Online Reading Challenge – May Wrap-Up

Hello Fellow Fans of Reading!

How was your May reading? Did you find something incredible that was set in Ancient times? Or was this month a pass for you?

May was almost a pass for me – I rarely read anything set in this time period. I wasn’t coming across anything that grabbed my attention until I picked up the new book by Madeline Miller and just like that, May turned into another winner for me! (so far I’m five out of five this year!)

Circe is about the Greek goddess of sorcery. She is often depicted as cruel and evil, turning people who displease her into animals or monsters. But Circe is told from her point-of-view and, while she isn’t exactly a kind and gentle spirit, there is a lot more to her story than pure evil.

Born to the sun god Helios, Circe grows up in her father’s vast palace and wants for nothing. However, she is different than the nymphs and naiads of her family and is treated with derision. When she defies the gods once too often (turning a nymph she is jealous of into a monster) her father exiles her to a remote island. Here she must live alone and it is here that she hones her skills as a witch.

Although she is in exile, the world comes to her again and again. We see her encounters with Prometheus, with Daedelus and Icarus, with Odysseus and Penelope and her confrontation with Scylla (the monster she created). Circe grows and changes with her exile, regrets past mistakes and tries to atone for them. She is complicated and multi-layered, neither entirely good or bad, much like us mere mortals.

This book is incredibly well written. There is lots of beautiful imagery, but this does not drag down or slow the flow of the story. The stories of the gods themselves, as it has been for centuries, are compelling. Miller’s twist, to see it from Circe’s point-of-view, creates lots of new insights into these beings – they are selfish, egotistical, dysfunctional, vain and cruel (many of the mortal heroes are no better, especially Odysseus). That Circe has her eyes opened to these faults and tries to rise above them makes her unique and interesting. Highly recommended.

Now it’s your turn – what did you read in May?

3 thoughts on “Online Reading Challenge – May Wrap-Up

  1. Circe sounds wonderful. It isn’t a book I would likely pick up while browsing, but what a compelling review! Adding it to my “to read” list…..
    I struggled with a choice for this month as well, and finally picked up one of the novels written by Kathleen O’Neal and Micheal Gear found on display at Eastern Avenue Library. It took a few chapters to get into the rhythm of the writing, and to keep all of the characters straight, but then I was hooked.
    Both of the authors have credentials in anthropology and history. Both have done field work in archaeology and both have a love of the land. This formal training combined with an engaging writing style certainly work together to create a story rich in detail as well as a sense of historical accuracy.
    This story itself is gripping. When Yellowtail Village is attacked and children taken as slaves, war chief Karacoo and her husband Gonda vow to track the attackers and rescue them. What unfolds is no ordinary capture, but a mystery so horrific that it will take representatives of more than one tribe to unravel. We are left with the sense that there is potential for warring tribes to come together in light of this situation, but also that there is more fighting to be done.
    Just picked up the second book in the series….

  2. This is not a time period I would normally choose as well but I managed to find a book I really liked. I read “Mistress of Rome” by Kate Quinn. This was the first in the series and while I enjoyed this book it is doubtful I will read anymore in the series!

  3. I agree, this is not a time period I usually read and I’m unlikely to seek out more. But I did enjoy “Circe” and glad that I read it – the power of a book club (online or in person) is that it can nudge you, however briefly, out of your comfort zone. Thanks for reading with us! Ann

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