Tag Archives: The Song of Achilles

Final Discussion #AchilleSong

Thoughts tsoabymm2 The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, ecco – Imprint of HarperCollins 2012, 378 pages

FIRST HALF of the discussion –> HERE <–

“Pride became us — heroes were never modest.”

I loved this. As do most of the people I encounter who have read this Orange Prize Winner. For a book to get me interested in reading Homer, KUDOs! And even though I was worried that my extraneous searching into the Greek Mythology (about half way through, I wrestled with the wonderings of missing something because I didn’t really know who Patroclus was or much at all about who Achilles was (other than Brad Pitt played him in a movie)) and then I was all worried that I RUINED it because I found out Pat AND Ach both DIE!!!!  But the ending still surprised me; I was so moved and touched and really grew to love Patroclus as much if not more than Achilles.

“As if in answer, the air changed. Bright sunlight broke and poured over Achilles, went rolling down his hair and back and skin, turning him to gold. He seemed suddenly larger, and his tunic, wrinkled from travel, straightened until it shown white and clean as a sail. His hair caught the light like buoyant flame.”  -p.192

Was there really a monument to both Achilles and Patroclus on a beach somewhere?

When on page 264, Thetis tells that the prophecy has changed, that the best of the Myrmidons will die before two more years have passed, I knew. I KNEW it was Patroclus. I was waiting to read that Achilles and even, Patrocles, would recognize this. But no. I liked it actually. It felt all the more real. You can’t accuse Miller of being an author who tells not shows.

“… hubris. Our word for arrogance that scrapes the stars, for violence and towering rage as ugly as the gods.” 

pieratingsml

Per the questions in the back of my edition of The Song of Achilles. Number 11: As represented in the novel, what are some of Odysseus’ defining qualities? Do you find him a sympathetic character? Why or why not?

YES. I always liked him in every scene. He is smart and clever but never cocky. He is always very careful. AND considerate. I am as much inclined to read The Odyssey now as I am to read The Iliad.

Question for you experts out there. Who is DAPHNE? Page 326, when Patroclus was being set up in Achilles’ armor and being warned to stay in the chariot, stay away from the archers on the wall of Troy, chase only and then come right back:

“The armor was stiff and heavy and unyielding. “I feel like Daphne,” I told him, barked up in her laurel skin.

If I had this as eBook, I would have searched for Daphne; did I miss something? Is this an isolated reference? Do tell.

pieratingsml

I thought the whole thing extremely well done. Five slices of Fig Pie.

Thanks everyone who participated and tweeted (and continues to tweet) along with us (hashtag #AchilleSong) !!

REVIEWS
Rhapsody in Books Jill says: “What a moving and memorable story this is. It is both a love story and a war story, and I think it will satisfy those who like either genre.”
Fizzy Thoughts Jill says: “…plenty to think on, and the more I think on it, the more I love it.”
Iris on Books
2606 Books and Counting…
The Bluestocking Society
Necromancy Never Pays

Watch for
Avid Reader‘s post on March 25th for GREEK WEEK: “Broke my heart. It’s the most humanizing telling of a Greek mythology story that I’ve ever read.” (Tweet)
Too Fond
Sharlene (Twitter profile)
Jenny’s Books – soon to read…
Between the Covers – currently reading…

and all the many reviews at Fyrefly’s Book Blog Search Engine…

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“There are too many of them,” he said. “It’s simpler if they just remember me.”

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Copyright © 2007-2013. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

First Half Discussion #AchilleSong

Greetings, Singers of The Song of Achilles!  tsoabymm2 tsoabymm by Madeline Miller. Got your lyre ready?

In my usual rambling style, I will offer questions, quotes I liked and interesting things of note that will encourage us to share what we are enjoying so for in the story and what we are not. I read the first half rather quickly – to Chapter 17: When Achilles and Patroclus arrive at the beach to meet Agamemnon, before they all set off for Troy. I was waiting to post this before I finish but am hoping it will be this afternoon!

