As a book end to September, I’d like to look back on the books I’ve read this month, and what I thought of them. Over summer I was lost in a Greek mythology spiral which carried over into September. I can now say I’ve officially read the Odyssey, and I’m planning to go backwards and read the Iliad soon too. See below what else I’ve read this month.
Circe, Madeline Miller
I can blame Madeline Miller for setting me off on my very own Odyssey. I read Song of Achilles by Miller last month and found it brilliant, full of love and beautiful characterisation of the Greek characters. So next it was into Circe, which has been all over Instagram because of its shiny gold cover. It did not disappoint! This story of Circe’s life was passionate, filling the gaps of the Odyssey with a feminist perspective. I adored Circe and the ending that Miller gave her.
The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood
This is another feminist perspective of women from the Odyssey. This time Margaret Atwood writes from Odysseus’s wife Penelope’s perspective, and gives her the strong and thoughtful voice that you would expect from Atwood. Atwood’s Penelope grapples with her son Telemachus killing twelve maids, slaves, who were under Penelope’s care and were raped by Penelope’s suitors in Odysseus’s absence. She feels immense guilt that she wasn’t able to save these girls, who now avoid her in the Underworld. I am so pleased that I read The Penelopiad and Circe together, because I was able to see two women writer’s perspectives of Penelope. They handled her in different ways but both made her a strong and independent character. The Penelopiad is only a short novella, so it’s easy to read in one sitting, and I’d highly recommend it.
Girl meets boy, Ali Smith
In my quest to devour everything Greek this month, I also picked up Ali Smith’s novella, Girl meets boy, which is a modern twist on a Greek tale from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. I’m not as familiar with these stories as I am with the Greek heroes of Homer, but Smith’s story is so heavily planted in modern day that I don’t think there’s a need to understand the original myths. As anything that Smith writes, she focuses passionately on British systems of class and gender and power. I love seeing how Smith plays with her words and always enjoy her writing, even if I often find it challenging.
The Dutch House, Ann Patchett
I’ve never read anything by Ann Patchett, although I’ve seen her name swinging around lists of award winning novelists. But after reading an excerpt of the first chapter on Stylist, I knew I had to grab this book straight away. I was already enraptured by the character of Maeve, and throughout the novel I absolutely fell in love with her. This book felt like it was on the brink of tragedy the whole time, and so it kept me in a constant state of suspense while I read it. It was beautifully written, and makes me want to pick up more of Patchett’s writing.
So, what books have you been reading this month?