FICTION//The Song of Achilles- Madeline Miller

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I read so much that very few books have such a huge impact on me that I can’t stop thinking about it. I certainly wasn’t expecting a book I bought ages ago because it was cheap on Kindle to completely shell-shock me. This is one of those books that very much deserves the hype and I now envy anyone who has yet to read it.

The story of Achilles is one that most of us have a passing knowledge of, whether it’s the term ‘Achilles heel’, or the story of the Trojan horse, or we saw that terrible film in which Brad Pitt had a mullet. (I also have a soft spot for the Horrible Histories sketch in which Helen of Troy and Menelaus are basically stroppy teenagers…)

But this is the story of Achilles as a man, rather than a demi-god, told by Patroclus. After he is exiled as a child due to the killing of another boy, Patroclus’ fate becomes entwined with Achilles. The two young men- one beautiful and charismatic and the other quieter and determined- forge their lives together, despite a devastating prophecy and the mother from hell. There’s a wise old centaur, a jealous king and angry gods- this is Greek mythology re-told for a modern audience and it feels modern too.

I adored this. It’s so beautifully written and, even though I knew the ending was coming, I was in for the ride. In fact, I only half joked that one of the benefits of insomnia meant I could stay up and read it. It’s no small thing to say that the ending devastated me and I have thought about this novel everyday since I finished it. I have Madeline Miller’s second novel Circe to read, but I can’t quite bring myself to read it.

I can only bear my heart to be broken once a week.

 

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