Jan. 11th, 2013

commonpeople1: (Sea)
The Song of AchillesThe Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found this to be a beautiful and touching retelling of the mythological love between Achilles and his faithful companion Patroclus, from their first meeting as boys into their adulthood. Miller, an Ancient Greece scholar, poured into the novel all that is known about their lives and the roles they played in the Trojan War (as told in Homer's Iliad), with a bit of creative imagination thrown into the mix. Her style is very light, full of similes that evoke the period and the gods and entities that walked the land. She tells the story through Patroclus' eyes and by the end, as the Trojan war comes to life, you can't stop reading out of fear for what could happen to these characters you've grown to know and like.

Mary Renault, who also specialised in same-sex love stories (most famously the trilogy about Alexander the Great and Hephaestion's love) would have adored this novel. Maybe Miller is her natural successor? They are both fascinated by a long gone time when a man's love for another wasn't a problem as long as his duties to family and country were attended to. In Miller's novel you also get the added benefit of fantastical figures walking among men as portents of victories or disasters, or sometimes simply because they love too much the mortals they are bound to and can't escape them. This is Ancient Greece after all and tragedy is never too far away.

Teen girls have the fantastical creatures in "Twilight" to keep them up at night. Teen gay boys now have "The Song of Achilles", except that this is a very well written story that should please everyone, of all ages. I dare anyone not to be moved by the final page and I'm already playing cast director in my mind as to who should play these characters in the film version (which, if Zeus is fair, should already be in pre-production.)

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