Last week we met to discuss The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I had the privilege to hear Madeline Miller speak at The Gaithersburg Book Festival this summer. Several of us from The Friday Bookclub attended the festival and we thought that The Song of Achilles would be a good choice for our group. After hearing the author read from her book it was obvious that it was beautifully written and it was something different from what we had read in the past. It was not a depressing book, a common complaint. It was not about a dysfunctional family. It was not about someone dying of cancer and it was not another Holocaust book. How could a story about Greek Gods and Goddesses be anything but interesting?
The Song of Achilles is a modern version of the Iliad, told through the eyes of Patroclus, the son of the Greek King Menuetius. We first meet Patroclus as a young boy. He is a meek child, a misfit of sorts and a disappointment to his father. Menuetius has no patience for his son and when 10-year-old Patroclus accidently kills another boy, Menuetius sends him into exile. It is here, in the kingdom of Phthia that he meets Achilles. Achilles is everything Patroclus is not. He is strong, handsome, and confident. He is the son of the powerful sea goddess Thetis,
Patroclus and Achilles become the best of friends. We watch as their relationship blooms into something much more. We see them grow from childhood into adulthood. We follow them to Mount Pelion where we meet Master Chiron, the centaur who would be their teacher. Ultimately, we follow them into battle.
I loved this book. It was a beautiful retelling of the Trojan War and the events leading up to it. It was a beautiful love story. I wish however that I had known about the glossary in the book, before I started reading it. There were so many unfamiliar names and at times I had a difficult time remembering who was who. The glossary would have been a tremendous help and unfortunately I did not discover it until I read the very last page. This is one of the few times it would have been helpful to read the last pages first as a few of my book lover friends do!
Although we had a smaller group this month due to summer vacations, we had a fascinating discussion of the book. There were those who loved the book as I did, a few who did not even bother finishing it as they just could not get into it and a several somewhere in the middle. As my mother would say….. “That’s why they make chocolate and vanilla!”