I know, I know. I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but that’s exactly what I did this time around. It’s a striking cover; black with gold foil. It jumps off bookshelves and begs to be read.

Happily, the story lives up to the expectations set by the cover design. As you might have guessed, it’s about the Greek goddess, Circe (SIR-see).

Author Madeline Miller goes against conventional wisdom and chooses to tell us Circe’s life story from cradle to grave. (Usually, biographies focus on one part of a character’s life.) When you consider that a goddess is immortal, it will come as no surprise to learn that this book is one hefty read.

If your Greek mythology is a little rusty, don’t worry. You don’t actually have to know any of it to enjoy the novel. But if you do know the stories, you’ll enjoy hearing them for a minor character’s point of view. More importantly, from an independent female point of view. This is what makes Circe special within Greek mythology; she’s independent and a witch—according to Miller, the first witch in western literature.

Since Circe is a secondary character, and one who spends most of her existence in solitary exile on the island of Aeaea (eye-EYE-a), if you prefer plot-driven stories, you might want to give this book a pass. It’s a little light in that department (ironic, given that it’s a story about Greek gods, goddesses and monsters).

However, if you’re looking for a book to have next to your favourite chair on those long, cold winter nights, this might be just the thing for you. Who better to read about, as you curl by a roaring fire, than a daughter of Helios?

Available in print, digital and audio versions. Visit your local library or click here to buy the ebook. If your library doesn’t carry this book, ask them to order it.

Audiobook Review

Narrated by Perdita Weeks, the audio version of Circe is quite good indeed! It’s been a busy few weeks for me so this month, I listened to the book club pick rather than read it. Perdita and Madeline got me through quite a bit of housework—thanks, ladies!

(P.S. I am absolutely stealing the name Perditafor a character in one of my own novels.)

About the author 

Valerie Francis

Valerie Francis is a bestselling author, literary editor, and podcaster with a passion for stories by, for and about women.

Each month, Valerie recommends books from literature’s best female authors. Selections come from every genre because women write, and read, in every genre. The Women’s Fiction category offers up some terrific novels, but these days there’s a strong female presence in thriller, horror, crime, and other genres traditionally dominated by male writers. No matter what the publishing companies may think, in the 21st Century, Women’s Fiction is whatever we want it to be.

stories for women, by women, and about women