Elise (TheBookishActress)'s Reviews > Circe

Circe by Madeline Miller
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You threw me to the crows, but it turns out I prefer them to you.

My words are not as good as the ones in this book. Circe is a book about... finding yourself. But god, it stands out so far from just that.

Okay, to get started, I’m just going to say it: Madeline Miller is one of the best writers of our time. She has such a way with words that it is absolutely impossible not to be engaged in her storytelling.

The thing that brings this whole novel together is Circe’s character. She is a woman who has done awful, evil things, and yet remains unfailingly human. She is lonely, and harsh, and hiding herself in sarcasm much of the time. And there is not a moment in this novel in which I didn’t adore her. Madeline Miller does such an amazing job developing this character, weaving her thoughts into the narrative without manipulating you into feeling a certain way, keeping the narrative wide yet keeping it focused around Circe. Throughout this novel I developed such a deep level of admiration for both this author and this character, this character I’m sure will stay with me forever.

This novel is so interesting because at its core, it is an exploration of the voice of women in Greek mythology. Circe is a character we see nothing of in the narrative of Greek mythology, a character with seemingly evil intentions and little motivation – and all this despite showing up in several different stories. There’s something supremely excellent about seeing a character like this who is essentially a plot device be given a story. I know I have a tendency to repeat the term “narrative agency” but it beats repeating— I absolutely love giving characters who have been given no agency the agency they deserve.

I mean, everything about this book was just brilliant. I loved the myth interpretation: Penelope and Odysseus are both written perfectly, and seeing Jason basically get called an asshole while Medea stood on being young and morally grey and in love was so fantastic. And the exploration of gods vs. mortals is just brilliant:
You cannot know how frightened gods are of pain. There is nothing more foreign to them, and so nothing they ache more deeply to see.

I loved the relationships — just as a special note, the relationship between Circe and Telegonus made me want to cry. I basically loved everything.

I mean, I think you guys have gotten pretty easily why I liked this so much — a morally-grey-character-driven retelling revolving around agency is basically my entire what-I-like bio. This did all the things I like and I want to reread it daily and hourly. I very well might.

[I also want you all to know this book gave rise to my favorite update meme I have ever posted so thanks for that!!]

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buddyread with my favorite Melanie 💜
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Quotes Elise Liked

Madeline Miller
“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.”
Madeline Miller, Circe

Madeline Miller
“He showed me his scars, and in return he let me pretend that I had none.”
Madeline Miller, Circe


Reading Progress

March 27, 2017 – Shelved
March 27, 2017 – Shelved as: releases-2018-2019
April 22, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
May 1, 2017 – Shelved as: desperately-awaiting
May 1, 2017 – Shelved as: my-personal-author-shrines
July 11, 2017 – Shelved as: releases-2018-desperate
September 24, 2017 – Shelved as: releases-2017-desperate
September 24, 2017 – Shelved as: releases-desperate
September 24, 2017 – Shelved as: releases-2017
October 6, 2017 – Shelved as: releases-2018
January 11, 2018 – Shelved as: must-reads-2018-feb
March 1, 2018 – Shelved as: must-reads-2018-march
March 22, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
March 23, 2018 – Started Reading
April 2, 2018 –
60.0% "the sailors: oh lady Circe give us food
Circe: sure let me just-
the sailors: we will now attempt to try to rob you, a witch, because that can't go wrong in any way shape or form
Circe:
description"
April 5, 2018 – Shelved as: 5-star
April 5, 2018 – Shelved as: read-2018
April 5, 2018 – Shelved as: elise-s-arcs
April 5, 2018 – Shelved as: faves-of-2018
April 5, 2018 – Shelved as: me-experimenting-new-genres
April 5, 2018 – Shelved as: favorite-characters
April 5, 2018 – Shelved as: favorite-relationships
April 5, 2018 – Shelved as: favorite-friendships
April 5, 2018 – Shelved as: favorite-squads
April 5, 2018 – Finished Reading
May 16, 2018 – Shelved as: genre-histfic-past
May 16, 2018 – Shelved as: genre-high-fantasy
June 10, 2018 – Shelved as: retellings

Comments Showing 1-38 of 38 (38 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Elisa Oooh that’s so exciting!


Elise (TheBookishActress) thank you so much Elisa! (ha we’re name twins) I’m really excited 😊


GypsyBookworm Congrats!


Melanie Current Mood: Crying, heavy breathing, and waiting for Elise to finish so I can gush. 💕


Elise (TheBookishActress) @Melanie I HAVE TO FINISH SOON. JUST FOR YOU


Bojana I can't wait to read this!!! I have a huge madeline shaped hole in my heart that has to be filled soon!


Elise (TheBookishActress) Bojana wrote: "I can't wait to read this!!! I have a huge madeline shaped hole in my heart that has to be filled soon!"

filllllll iiiiiiit. i swear, once this comes out...


message 8: by Celise (new) - added it

Celise Aaah just a few more days until the release date. I love this author, so glad this was a five star read for you.


