Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday Morning Must-Read: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Read the first chapter at Bloomsbury Publishing.

 The Song of Achilles came out earlier this month, so I'm re-posting my December review to remind you that if you do not get your own copy a.s.a.p., you will miss a stellar read.

Why must you read this novel? First and foremost, The Song of Achilles is one of those rare novels during which you immediately and persistently feel that blissful tension between

"I want to race through this page-turner as fast as I humanly can, it's so amazing!"


"I want to ration every page, every syllable so I can keep reading this book forever and never get to the end!"

That's a once or thrice a year phenomenon for me, and if that's true for you too, The Song of Achilles will likely enchant you.

What's it about?  Simple. It's a modern retelling of the life of Achilles, the great Greek hero of the Trojan War, as seen through the eyes of his best friend, Patroclus.  Their enduring and complex love for each other is cast against the dire machinations of their compatriots (and enemies) in this Iliad for our age.  Jealousy and passion, blood and desire and coming-of-age in a complex world of gods and men: that's what it's about too.

If all that doesn't set you leaping to pre-order, how about these additional features?
  • The fast-moving plot that intensifies and deepens page by page
  • Miller's clean, clear prose style enriched by the occasional gorgeous turn of phrase and rich-but-not-heavy-handed imagery, symbolism
  • It's an engrossing re-telling of a classic (The Iliad) that we all probably should have read by possibly didn't (I did, but hated it compared with The Odyssey) yet offered in a writing style and syntax that makes the content not merely interesting and accessible but provocatively contemporary as well.
  • It may challenge and deepen your ideas about the nature of love and war.  Certainly, you'll reflect on these twin pillars of human nature again and again as you read.
  • Miller's characters, fully drawn, carry their mythic personas into our contemporary world with perfect ease and relevance.
So then, the first book on your Spring 2012 list must be The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.  Do stop by in March to let me know how much you loved it too!



As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

Every time I read one of your reviews, I feel shamed. Shamed, I say. Especially when it's of a book that I read, too, and also posted a review. Comparisons are odious (and odorus, as Dogberry would have it), but I can't help always comparing my reviews to yours and finding mine wanting in almost every way.

You've captured this book brilliantly and I agree with every superlative that you've heaped upon it. Just read it, folks. Just read it.

Laurie said...

E, you are too kind. Seriously. And comparisons are indeed both. Truth is, I often feel the same way about your posts and wonder how you find the time and energy to create such lively prose on a regular basis. Let's just keep appreciating each other!
It was indeed a worthy novel.

Anonymous said...

I've just left responses to your comments re: Sacred Harp over at

I've also realized that I left those comments while logged into my new blog, and I don't know if you'll get an email unless it's registered as a response from the blog itself.

Forgive me if you've gotten the memo (I've been harping about it for weeks), but:

I've moved to my own domain, and will be blogging there from now on. You can find me at

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and I hope your blogging hiatus isn't too long! :)

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