A story about Circe, daughter of Helios, God of the sun and how she grows as a person and develops her powers. It is fascinating from start to finish. The author brings Greek mythology to life in this beautifully written and very engaging tale. Circe by Madeline Miller.  #fiction, #reading, #books to read, #books #Greek mythology


By Madeline Miller

PBR Book Review:

The writing in this book is rich and intense, making you want to read slowly so you catch every word. But at the same time, you are entranced by the story and Greek mythology so you want to read as fast as you can. I loved this book from cover to cover and couldn't put it down. Circe is the daughter of Helios, God of the sun. But she doesn't seem to have the same powers as the other Gods and therefore never quite fits in.

She displeases her father and is sent to live alone in exile on an island - for eternity. Here she discovers her real powers. Her story of self-discovery is wonderful. The author also introduces other characters from Greek mythology, like Zeus, Odysseus, and Hermes.

But this book is not just about Greek mythology, it about Circe's transformation into a person of substance. It's also about forgiveness and determination. I couldn't help but compare this book with some of the episodes on the PBS series ANCIENT ALIENS. If you enjoyed this story you may want to check out the reruns on this TV series- especially the chapters that talk about the Gods. Excellent book and series! Highly recommend both.

Book Club Talking Points:

This is a captivating but a timeless story about characters from Greek mythology. And yes, it's fascinating to read about all the Greek Gods, but there is much more to discuss. Like Circe's relationship with both her father and her brother. She is also known as the witch who turns men into pigs. If you are familiar with the PBS series Ancient Aliens, it would be interesting to compare how the Gods are presented in both the book and the TV series.
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*Discussion Questions

1) Circe struggles to find a place for herself as a woman in a man's world. What parts of her experience resonate with modern day challenges that women face?

2) A central theme of Homer's Odyssey is a longing for "nostos"-homecoming. In what way does that theme resonate with Circe's story?

3) How does Circe's encounter with Prometheus change her? How does it continue to affect her actions?

4) Throughout the novel Circe draws distinctions between gods and mortals. How does Glaucus change when he becomes a god?

5) Circe wonders if parents can ever see their children clearly. She notes that so often when looking at our children "we see only the mirror of our own faults." What parts of herself does she see when she looks at Telegonus? What are her strengths and weaknesses as a parent to him?

6) Circe's sister Pasiphae begins the novel as a major antagonist. How does our perspective of her change after Circe's visit to Crete?

7) How does her time with Daedalus affect Circe?

8) Circe begins the novel feeling very close to her brother Aeetes. Why do their paths diverge so wildly? Why do you think he make the choices he does?

9) Circe tells us that she recognizes parts of herself in Medea. In what ways are the two women similar? In what ways are they different?

10) Circe says to Telemachus "Do not try to take my regret from me." What does she mean by that? What role does regret play in the novel?

11) Circe says that when she first meets Odysseus he seems "nearly familiar" to her. Why does she say that? Who, if anyone, does he remind her of?

12) What is the significance of Circe's meeting with Trygon? How does it impact her emotional journey?

13) There are numerous references to crafts in the novel, including weaving, carpentry and metal-working. What role does craft play in Circe's story?

14) Circe is interested in Penelope from the moment she hears about her from Odysseus. What draws her to Penelope? Does this change over time?

15) Were you surprised when Telemachus refused Athena? Why or why not?

16) Circe encounters several famous figures from Greek myth. Were any of their portrayals surprising?

17) How does Circe's relationship with her father change over the course of the book? What do you make of their final conversation?

18) We see numerous powerful characters abusing their positions throughout the story. Are power and abuse necessarily connected? Are there any models for power without cruelty in the novel?

19) Circe's gift is transformation. How does she transform from the beginning of the novel to the end? Why does she ultimately choose the path she does?

(Discussion Questions by Author)

Book Summary
"A bold and subversive retelling of the goddess's story," this #1 New York Times bestseller is "both epic and intimate in its scope, recasting the most infamous female figure from the Odyssey as a hero in her own right" (Alexandra Alter, The New York Times).

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child-not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power-the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man's world.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER-NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR, The Washington Post, People, Time, Amazon, Entertainment Weekly, Bustle, Newsweek, the A.V. Club, Christian Science Monitor and Refinery 29, Buzzfeed, Paste, Audible, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Thrillist, NYPL, Self Real Simple, Goodreads, Boston Globe, Electric Literature, BookPage, the Guardian, Book Riot, Seattle Times, and Business Insider
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