I debated being cutesy about it and calling this my “orange” square since it won the Orange Prize, or a tongue in cheek “friendship” square, but figured I’d be more straightforward and go with the “debut” space.
What a debut it was, too. I read Circe and enjoyed it quite a bit, but found it a bit detached. Undeniably great, but it just didn’t hook me like I had expected given the rave reviews here and elsewhere.
This book? Blew me away.
I loved Greek mythology as a child, and I remember reading about the friendship between Patroclus and Achilles, and the insinuation that they may have been more than friends, but I’m not sure if the allusion was taming the story down for kids (the 90s were a different time, folks, not saying it was ok to censor then, but it happened. The octolet will have no problem with stories about boys loving boys) or if it was canon, but my fuzzy memory gave this book the perfect balance of familiarity and surprise.
Miller spins the tale of the exiled Patroclus befriending the golden Achilles and finding his friendship bloom into something more as not just real, but inevitable. As with Circe, she balances the mythological with the grounded amazingly well, with Achilles’ goddess mother a believably intimidating presence as much for her chilly supernatural presence as well as for the garden variety “my boyfriend’s mom hates me” unpleasantness.
I don’t want to say more, because I want everyone to read this book. I wonder if I would have been more or less impressed with Circe if I had read this book first, but I know I’m excited for anything she writes going forward.