I have read the P.S. included in my copy: the Meet the Author, Insights and Interviews, etc. Hope you have that, I hope to chat about that here, too.

FIRST. I must share that I barely know the Greek mythology. This may be obvious when I say that I do not know who Mary Renault is. The cover of my edition shows a quote by Emma Donoghue, “Mary Renault lives again!” and I have no clue who or what this Mary person is. In order to check my guess, I seek goodreads and find that Ms. Renault wrote historical fiction of ancient Greece. I actually might have heard of The King Must Die, not that I would have guessed it was about Theseus*. Has anyone read it? Want to? I think I might! so more books go onto the tbr… Ah, I see my imaginary (and very influential on my reading choices) friend Ruthiella has read this. Cool.

Second question, would you put The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller in the HISTORICAL FICTION category? Do we care? Must we genre-fy everything. (Perhaps that question is an aside best tackled another time.)

I have had the opportunity to listen to Madeline Miller speak at the 2012 Boston Book Festival and really enjoyed the talk and how she presented herself, how truly excited she is about this project of hers. Having taken 10 years to write and maybe I assume the getting it published time was added to that, the reception to this award-winning book must be a thrill and a half. I blame Softdrink’s review for first bringing this book to my attention and I know I must blame Miller herself for ensuring I WOULD read this. So thank you all again for joining me here.

Style. The prose has been said to by lyrical (appropriate, no?) and beautiful. At first encountering it, I was struck by how short and simple the sentence structure seems but the sentence and paragraph construction feels highly artistic and powerful. I marvel.

…, I would mumble from my bed, “Is she well?”

And he would answer. “Yes, she is well.” And he might add:  “The fish are thick today” or “The bay is warm as a bath.” And then we would sleep again.
~ p.52

Spoilers. If you know your Greek gods, you know how this story will progress. Actually, the story itself more than hints that Achilles will die. Do you think the author has balanced this well for those of us who may be murky on Achilles, the Trojan War and who is who? (I guess, I framed that question to say I would agree.)  She drops in the prophecy, “Hector’s death will be first.” in the conversation between Thetis and Patroclus so we know we can expect death.

Also, in the Q&A between Miller and Gregory Maguire, he asks a question about authorial decision. A long question about combining present and past tense and techniques that as a layperson like me would likely never notice consciously (which again would speak to the author’s skill) and then Miller complements him on ‘framing the question without spoilers’! I got excited all over again to keep reading but instead starting poking around at movies about Troy,

bpachill

and picked up on spoilers I kind of wish I hadn’t read/seen. Oh well. Discuss – CAN this book be spoiled?

Do you like Patroclus? Do you think he is ‘surprising’? Do you think he was ‘surprising’ because he was one boy who didn’t fawn all over Achilles AND that he had a reputation? It reminds me how we never want what is easy. We are always wanting the thing that is a little harder to get.

I love Achilles. Can’t help it. I love kids like him who are confident and don’t even know it. That are easy and smart and make eye contact. I love his father  — and boy-howdy, I did not like Patroclus’ father. I can’t help think of how much we shape our children with our expectations. Oh how subtle and obvious we are with our words and actions. “Why do you always screw up!”, “The teachers don’t get it that you have a learning disability and shouldn’t be expected to read this”, “You’ll make your best friends in college” etc…

Or has Achilles (ARISTOS ACHAION!!) already changed into something more egotistical with his choosing glory over a long life? DID he choose? or is he just embracing his destiny?

“Achilles nodded and bent over the lyre. I did not have time to wonder about his intervention. His fingers touched the strings, and all my thoughts were displaced. The sound was pure and sweet as water, bright as lemons. It was like no music I had ever heard before. It had warmth as a fire does, a texture and weight like polished ivory. It buoyed and soothed at once. A few hairs slipped forward to hang over his eyes as he played. They were fine as lyre strings themselves, and shone.” ~p.34

I’m seriously thinking I might want to read The Iliad.  I love books that only add more suggestions to my tbr.

