The Song of Achilles


It's not often that my younger daughter will wander through the living room, pick up a book I'm reading and say, 'Oh, I've heard about this.' The Song of Achilles has been an internet sensation. Between my borrowing it from the library and returning it, seven reserve requests had built up!

I decided to read The Song of Achilles after enjoying Madeline Miller's Circe, her second book, on the recommendation of my book club; but I think I ended up enjoying The Song of Achilles even more. I can certainly see why it's been such a hit with young adult readers. It's a vivid same-sex romance -- very sexy! -- set in ancient Greece, incorporating plenty of rich everyday detail but also a satisfying amount of interaction with the gods and spirits to create a wonderfully immersive alternate world.

The Trojan War dragged on for ten long years but we don't embark on the war itself until halfway through the book, and the long stay is mostly skimmed over. Miller uses the brilliant device of allowing us to continue to see the action even after our narrator Patroclus' death, as an unburied spirit lingers in our world and can still see the action. (Surely the name Patrick derives from Patroclus? I haven't been able to find confirmation of this anywhere but it must be true!)

The Song of Achilles is a thrilling retelling of a classic love story, and it truly does these shining young men justice.

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