Our book club novel for Autumn 2012 is The Song of Achilles, a stirring, passionate novel which won of this year's Orange Prize for Fiction. Madeline Miller's debut novel harnesses the power of the Iliad, re-telling the powerful story of Achilles from the point of view of his inseparable companion, Patroclus.
Greece in the age of heroes: Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles's mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.
"A captivating retelling of the Iliad and events leading up to it through the point of view of Patroclus: it's a hard book to put down, and any classicist will be enthralled by her characterisation of the goddess Thetis, which carries the true savagery and chill of antiquity" – Donna Tartt, The Times
"Mary Renault lives again! A ravishingly vivid and convincing version of one of the most legendary of love stories" – Emma Donoghue, author of number one bestseller, Room
“Original, clever, and in a class of its own ... an incredibly compelling and seductive read” – Independent on Sunday
“A remarkably fresh take on one of the most familiar narratives in western literature” – The Times
“Extraordinary ... Beautifully descriptive and heart-achingly lyrical, this is a love story as sensitive and intuitive as any you will find” – Daily Mail
“Sexy, dangerous, mystical” – Bettany Hughes
“If I were to give a prize for the best work of fiction I've read this year, this would be the runaway winner. As a first novel, it heralds the arrival of a major new talent” – A.N. Wilson, Reader's Digest