Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Beachreader)

Title:  The Song of Achilles
Author:  Madeline Miller
Published:  2012, Ecco/Harper Collins Publisher
Genre:  Myth
Accolades:  2012 Orange Prize

In this seemingly flawless account of the myth of Achilles Madeline Miller has given us a new viewpoint of the Trojan War and it's hero Achilles as seen through the eyes of Achilles' companion and lover, Patroclus.

I love Greek mythology, and found The Song of Achilles to be a fascinating retelling of Homer's The Iliad.  I was really surprised that I could not put this book down and had to finish it in one day - especially since I knew how it would end.  I think what makes this story so good is that it is a well-written love story that captivates with it's depth and honesty.  This is Patroclus' song for Achilles - the love of his young life.

Miller mixes the love story with rich visual details of a Greece where gods and men interact with each other and shows us a time when honor and glory meant more than life.  If I have a problem with this book, it is a small one.  Patroclus comes off as rather wimpy.  In classic Greek myth Patroclus was a brave and powerful warrior in his own right.  Miller didn't have to make Patroclus weak to make Achilles appear strong.  Achilles was half-god - no one was stronger.

That is my analytical self speaking.  What's most important is that I thoroughly enjoyed this lyrical and magical book about a love that transcends time and is worthy of the gods.

Jacques-Louis David, Patroclus, 1780

1 comment:

J.L. Campbell said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. It sounds like a good read. I'm not crazy about the cover of the book though.