Bailey's/Orange Women's Fiction Group discussion

The Song of Achilles
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2018 Book of the Month > August 2018 The Song of Achilles

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message 1: by Val (new) - rated it 3 stars

Val The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is a previous winner of the prize.
The author also has a new book Circe, which is eligible for the 2019 prize.


Lisa (lisadannatt) | 13 comments I read this earlier this year. Could not put it down. Can’t wait to read Circe!

message 3: by Val (new) - rated it 3 stars

Val I preferred Circe, but that may just be me finding independent women more interesting than lovesick teenagers.

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 13 comments Now I’m looking forward to it even more. I liked the vulnerability of Achilles.

Penny | 680 comments Mod
anyone tried this on Audible?

Penny | 680 comments Mod
I am listening to this one - so have 2 on the go now!

message 7: by Val (new) - rated it 3 stars

Val The classical myths are usually about what the various gods and heroes do and not much about them as characters. I thought Madeline Miller managed to create real characters from the source material, allowing for the fact that some or most of them didn't exist. Do you agree, or do you think she modernised them too much?

Penny | 680 comments Mod
I' m only a an hour or so in Val - but I have to just go with it in terms of the characters. In order to follow the premise I think you can't get too hung up on the 'real' characters. For me the whole idea of children of Gods and marrying Gods etc is all a little too into the 'fantasy' realm but I am sticking with it.

Maddie (ashelfofonesown) I read it sooner this year and absolutely loved it. I think though most of my enjoyment came from my obsession with Greek myths and the Iliad (and the Odyssey). It felt like revising old friends through a new lens, and I loved it.

Miller's way of handling the characters was so personal and authentic but still true (or as true as an interpretation/retelling can be) to the original. Of course, it's not quite the same... But I felt the same warmth reading this as I do reading the original work, and that alone is, to me, a very good indication of a masterful work of literature.

One critic I've read before is that it sometimes reads a little like YA and less like literary fiction. In that sense, I have to agree. What's stuck with me isn't so much the language but the characters and the setting and the feeling (I'm a very feelsy/emotional reader, pardon me) -- and I'm not sure that is completely Miller's merit. But, at the same time, I know she's a classics scholar and she's perhaps even more passionate than I am about the subject -- in that sense, I wouldn't trust anyone else as much as I trust her with the retellings of Greek myths (granted I have yet to read Mary Renault, whom I know is also a big name in the Greek retellings field).

Penny | 680 comments Mod
Interesting thoughts Maddie. I am reasonably familiar with Greek myths - well, some of them. I am finding this substantial enough to stand on its own and the writing feels solid and not false or clunky.

Penny | 680 comments Mod
Still not quite done - I am not too happy with the main relationship between Achilles and Petroclus - they move from being utterly absorbed in each other like teenagers and then behave in a more adult way and then back again. I cannot quite understand Achilles' motives nor the purpose of Thetis - is she simply devious?

Penny | 680 comments Mod
I finished this and have to say that I ended up enjoying it far more than expected. It is really more a love story than anything else - Achilles though rapidly changes during the battle for Troy - he seems to exchange his humanity for 'divinity' which doesn't improve him. Not sure what I think about the ending though.

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The Song of Achilles (other topics)
Circe (other topics)

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Madeline Miller (other topics)