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Join Madeline Miller to talk about THE SONG OF ACHILLES, November's Book of the Month, on Tues 4 December, 9-10pm

(105 Posts)
TillyBookClub Tue 06-Nov-12 22:35:29

It is non-stop prize-winners this autumn... November's choice is the 2012 Orange Prize-scooping THE SONG OF ACHILLES by Madeline Miller, a hugely enjoyable, rip-roaring tale that zips along with great pace. Miller has taken The Iliad and reimagined it through the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, his best friend. All the set pieces are here: Helen choosing a husband, the gathering of kings to go to war, the fight for Troy, the death of Hector. And all the familiar faces too: cruel Agamemnon, cunning Odysseus, vengeful goddess Thetis. But the truly epic nature of this novel comes from the relationship that grows between the two young men, first as young boys, then as adolescents and finally as lovers. Even though the story is as old as the hills, Miller's imaginative power gives it a rollickingly fresh approach. Gloriously good fun.

Our book of the month page has lots more about THE SONG OF ACHILLES and Madeline, including our 50 copy giveaway...

If you're not lucky enough to bag one of those, you can get a Kindle edition or paperback copy here

We are thrilled that Madeline will be joining us to discuss the book and answer any questions about THE SONG OF ACHILLES, the Orange Prize and her writing career on Tuesday 4 December, 9-10pm. See you there...

Clawdy Mon 26-Nov-12 13:07:16

Mine arrived!really pleased. Thanks smile

TillyBookClub Tue 27-Nov-12 10:52:11

The chat with Madeline is just under a week away (Tuesday 4th December, 9-10pm), so time for all your advance questions please...

Thanks to all who have posted q's already (and thanks particularly to Badvocsanta for the beautiful quote)

Odd to think that our war in Afghanistan is over 10 years long, an epic siege of sorts. I wonder if it will ever be written about in the same way.

ShadeMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 27-Nov-12 16:54:13

In the interests of spreading great links - Madeleine Miller joined Jenni Murray on Woman's Hour in May, shortly after winning the 2012 Orange Prize. You can hear the clip here. It's the first item on the show so no need for scrolling.

Belo Wed 28-Nov-12 13:50:21

I've just received mine. I'm realistic about my time and I don't think I'll get it read for next week... Its a book my Dad also wants to read so he may borrow it and join the discussion on my behalf. He has a bit more time than me!

Thanks for the link Shade, I'm going to listen to that before I start the book.

modernbear Wed 28-Nov-12 14:12:57

Received a copy on Monday. Thank you. Really getting into the story. Found Madeline's website quite interesting and useful.

CockBollocks Thu 29-Nov-12 16:28:42

I am loving this book so far - not enough time for me to read it sad I wouldn't be able to put it down if it wasn't for the pesky children!!

TillyBookClub Fri 30-Nov-12 07:04:31

A reminder that any advance questions should be up here by this weekend please, and I will send over to Madeline so she can kick off with her answers first thing on Tuesday evening.

Don't worry if you haven't finished the book, everyone welcome to join in whatever stage you're at - and with this one particularly, we all know what happens so no chance of a spoiler...

DuchessofMalfi Fri 30-Nov-12 09:01:30

Embarrassingly I had forgotten the story of Achilles, Patroclus and the Trojan Wars - school was a long time ago blush.

I suppose my question to Madeline Miller would be - did you imagine that your readers would come to your book with prior knowledge of The Iliad or did you think that your novel made the story more accessible and would lead readers back to The Iliad? Either way, I think it works, and I loved it.

I hadn't thought of wanting to read The Iliad, but now think that your novel has made me want to do so.

lilibet Sat 01-Dec-12 11:41:56

Hi Madeline.

Thanks for coming onto mumsnet and thank you for writing such a wonderful book. It made me sob :-) Sadly I'm not around for the webchat on Tuesday but have a couple of comments and questions for you.

I have very little knowledge of Greek Mythology, all I knew before was about Helen, the horse and that Achilles had a heel and some tendons! I now want to read The Iliad, is there a translation that you would recommend which is more accessible than others?

As I started the book I fully expected to read about Helen's kidnapping, was she happy with Paris, did she go willingly and to have a full descrption of the Trojan Horse episode. When I got further into the novel I didn't mind at all that that was bypassed, as I only cared about Achilles, Patroclus and Briseis's story. Did you decide that Helen's back story and the horse were irrelevant, or did you put them in and then take them out, or (hopeful) are you leaving those particular threads for another novel?

