library (the wait-list was already in the double digits when I got on it, so I figured it had to be good, right?!). Like most books I pick up, I had no idea what this was about (although I guess the image on the front cover should have given me a clue that it was possibly about a goddess). I am normally not someone who gets drawn into mythology (and, to be honest, I know very little about any of it), but this novel had me hooked from the beginning. It is rather long, but I felt like I kept wanting to find out what happened next so got through it rather quickly. I saw someone comment that this book was a "soap opera for the gods" and I've got to agree. There was a ton of drama, which kept me totally engaged. Circe, the main character of the book, was so interesting and although she was immortal, her humanity was ever present. No matter the type of book you normally grab, the action mixed with character growth will have most readers happy with the read. I wouldn't say it was the best book ever (I've heard some folks say this is now in their top three books), but it was entertaining and well written. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

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.

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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.
===
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.
===
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.
===
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.
===
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. ”
===

“A witch,” I said. “With unbound power. Who need answer to none but herself? ”
===
Sons were not punished.
===
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.
===

Give me the honest asp, who strikes me if I trouble him and not before.
===
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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muchai
May 20, 2019

muchai thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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