Elise (TheBookishActress) @Celise I love Madeline Miller soooo much. I hope you love this just as much – it’s so brilliant.


clara i'm (somehow??) even more excited for this book than i was before. so glad you enjoyed this one <3


Jenbebookish Can you explain the narrative agency bit? I’m sorta confused on what that even is!


Elise (TheBookishActress) @Jenbebookish narrative agency is the ability of a character within a narrative [book, tv show, movie] to make their own decisions. Obviously no fictional character can make their own decisions, but in a good and organic text, the lead characters at least will feel as if they’re making choices for themselves. The term tends to be used in feminist theory – if a female character is written to have all her decisions made by male characters or revolve around male characters [as the character of Circe did in Greek mythology] she has no narrative agency. So its use here is to indicate that Circe’s decisions within this book don’t revolve around male characters.

[thanks for asking!!]


message 13: by Lucy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lucy Langford This review is amazing!! I'm currently reading Circe now and you capture the book perfectly in this review ! (Well from my point of view anyway) 😊


Elise (TheBookishActress) Lucy wrote: "This review is amazing!! I'm currently reading Circe now and you capture the book perfectly in this review ! (Well from my point of view anyway) 😊"

thank you so much, Lucy! I hope you keep loving it 💜


Elisa I love what you said about her basically being a plot device, finally given narrative agency. I have always found it incredibly disappointing that this amazing character wasn’t given a more central role in any story, that she was just this shadow of her potential. I feel like I have been waiting for this book my whole life. Finally going to get my copy today!


Elise (TheBookishActress) Elisa (Bookish Expat) wrote: "I love what you said about her basically being a plot device, finally given narrative agency. I have always found it incredibly disappointing that this amazing character wasn’t given a more central..."

thank you so much! I love this kind of mythological retelling for that exact reason - narrative agency being given back is my kryptonite. i can't wait for you to read it and I hope you enjoy <3


message 17: by e. (new) - added it

e. Omg this is such an eloquent, articulate review... also, it seems like I have yet another book to add to my TBR <33


Elise (TheBookishActress) thank you so much, Jayne 💚💚 and I hope you enjoy it!


message 19: by Olga (new) - rated it 5 stars

Olga What a nice review, thank you! You've put into words basically everything I feel about this book.
Also, I was savagely GLAD and relieved that Odysseus was acknowledged at last for the total shit he was (not only wily hero he is always depicted anywhere else). I mean, I always strongly disliked Odysseus, reading about him in myths; because lets face it - he's a horrible person. And finally I see the work where he's given full credit; where he's not only praised for his traits, but called for what he really is because of those very traits.


Elise (TheBookishActress) @Olga thank you! and oh my god, I totally understand that. I loved how nuanced he was and how the narrative really understood his flaws.


Rainey Love the Meme


Rainey Great Review!!


Elise (TheBookishActress) thank you so much, Rainey!! 💜💜


message 24: by Rainey (last edited May 22, 2018 11:54AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rainey Elise wrote: "thank you so much, Rainey!! 💜💜"

I am so loving this book. Awesome Sauce. And I loved Song of Achilles.


message 25: by Aaa (new) - added it

Aaa Love it, cant wait


Elise (TheBookishActress) Rainey wrote: "Elise wrote: "thank you so much, Rainey!! 💜💜"

I am so loving this book. Awesome Sauce. And I loved Song of Achilles."


I'm so glad you loved this!!


message 27: by Hiba (new)

Hiba Wow great review Elise!


message 28: by lucie (new) - added it

lucie Nice review, Elise! Now I cannot wait to pick the book and finally read it :)


Rainey I so loved this book. Link to my review below.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 30: by Sanne ♔ (new) - added it

Sanne ♔ (Sanne and the Books) Alright I'm gonna read this one asap


Elise (TheBookishActress) @Sanne you totally should!! it’s absolutely amazing 💜


message 32: by Brandon (new) - added it

Brandon Have you read her first novel Song of Achilles? If you haven't I think you may enjoy it as well. Talk about giving characters who have been given no agency the agency they deserve. She is a master at this. Pretty sure Madeline is just Homer reincarnated.


Elise (TheBookishActress) @Brandon I have, actually! I loved it but I think I loved this even more 😊


message 34: by Brandon (new) - added it

Brandon Elise wrote: "@Brandon I have, actually! I loved it but I think I loved this even more 😊"

Great! I plan on reading it next followed by The Silence of the girls by Pat Barker.


Alexandra It was recently announced that this book will become a tv series! ;)


Elise (TheBookishActress) Alexandra wrote: "It was recently announced that this book will become a tv series! ;)"

wait seriously!! oh my god !!


Alexandra YES! Madeline announced it on her Instagram. ;)


Julia I was quite disappointed with this book as it depicted the main character as so utterly dumb and the story went on far too slow. In the end decades if not centuries had passed with barely anything happening. Expected a lot more with the set-up it had. There was so much wasted potential...


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