Monday 15 October 2012

The Song of Achilles

Madeline Miller, 2011
(October 2012)

Now, this is a good one. Another wartime love story where everyone dies, but somehow not depressing in the slightest.

It’s a little bit teen melodrama-ey in places. I’m sure the fact that some of the exchanges between Patroclus and Achilles reminded me of Dawson and Joey says something important about the timelessness of stories and the human condition, but I’m not too sure what that is, nor do I care overly much.

The passage of time also gets concertinaed a little bit awkwardly: when the end does come, as it inevitably must, it all seems to flash by rather too quickly. After all the build up it’s almost a let down, especially as the killing blow is an arrow not in the heel but the heart. Metaphors ahoy, but what’s Achilles without his Heel?

Still though, beautifully written and compellingly so too. Despite the main plot points of the story being mapped out for millennia, I still wanted to keep reading to find out where it was going next. The Song of Achilles won the Orange Prize this year, and for once it’s a prize winner that I don’t feel slightly let down by. All that and centaurs too. Lovely.

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