I pre-ordered Circe on Kindle back in spring. I only picked it up on New Year’s, and wow, am I glad I started the year with it. There’s not much left to add – everyone has been praising Circe for months, and they are absolutely right to do so. So, this will be a short list of thoughts, mainly reasons why I adored this one.
I first met Circe in high school, when we were studying Homer’s Odyssey. Admittedly, she’s not portrayed well there. She’s a witch that turns men into pigs, and then is so taken aback by Odysseus’ intelligence that she falls in love with him. An intelligence that is not even his and is essentially given to him by Hermes. With that in mind, I cheered for the depth Miller gives Circe.
Here are some top-level thoughts:
- Circe is a tender soul growing up in an abusive environment full of arrogant, mean-spirited and delusional Titans, Gods, and demigods. She is taunted and disregarded, emotionally and physically abused, and, yet, she is more courageous and honest, and definitely stronger in spirit. Although she might not know it in the beginning, her strength shines through and leads her to the initial display of power that leads to her exile.
- She feels so pure, so trusting, so open, even in her PTSD when the first send her to Aiaia. And then men happen and tear her down again. Trauma after trauma, Circe persists and the good in her does not die.
- Miller portrays motherhood beautifully (from my non-expert perspective). Protectiveness, desperation, love, women ready to tear down the world for their children and imperfect at the same time. Love is never perfect.
- I also freaking loved the secondary female characters. Pasiphae was brutal, but it was her way of surviving abuse and a male-dominated pantheon. Match their monstrosity and you might just make it. Penelope was a quiet power, but, I said I’ll keep it short, so, final notes.
Circe and men:
- Circe hit it and quit it. I was a big fan of the way she used her relationship with Hermes to care for her needs and nothing more. Similarly with Odysseus, she was fully aware of what the relationship was at all times. Additionally, she did not seem all that surprised with how Odysseus turned out.
- Which brings me to my last note. How happy it made me to see the effects of the war and the 10-year hell-ride home on Odysseus. The one thing the stories never told us, how did his mind survive all the torment. He wasn’t even a really good man to begin with, just decent and witty in comparison to the sleazebags that surrounded him in Troy.
I could go on about Circe for a long time. Instead, I’m going to wrap it up here and just say that it’s a ride worth taking. This is one perfect example where the hype was worth it.