… Circe by Madeleine Miller – the story behind the goddess of Greek myth. It starts a little slowly and weirdly but if you press on you are rewarded with a gripping and emotionally complex story.
In one of the brief periods when I was awake and genuinely engaged with my English Literature degree, I remember reading someone declaring that Milton was “audacious” to attempt to conjure up the voices of angels and the voice of God in Paradise Lost, but that he ultimately pulled it off and you can’t imagine angels or the voice of God sounding any other way.
Circe performs the same trick – how would the voice of Helios sound? What would Dedalus be like? In quiet moments, how would Odysseus talk? Having read this and also her previous modern masterpiece, The Song of Achilles, I feel very much the same way. It’s an absurd, daring undertaking – but it works.
You don’t need any previous knowledge of the story to appreciate this book – my knowledge is pretty good but I constantly forget who turned whom into a swan or WTF exactly was Kronos, what is the difference between an Olympian and a Titan etc, and I had Wikipedia on hand as a sort of explicatory text.