Yet another book that I probably would not have read if it hadn’t been recommended and eloquently reviewed by fellow Cannonballers. I took a Greek and Roman mythology course in college a million years ago and, sadly, very little of it stuck in my brain. I’m sure that a better familiarity with Greek gods, goddesses et al would have enhanced my reading of this, but I don’t think that it’s necessary here. This is a well told, gripping story of an immortal woman whose longing for acceptance, companionship, love and respect are very, very mortal.
The first-born child in the union of sun-god and Titan, Helios, and nymph Perse, Circe is a disappointment to them from birth. Never pretty enough, clever enough or powerful enough to interest her family or the deities around her, she becomes a vessel for their dissatisfaction and a target for constant ridicule. When her desperate need for love reveals the strength of her true powers, she is exiled to the isolated island of Aiaia where she begins to write her own story.
Miller’s book is about a lot of things, but one of the most prominent themes is imprisonment. Circe is not alone in her exile. There are many characters here trapped by magic, by other’s expectations of who they are or should be, by marriages, by their own lust for power, or their devotion to others. Even the gods build their own cages out of fear, hubris and stubbornness, but is Circe’s struggle against the prison of immortality that drives the story.
I agree with some of the earlier reviews that pacing was a bit of an issue, particularly towards the end of the story. Otherwise, it was a beautiful and bittersweet book and well worth the read.