Daily Archives: January 22, 2019

The Song of Achilles

On Facebook a few days ago, a former student, posting about a book: “It’s been a while since a book made me cry so hard.”

In the mood for a good novel to read whilst on sabbatical, I asked the Webster library to find the book for me.

And so it was that on Friday I began reading The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

From the Daily Mail: “Extraordinary. . . . Beautifully descriptive and heartachingly lyrical, this is a love story as sensitive and intuitive as any you will find.”

The prose is clean, spare, achingly beautiful, if not a trifle over-written at times.  Some of the sentences left me breathless.  This is tour-de-force writing, and an astounding first novel.

I wrote Yufei tonight, saying “I knew the legend before the I started reading.  I knew the ending.  And yet when the inevitable came, and the voice changed and stilled, I found myself weeping.”  The novel’s last two pages were gut-crunching in their ache and their beauty.

I agree with Christian: it’s been a long time since a book made me cry this hard.  I had an ugly cry Sunday evening as I put the book down, my breath heaving in sorrow . . . my heart wishing the story to be true . . . my soul longing to talk to the man who makes it complete, but who is in China right now.  Patroclus’ gentle, persistent loneliness spoke deeply to me in that moment.