Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Book review: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Forgive me for this, because I am going to totally relish this post. For anyone who has ever spoken to me directly about books before, you may ignore this because you already know how much I adore this book, so continue on down the page to the next literary genius that I am serving.
Anyway, for those of you who are new, firstly welcome, and secondly I am demanding that you go now and buy this book. And I will tell you for why...
One perk of being a bookseller is proof copies!! And for anyone who doesn't know what that means, it is simply the manuscript of the book before the publishing date. So when the longlist for the Orange Prize came through to us lovely booksellers, this title jumped out at me because I love anything Ancient Greece. Essentially The Song of Achilles is a reworking of The Iliad that took Miller 10 years of research and love to craft and you really get a feeling of this in the writing. Every sentence is there because it needs to be and you can literally feel the love that she has poured into every character and every scene in this novel. It's the story of the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, who narrates the book, from when they meet each other as young boys to when they go off to Troy.
Miller beautifully manages to capture the essence of first love, through young love and on to legendary love. Her characters are truthful and solid, and her story is fleshed out, thought through and well informed. You can tell Miller has put all her love into this.
Since I read this book, I recommend it to everyone (I literally mean everyone) who is looking for a good read, and as I say - that's a great part of my job. What makes it brilliant is that, and this still happens to me now, people come back to me to tell me how much they have enjoyed it. And that is down to the book, not my recommending skills (even though they're good too).
This went on to win the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012, and I was absolutely thrilled. Congrats on the win Madeline, and congrats on giving me a book that I will treasure.

The back blurb if you please:

"Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles's mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear."

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