Orange Reading: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles - Madeline MillerThe Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
Bloomsbury, 2011

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The Iliad and The Odyssey have been sitting on my shelf for a while now. I am ashamed to say that I never really had much interest in reading them. I know. Homer! First historian! One of those “stories of stories”! And yet.. nope, never really interested me.

The Song of Achilles, however? Why should not I be interested? It won this year’s Orange Prize, it is universally loved by bloggers.. I could not wait until my hold would finally come in at the library.

Can I give you the short version? I loved this. I started reading. I could hardly put it down. I stayed up ’till far past midnight in order to know what would happen, how it would happen, even though I knew what would happen, even though I knew we would irrevocably come to that tragic ending. And yet, I loved every page along the way of getting to that end. I loved the end, even though it had me in tears.

If ever a book had me interested in reading the original, it is this one, for this version of Achilles and Patroclus’ life before and during the Trojan war is stellar.

There is just one question that has been nagging at me these past weeks months since finishing the book. Yes, it was definitely one of the top reads of this year, and apparently I am not alone given the praise it receives everywhere.. But I often find that books like this one, that have me feverishly obsessed with the characters and the story and the prose, have me questioning if, when I return to it one day, I will find it as good and as beautiful. Because stories like this can feel a little bit like a dream, that is too easily popped. I hope that won’t turn out to be the case for The Song of Achilles. I even feel a little guilty for daring to mention it.

Other Opinions: Savidge Reads, The Allure of Books, Vulpes Libris, Rivers I Have Known, Novel Insights, A Fiction Habit, Devourer of Books, A Work in Progress, Page247, Always cooking up something, She Reads Novels, Fleur Fisher, The parenthesis and the footnote, nomadreader, Sam Still Reading, Killin’ Time Reading, Buried in Print, The Literary Stew, Fizzy Thoughts, The Broke and the Bookish, Farm Lane Books Blog, Musings, Gossamer Obsessions.
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19 thoughts on “Orange Reading: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

  1. harvee

    I have heard such good things about this, and I have a copy to read. I feel I have to be in the right mood for the book, with plenty of quiet and time. Nice review.

    Reply
  2. sakura

    I think because we already knew the story of Achilles and Patroclus, it’s Miller’s style and delivery that made us fall in love with her book. It’s one of my favourite books of this year too!

    Reply
  3. Laura

    I loved this too, it will likely be my favorite book of the year (my review is here). After finishing it, it took a long time for me to leave the characters behind, and be able to concentrate on another book.

    Reply
  4. therelentlessreader

    This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. It’s probably the best love story in the world too..in my little opinion. ;) I don’t know that I’d dare re-read it…the first read was so great that I think I’ll just keep my memories.

    Reply
  5. Nicole

    I loved this one too. I listened to the audio and it was definitely one of those books where I made time outside of my regular listening times to finish this books. It is a really beautiful story. I think it is one of those that will hold up to re-reading.

    Reply
  6. Marie

    The subject matter of this doesn’t really appeal to me but every review I’ve read of it has been absolutely glowing so I am becoming more and more tempted to read it! I don’t think every book has to hold up to re-reading to be a firm favourite, though. Sometimes it’s all about the reading experience and the ‘place’ you were in when you first read it.

    Reply
  7. Helen

    Like you, I’ve never had much interest in reading The Iliad or The Odyssey but I still loved this book. I had been worried that I might find it hard to understand because of my limited knowledge of Greek mythology, so I was surprised by how accessible it was. The writing is so beautiful too!

    Reply
  8. Terri B.

    It is a good sign that this book made you want to read Homer! I’m like you in that I worry when I love a book so much; I worry too that I won’t love it as much on a re-read. Of course, a re-read will never be the same as a first read. Some of the “romance” with the book will be lost to me, but I always hope I can love it just as much … just differently :)

    Reply
  9. buriedinprint

    I agree with TheRelentlessReader that the love story is remarkable; it is what kept me reading. And I did NOT know the ending (loved mythology in school, but have forgotten most of it by now) so whatever appeal I personally found in the story wasn’t rooted in either the familiarity or the interest related to the slant of her retelling. I simply enjoyed the story and, like you, read it in less than 24 hours, putting everything else aside. (Thanks for linking to my thoughts on the book.)

    Reply
  10. The Literary Omnivore

    Thank you for reminding me of the name of this book! I saw it in People, meant to write it down, and forgot.

    And I know what you mean about revisiting a text, but remember, you’ll never experience it the way you did this reading ever again. That’s the wonderful thing about reading; since you, as a human being, are constantly changing (change is the only constant!), your readings will always change.

    Reply
  11. nomadreader

    Glad you finally got to this one! Of the six on the shortlist, it was my least favorite, but I still liked it and recall it well. I am quite curious what Miller will do next.

    Reply
  12. Jenny

    Your cover is different to the one I’ve seen! I like yours better. The blue one is too brilliant, I feel like I’m being blinded. Good to have another rave review to add to my feeling that I must read this.

    That said, you have to read Homer. He’s so good. You will be surprised at how great he is, honestly. Just don’t make yourself read all of it at once, right? Read a bit every day. What translation do you have? You want Fagles. Fagles is the one.

    Reply
  13. Pingback: Happy 2013! (And belated goodbye to 2012) | Iris on Books

  14. Pingback: Final Discussion #AchilleSong | Care's Online Book Club

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