I need to learn my lesson. If the cover of a book says “The #1 International Best Seller” then just leave it on the shelf. Madeline Miller’s “Circe” is one such book. If it starts out as a dull retelling of ancient Greek mythology – told from the perspective of the title character – one of its few saving graces is that it’s better than Stephen Fry’s “Mythos”.
Maybe this current fashion of replaying of myth as fiction – rather than as historical or academic ‘fact’ – is a style that doesn’t sit well with me.
In “Circe”, it is only when Odysseus appears on the scene that the narrative actually develops some depth and the title character finally becomes rounded. From that point onwards it is a better read. I was lucky I made it that far, to be honest. I would even go as far as to suggest new readers start there: chapter 15. Doing so turns it into a novella of sorts, and narrows the focus to Circe’s relationship with Odysseus and the consequences of that, but it may end up being a much experience.
So if you’re struggling with the early chapters, skip ahead a little before you give in…