Thursday Thoughts: Retelling of Old Tales

I have recently jumped on the bandwagon of becoming a little bit obsessed with the retelling of Greek myths.

Thanks to a buddy read during lockdown 1.0, I picked up ‘The Song of Achilles‘ by Madeline Miller and I absolutely loved it. I found the whole world a fascinating place, even if some of the attitudes were a little questionable. However, at the same time there were some really liberal ideas too. A great story and a great book discuss.

Next, I moved on to ‘Circe‘ also by Madeline Miller. What a strong powerful female lead we were presented with in this book. We also met some famous Greek mythological characters characters. This is a tale I found a little slower but I still became absorbed in the world and found myself wanting to find out more about the story, characters, ideas and beliefs.

And now we reach my latest read, ‘The Silence of the Girls’ by Pat Barker. This had been on my bookshelf for ages (just like the others – oops) but a good bookstagram decided it was time to read it, and that was exactly what we did.

This focuses on the story of Achilles and, although that is a similar focus as Madeline Miller’s ‘The Song of Achilles’, it is still an excellent read. This is told from a completely different viewpoint, as this is about the girls who became the ‘prizes’ of the war. They watch Achilles’ story unfold and the world around them change. And I was obsessed, finding it a real page-turner. These women are so strong – however, what really added to my enjoyment was the fact that I could continue to develop my interest in these old tales, but also by the end of this book I had a different opinion of Achilles.

It’s a well-crafted telling of a famous story, which gives a voice to the women and allows them to tell her-story.

On my bookshelves are some more of these retellings, and I will definitely be making sure that they are picked up soon, because it is another world of brilliant stories.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Finally I have dipped my toe into the world of Greek myth retellings. Thanks to two lovely bookstagram buddies, I picked up ‘The Song of Achilles’ for a buddy read.

I really enjoyed this book, so, again I am left pondering why it has been left so long on my to-be-read pile and maybe the others in this genre should be picked up sooner rather than later. (I realise you can all hold me to that when I am still to pick them up – so many books, so little time.)

‘The Song of Achilles’ is a retelling of the story of Achilles from the point of view of his loyal lover Patroclus. From their first meeting until their inevitable separation, we follow them as Achilles can not avoid living to fulfil the prophecy, evern if it leads to a heartbreaking conclusion. With much of this tale set during the war with Troy.

This is possibly one of the most beautiful love stories ever told. However infuriating Achilles can be at times, with his arrogance, the love he and Patroclus share is true. It worried me that some of Patroclus’ actions are due to him being blinded by love. However, it is clear that they are meant to be.

This book is a nice way in to an interest in the Greek tales. I am now interested to find out more. I have an awareness of a lot of the famous figures and tales, but this has certainly given me a desire to find out more – it is certainly complex. Although, I do have some issues with the treatment of women, one of the strongest characters in this book is Briseis. Despite starting as a prize from warm she becomes a loyal friend to Patroclus, even falling in love with him. She is certainly a balance, and a very strong woman.

This is a beautifully written book which engages the reader from the start. And the final two lines of the book are some of the most moving I have ever read.