Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller


Wow-za. Madeline Miller's Orange Prize-winning novel, The Song of Achilles, has been a big winner in the blogosphere for a long time now. I downloaded it ages ago, but I just got to it because I included it on a list of books I wanted to read before the summer was out. I'm REALLY glad I picked this book up.

Expounding on and reimagining the story of Achilles from The Iliad, Miller's novel embellishes the relationship between the exiled Patroclus and the half-god, hero-to-be, Achilles. They meet in childhood and become fast friends. When Achilles is sent off to Mount Pelion to train with the centaur, Chiron, the boys' relationship blossoms into love.

From what I can tell from Googling, Patroclus and Achilles were known to be close companions in the epic, but it was never entirely clear whether it was an intimate relationship or a strong friendship. It doesn't really matter--this book is breathtaking in Miller's imagining.

The first half of this novel was probably my favorite. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the second half, but the first half really delved into the boys' growing up years. Their time with Chiron, spent learning to track, to navigate the forest, and live off the land was interesting in its details and set the stage for ALL THE FIGHTING and political intrigue of the Trojan War in the second half.

I admit it, I've never read The Iliad. I had to read The Odyssey three times between high school and the undergraduate college years, and that sucked away some of my enthusiasm for epic poetry and mythology in general. But, I have to say, this book has really made me interested in the Trojan War and what I've missed by not reading more about it!

I'm really not doing this one justice. There's just so much to enjoy--the relationships, the action, the way Miller fleshes out a relationship and characters who were only sketches in their original mythological tellings. She truly breathes life and emotion into this story, and it was one I could not put down.



And if you hadn't heard already, Miller has a new short story available now! It's a retelling of the Galatea story, also from mythology. I've pre-ordered, and I'm ready to read



Pub. Date: August 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: E-book
ISBN: 9780062060624
Source:  Purchased by moi!



31 comments:

  1. This is a book I've been wanting to read forever, I think Rebecca recommended it to me. I'm glad you enjoyed it too. I better read this soon :)

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    1. It's sooo gooood. I hope you can squeeze it in soon!

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  2. Great review, Andi. Must add to my list. Hope you'll enjoy the novella as well!

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    1. I hope I do, too! I've always enjoyed the Galatea story, so I think it'll be good.

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  3. I swear, I'll get to it sooner or later. It sounds fab.

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  4. The Song of Achilles has gotten serious love but I'm a little leery since I don't love historical fiction or mythology.

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    1. Hmmm, it might not be your cup of tea then. The relationship and the character development are great, but the history and mythology are inescapable.

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  5. I'm nervous to read this book. Not because I think I won't like it - I'm fairly positive I'll love it. I'm more worried about my bookclub reading this one and hating it. Every time I pick a book I think they'll love - that the rest of the world has loved - they trash it lovingly, haha. We shall see in November.

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    1. I e-mailed you personally about this one. I have all the opinions. lol

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  6. Lovely review :) Ohhh this book! I LOVED IT WITH MY WHOLE HEART! I read it right before I started blogging and it might have been the one that pushed me into the blogging world. I NEEDED TO TALK ABOUT IT WITH SOMEONE ;) I'm so super glad you liked it!

    I didn't know she had a short story available..hmmm

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    1. Me too! And I can imagine that this one would pushing me into HAVING TO TALK ABOUT IT with someone re: blogging.

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  7. Great review! This has been on my list of books that I want to read for ages. It's even possible if I looked on my Kindle the book is there. Lol.

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    1. LOL, I know how that goes. I hope you like it when you get 'round to it.

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  8. Isn't this a wonderful book? I love how the Gods came to life. Great review!

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    1. It IS! And yes, the gods came to life so nicely. Thetis was a pill!

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  9. I think it is impossible to do this book justice without just talking about it forever. And many hand gestures. And perhaps a few sneaky tears. Because it is just that good.

    There is a short story??!! Oh my days, I need this.

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    1. INDEED you are correct about all the things. Much gesturing needs to happen.

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  10. I so loved this book--it's probably my favorite read of the year so far. I saw that she has a new story coming out and will definitely have to read that one, too. It will go well with my classics club mythology reading. :)

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  11. I had some problems with it but for the most part I loved it.

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  12. I need to go back and give this a re-read. I remember the writing being GORGEOUS in the beginning and then about a third of the way through I started to get really bogged down and had a hard time finishing it. There must have been something going on with me at the time...I think it deserves a second chance.

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  13. What? New Madeline Miller? I want to go to there!

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  14. I've never read The Iliad either... Just The Odyssey in high school, and The Aeneid in 8th grade (which is where kiddo's name comes from).

    Galatea looks amazing!!!

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  15. Wow! Lots of rave reviews for this book that I've managed to ignore. Excellent review, Andi. I'll take a peek at the book next week when I return to work. Any input on whether I should read the print version vs. audio?

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  16. Yay, you loved it! :)
    And I did not know about the short story, which I have just downloaded onto my kindle and will be reading later on.

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  17. If you don't feel like Homer, can I recommend Virgil? The Aeneid was unfinished when he died (alas), but it's really good AND it gives you the Trojan War from the Trojan side. Which, really, I don't know why anyone's ever on the side of the Greeks. The Greeks have one awesome guy (Odysseus), and the Trojans have Hector and Hecuba and Andromache and Cassandra and EVERYONE I like. (Except Paris. He's awful.)

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  18. I had no idea she had another one coming out! Must get it as soon as possible.

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  19. I loved Song of Achilles so much my review basically just yelled at people to read it. If only every love story was like this one, I'd be a romance fan!

    Thanks for sharing about her short story! I had no idea she had one out.

    -Rebecca @ Love at First Book

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  20. I really enjoyed this one but I was left with the nagging feeling that it might disappoint on a reread? I don't know. I am very glad I read it though!

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  21. I loved The Song of Achilles, too! Really enjoyed Jenny's review, though, as she did NOT like it, and was quite good explaining why.

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  22. Pretty sure this one is languishing on my kindle - I think I need to start reading all the books I'm "saving for a rainy day" at some point...

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