Thank you again


lilibet Sat 01-Dec-12 15:31:32

Tillybookclub I had no idea what happened [uncultured emoticon].

FairyArmadillo Sat 01-Dec-12 21:56:18

Beautifully written. Just read Lilibet's question and realized that as aware as I was that Helen, Tojan horse etc were part of the story in the end I didn't really care. It was all about the lovestory of Achilles and Patroclus.

Are you planning to write any more stories based on mythology, and which other authors inspire you?

TillyBookClub Sun 02-Dec-12 06:22:47

lilibet, you're right - I didn't know the final details either. I guess I meant that its a famous war story where not everyone gets to go home (attempting to make that obscure enough to hide spoiler!)

Thanks for all the questions, I will send to Madeline now - do keep putting them up here as it gives us more time to get through more questions...

See you Tuesday, 9pm

TaggieCrimboBlack Sun 02-Dec-12 16:14:17

Just finished this. V much enjoyed it. And I cried, despite expecting it to end like a greek tragedy.

DuchessofMalfi Sun 02-Dec-12 16:22:50

It made me tearful too. Very few books ever do that for me, the last ones being My Dear I Wanted To Tell You by Louisa Young (more tales of war - WW1 this time) and The Reader by Bernhard Schlink. Powerfully emotional reads.

Katisha Sun 02-Dec-12 18:55:18

I think it interesting the way the gods/demigods and co are depicted as if they are a normal part of society, or kind of. Thetis, Chiron...Was it tempting to explain them away, make them human, away rather than incorporate them as supernatural beings into the story?

ladydepp Sun 02-Dec-12 19:16:55

I LOVED this book, which really surprised me as it didn't seem my kind of thing when I was given it by a friend. I found it incredibly moving, really pacey and gripping. Two amazingly likeable characters with VERY different personalities. I confess I didn't know the story very well, but would read loads more classics if they were written like this!

My only very dull question is : When's your next book coming out and is it based on mythology too???? Here's hoping.....

HullyEastergully Sun 02-Dec-12 21:25:44

Half way through. THREE YEARS of longing looks at Achilles' shining hair and SHARING A BED before they finally get to it on page bleedin' 100.

Not like any poofters I've ever met.

HullyEastergully Sun 02-Dec-12 21:31:44

So far (and I'm prepared for things to change of course), I have absolutely no sense of Patroclus having any personality. He seems to exist solely as a vehicle through which to show Achilles. Frankly I'm struggling to see what on earth Achilles saw in him. Unless he was exceptionally well-hung...

MadelineMiller Sun 02-Dec-12 21:42:55


lilibet, you're right - I didn't know the final details either. I guess I meant that its a famous war story where not everyone gets to go home (attempting to make that obscure enough to hide spoiler!)

Thanks for all the questions, I will send to Madeline now - do keep putting them up here as it gives us more time to get through more questions...

See you Tuesday, 9pm

Testing.... I look forward to speaking with you all on Tuesday!

HullyEastergully Mon 03-Dec-12 08:23:51

Here is my question so far (please feel free to ignore my tasteless ramblings on homosexual practice, above): I am now at the war bit, (much more interesting than all the earlier yearning), and it occurred to me in the insomniac wee hours, that were it not for the writing (eg quote by Badvoc earlier), the whole episode would be nothing more than another tawdry Boys Own Punch-Up. Rape and pillage by one misogynistic violence-worshipping lot against another in the interests of land grabs and wealth. As it ever was.

Do you think that were it not for the beauty of Homer's writing (and the addition of a few gods here and there) elevating it out of the common war-lust realm, it would not have come down to us as a glorious tale of brave deeds and derring-do, but as another sorry tale of the greed, folly and violence of humans?

mmichellepfei Mon 03-Dec-12 18:49:57

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mmichellepfei Mon 03-Dec-12 18:50:21

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HullyEastergully Mon 03-Dec-12 18:52:44

I am going there RIGHT NOW!!

thehamburglar Mon 03-Dec-12 20:52:24

Hi Madeleine

I just wanted to say that I absolutely adored the book. I am too flu addled right now to think of any pertinent and penetrating literary questions but wondered if you could recommend a translation of The Iliad for those of us wanting to go back to the original.

As an aside, the novel made me think of Wolf Hall - the retelling of a tale centuries old as a personal narrative. Did you take any encouragement from Mantel's success (I read that TSoA took you 10 years to write)?


TillyBookClub Tue 04-Dec-12 06:26:45

Looking forward to Madeline's answers at 9pm - and just to add once more that everyone is welcome, whatever stage you're at in the book.

See you this evening.

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