Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Prize Winning Fiction
Prize Winning Fiction

2012 Women's Prize for Fiction Winner

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller


Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks

Length: 368 pages

About: Trojan war and love story

Style: 1st person

Where: Greece and Troy

When: 1200 BC



Publisher’s synopsis:

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.






When the priest strikes the ground, he slips past the thickened bodies of the older boys. He moves easily, his heels flashing pink as licking tongues. He wins.

I stare as my father lifts the garland from my lap and crowns him; the leaves seem almost black against the brightness of his hair. His father, Peleus, comes to claim him, smiling and proud. Peleus’ kingdom is smaller than ours, but his wife is rumoured to be a goddess, and his people love him. My own father watches with envy. His wife is stupid and his son too slow to race in even the youngest group. He turns to me.

"That is what a son should be."





For a whistlestop tour around the life and times of Achilles, you'd be hard pressed to find a better guide than Madeline Miller.

Viv Groskop, 11th September 2011



Not so good:

Miller’s prose often reads like homoerotic slash fiction, but with heroes from mythology instead of Frodo and Sam. “Our mouths opened under each other,” she writes, bafflingly, when Achilles and Patroclus first kiss.

Philip Womack, The Daily Telegraph, 30th May 2012


About the author

Miller was born on July 24, 1978 in Boston and grew up in New York City and Philadelphia. After graduating from Brown University with a bachelor's and master's in Classics, Miller went on to teach Latin, Greek and Shakespeare to high school students. She also studied at the University of Chicago's Committee on Social Thought and at the Yale School of Drama. Miller lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she teaches and writes.




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Age guide: 15+












Novels by same author:

This was her debut novel.












None to date.


















2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner

It's a massive day in arts and journalism because the 100th annual Pulitzer Prize winners were just announced, and there's a big surprise. 2015's best artistic and nonfiction writing across 21 categories were recognized during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City. The first Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Hebert Bayward Swope, a reporter for The New York World, in 1916. (And if you're as big a fan of Newsies as I am, that paper should ring a bell, but try to think of it more positively.)

The major prize for book nerds, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press), a legitimate surprise, if you've been paying attention to the book nerd and industry buzz. The feeling around the prize in the last few months would have you putting all your hard-earned cash down on A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara to take home the award, but that's why you should never gamble. Viet Thanh Nguyen is no less deserving, and moreover, it's his debut novel, which makes it such a wonderful win.

Extract from New York Times to view full article...

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