Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Circe, by Madeline Miller (author), Perdita Weeks (narrator)

Hachette Audio, ISBN 9781478975311, May 2018

Circe is a nymph, a minor goddess, a daughter of the sun god, Helios, the most powerful of the Titans, and a nymph who maneuvered Helios into marrying her. Circe, though, unlike her siblings, has merely human-level beauty of face and voice, and is mocked and disdained by her family. Finding companionship among humans leads to falling in love with a human.

Circe also, lacking the divine powers of the Titans and Olympians, finds her way to a source of power forbidden to the gods--witchcraft.

This in turn leads to her using witchcraft to elevate her human lover to divine status--leading to the start of a really painful education for Circe.

This is the story of Circe, from Circe's point of view. Banished to the island of Aiaia for the crime of witchcraft, she cannot leave the island, but long periods of solitude are interrupted by not necessarily welcome visits by a wide array of visitors. Life is not safe for a woman alone; her status alone does not protect her, and her witchcraft requires more thought and preparation than the instantly available divine powers her siblings and cousins have. Hermes, Daedalus, Odysseus, and many others come to her island, both as friends and as enemies. 

The stories of Circe's life on Aiaia are stories we've read or heard before, but always from the outside--from the perspective of the men. This is the woman's perspective, a woman's efforts to survive, thrive, and make a life for herself, despite all the authority figures in her life deeming her unworthy. It is, in many ways, a story of learning to become fully human--and recognizing the remarkably stunted social and moral development of the gods. It's an excellent reworking of the stories we read and studied as classics.

Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

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