Please welcome Chrys from the SQA Book Group:
This month we gave everyone the option of reading either The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller or The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Of course, I read both and am happy to say both were excellent!
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
I loved this book so much I didn’t want it to end!
At school I had a ‘classical education’. Whilst I only did one year of Ancient History, I studied Latin for 5 years and did a term or two of Ancient Greek. I was always totally obsessed with Troy: the place (which I’ve since visited), the history, the myths, legends and stories. I read The Iliad, Odyssey and Aeneid in English and some of it in Latin – loved it all. This book fits perfectly into that niche. It gives the Greek characters a back story and is written in a similar style too.
It’s centred on the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus and the author has an interesting spin on what that relationship was. Other stories have them as friends, comrades even cousins – who knows what Homer was really suggesting in his writing? It’s not as if any of them are really historical characters (although Alexander the Great claimed to be descended from Achilles via Neoptolemus – solely to add to his legend I suspect). The stories the author weaves in this book give some context to the events as described by Homer: Achilles’ relationship with the other Kings & Princes; why he was so upset about the taking of Briseis, why he was so enraged by the death of Patroclus, etc. etc.
All beautifully done.
Oh and don’t think that you need to have read all the epics to be able to enjoy this book. It works perfectly as a stand alone story, you don’t need to know all the myths and legends to be able to enjoy a swords & sandals romp.
A worthy winner of this year’s Orange Prize for Fiction and was my favourite book of the year… but then I read The Night Circus…
[Dear readers, tune in again next week to find out what Chrys thought of The Night Circus]