Yes, Circe is a figure in Greek mythology – but no, you do not have to know Greek mythology to appreciate Circe, by Madeline Miller. This story stands alone. It is rich, intriguing, and wonderful.
Circe is the witch of Aeaea, one of many daughters of Helios, the God of the sun, but she never quite fits with her father’s world. Banished from his palace and exiled to her island, she makes a fascinating life there, discovering the island and her power. The story is told through her eyes and mind.
And yes, this story is set in a mythological world that should be so old as to be irrelevant to us today. But Circe is not. Here is a story of a strong female who slowly but surely finds her power in an unwelcoming world. This is totally modern, is it not?
The writing here is exquisite. We are in the mind of this goddess, right from the start. Ms. Miller brings to life not only Circe, but other peripheral characters, like Odysseus, Penelope, and Hermes, whose names I know. That said, Circe is the star. Through the entire time I was reading this book, I was with her on her island, along with her family angst, her lovers, her son and her magic. I miss her now.