What I read during my holiday Part 7- The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
I have been lusting after this book ever since I first saw it as part of the Orange longlist, then shortlist, then winner this year. I cannot believe now that I would have actually read this book otherwise this year, no one has mentioned it on Twitter, and no one has recommended it to me off the Internet.
And I want to know why.
Why are we not talking about how incredibly good The Song of Achilles is? Why? Seriously, I’ve read most of the Orange prize winners and admired them as good books, but I read this book in six hours. Six glorious, sun struck hours. It is marvellous. I cannot praise this book enough.
Firstly, it is beautiful. Ancient Greece is real, a hot sandy place full of danger and sweat and blood and men and grrr and centaurs. The Gods and Men live side by almost side and in this book, it makes perfect sense. What was almost in Alcestis by Katherine Beutner is fully complete in Achilles.
Secondly, it is erotic. The story of the burgening relationship between former outcast Patroclus and golden boy Achilles is like reading a boarding school romance without the sly digs in the ribs. Her descriptions of lust are so on key, understated but just so right. She sums up desire in a word. Although she safely gets the heros over the age of consent before any hanky panky the longing that the two display is so beautiully evident that I, a straight woman, was more turned on by two boys than any thing else I’ve read this year apart from possibly Frenchman’s Creek. Honest to God this book is seventy times more erotic than Fifty Shades of Grey and it is a travesty that this book, which isn’t hard to read, which is first person, accessible, and is printed in a gorgeous decent sized font isn’t being read by more people. This book makes you want to lie in the sun and watch beautiful men swim. This book makes you feel the honey drip from the ends of your fingers. This book makes you feel sexy.
And it’s about war! The Illiad was never the easiest book in the world to read, but this retelling makes the battle alive. The characters are funny and vivid and living and damn but it makes you want to see more of them. Odysseus especially, I really do hope that she does the Odyssey next cos that would be mint.
This book made me put off everything for a night, meaning I’m about six hours behind in chore-time this week and I don’t care! It has been a long long long time since I’ve found a book as hard to put down as this one and if you don’t read it, you’re a fool and I pity you. This would be perfect beach reading, in fact I’m quite envious of people who get to read this as a beach read. This book made me flick the V’s at it in the end and be gutted it was over. I cannot stop thinking about it and I want the year to fly by so I’ve got a decent excuse to read it again.