Meg's Reviews > The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
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's review
Sep 18, 2012

really liked it

I love historical fiction, and I have come to be increasingly fascinated by ancient Greek history, culture and mythology. The Song of Achilles fills in many of the gaps and assumptions made about the relationship of Achilles and Patroclus while remaining true to the facts of the Iliad and the Trojan War. The writing benefits from the ten years it took Miller to write and rewrite the novel, but I only give I four stars because--as other readers have noted--although it humanizes the two men and allows the reader to be immersed in Patroclus's love for Achilles, the novel never adequately answers why Achilles loves Patroclus. This wrinkle undermines that wonderful sense of satisfaction I crave upon completing what is an otherwise solid debut.

Also, the narration did not work as well after Patroclus's death--this was apparently an issue Miller struggled with while writing the book, and one that still plagues the final twenty-five pages of the novel. The last few italicized lines of the novel provide a stunted, slapped-on footnote that seems out of step with the style and tone of the writing. Despite those sore spots, I appreciated Miller's rendering of an ancient love story--devoid of sentimentality, the novel moves the reader with the spare, poetic prose of its narrator, recreating a world and a relationship that is both plausible and relatable.

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