I only gave three books 5 stars this year. But, happily, I gave seven books 4.5 stars which means I can do a top 10!
I read and reviewed 117 this year. Only three of them got 5 stars. I think I may be getting pickier with my 5 stars as I get older!
There were also seven books which came very close to those elusive 5 stars, so I’ve included them here too.
Click on the book title for my full review. Click on the book cover to go to Goodreads.
Here we go!
Beyond wonderful. Please read this book. 5/5.
The blurb: 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 difference, 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’ 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.
In case you don’t know anything about Achilles’ story, I will keep the following deliberately vague.
This is a beautiful book. I lack the vocabulary to do it justice.
The Song of Achilles is one of those rare wonders: a narrative which weaves a world around you which is so rich and compelling you don’t want to leave it. It doesn’t matter if you know everything or nothing about Achilles because this imagining is original. We are given an intensely personal, insider’s view of events which are usually the distant stuff of legends: Achilles’ boyhood and the Greek siege of Troy.
Almost the entire story is told by Patroclus, Achilles’ companion. We watch him and Achilles as they grow from young boys to men, and their relationship forms the core of a story around which orbit gods and goddesses, dryads and centaurs, kings and warriors.
It took Miller 10 years to write this book and I can see why: the result of her hard work is practically perfect.
Overall: you know you’ve read a 5* book when you finish and would dearly love to go back to the beginning and read it again straight away. One warning though: while this is beautiful, it’s also heart-rending stuff. Probably best to wait until you’re in a happy place to read it.
Claire Huston / Art and Soul