SO FAR: My notes, trying to keep track…
Ch 1 – Son of kings, simple mother, smiling bride.
Ch 2 – Attempt to be suitor to King Tyndareus’ dot. Blood oath not to fight. (Proud of myself for thinking this important!)
Ch 3 – Killing the boy and banished. p.22 – meaning of Patroclus (“honor of the father” – ha! what was I just saying about expectations?)
Ch 4 – Meeting Achilles
Ch 5 – Therapon = companion. Confidence of a prince, “He is surprising.”
Ch 6 – Friendship (age 12) “Gods and mortals never mixed happily in our stories.” ~p.51
Ch 7 – The kiss
Ch 8 – The Centaur Chiron
Ch 9 – Learning from Chiron
Ch 10 – “She cannot see us here.” – whoa:  instant recognition of the weight of that statement!, pink quartz cave
Ch 11 – Called back to Phthia,“They never let you be famous and happy.” ~p.105
Ch 12 – Helen captured by Troy; Sycros/Lycomedes/Deidemeia & Achilles/Pyrrha (fire hair), Achilles swears to son. ~p.137 (LOTS happen in this chapter!)
Ch 13 – Deidemeia and Patroclus
Ch 14 –
Ch 15 –
Ch 16 –
Ch 17 –

WORDS
p.22  jape – to say something mockingly
p.127 moue – grimace or pout
p.144 craven – lacking the least bit of courage, contemptibly fainthearted, “as craven as you are ugly”
p.145 goad – something that pains as if by pricking

**

* I’m at risk of being deathly boring, I couldn’t tell you who Theseus is…

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2007-2013. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Song of Achilles Then Possession #AchilleSong #ReadByatt

We have begun the Read-Along of The Song of Achilles! tsoabymm2 Everyone and anyone is invited to join in and I will be posting my FIRST HALF THOUGHTs on Sunday, March 3. I will probably have the whole book read by then, it’s so good!

A final post will be March 10. Feel free to post your own or just join the discussions here. We are informal. I haven’t even bothered to make a button. Is that bad? No sign-ups, no prizes, no pressure.

We do have a hashtag if you want to twitter along and post the quotes you like or your progress or questions. #AchilleSONG.

In other news…

The hosts of the A.S. Byatt’s Possession Read-Along possbyasb will have an official post up soon and have tweeted that the first check-in will be for chapters 1 – 6 on March 11.  The twitter hashtag for that is #readByatt.  Thank you Kim! Thank you Lulu! I know many of you commented on my last unplugged post that you might be interested…
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Copyright © 2007-2013. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Announcing Song of Achilles Readalong #AchilleSong

Up for a flexible informal readalong, Anyone?

tsoabymm2

One of the tweeples I follow has expressed interest in reading The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. So I thought I would open it up to anyone else who might be interested in this (from what I hear) beautifully written interpretation of one of the stories in The Illiad.

We’ll be tweeting with hashtag #AchilleSong.

We don’t yet have a start date nor time frame – we are being FLEXIBLE. Flexibility is in order because Sharlene is in line to get the book from the library and we don’t really have any way to expect WHEN it will be available.

So, if you want to read this book and don’t mind the vague details of a readalong plan and could possibly start at a moment’s notice, then JOIN US!  We’re hoping sometime in February but it might be later.

tsoabymm

Last October, I attended a Boston Book Fest 2012 session featuring the author and a Harvard professor chatting about this book and I am really excited to see what is about. Maybe then I will have the courage to attempt The Illiad itself.

Leave a comment here or tweet at me @BkClubCare if you are interested and I’ll start a list.  Or watch the hashtag in Twitterville. If you don’t tweet and even if you don’t have a blog, you can always join the discussion here at Care’s Online Book Club. All are welcome.

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2007-2013. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.