Circe by Madeline Miller (♦♦♦♦)

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Granddaughter of Oceanus, daughter of Titan Helios and sea nymph Perseid, Circe was different from the start. While her siblings discovered their unique gifts very early on and gained their independence—either by claiming their inheritance, like Perses and Aëstes, or by marriage to a wealthy demigod, like Pasiphäe—, Circe remained among her family in the halls of the gods. Her love for young fisherman Glaucus changed everything. Circe used a potion to transform Glaucus into a worthy suitor. Glaucus, seeing his station changed, fell in love with one Circe’s cousins, a sea nymph named Scylla. Out of jealousy, Circe put a potion on Scylla’s bath and, unintendedly, transformed her into a monster. Circe’s confession forced Helios to go to see Zeus, for witchcraft is something that gods fear can tip the balance of power. Zeus declared an eternal banishment for Circe from the halls of the gods to the island of Aiaia.

Exile was not easy but, as Circe learned, it had its advantages; being away f…

Never Let Me Go (♦♦♦)

Kathy H. (Carey Mulligan, An Education), Tommy D. (Andrew Garfield, The Social Network) and Ruth (Keira Knightley, Atonement) are three classmates in the fourth year at Hailsham College. They know that, as their fellow classmates, they are special. They eat their vegetables, take their vitamins at bedtime, and must stay healthy.

At Hailsham no one challenges the status quo. Miss Lucy, the only guardian who has dared to do so—revealing the reason of their existence and their ultimate mission in life—has been left unemployed. Miss Emily, the college’s principal, runs a tight ship. To prove it, there abound numerous rumors, awful by the way, about what happens to children who wander outside the gates.

Kathy H and Tommy D developed a strong bond from early on in their lives. They loved each other, but Ruth, Kathy’s best friend, became Tommy’s girlfriend, a relationship that lasted well beyond their eighteenth year. Kathy always had the hope that Tommy and Ruth would split, but then she became a caregiver and moved away losing touch with her childhood friends for several years. What happens next you have to watch the movie to find out.

This movie is a work of art. The cinematography is spectacular. The musical score is beautiful yet haunting, accentuated by a cello’s notes. The pace is slow, which can turn people off, but the characters are well developed throughout the story. I liked the acting of the three main characters, but there are very good supporting performances as well, such as Madam Marie-Claude and Miss Emily’s. This film moves slowly to a devastating yet poetic ending: we are all here for a reason and “we all complete”. I did like the scene at the beach where Tommy, Ruth and Kathy went for a trip. I also liked the passive image of the ball outside Hailsham’s gates, bathed by the rain, forever unclaimed; that ball bothered me.

Good movie, but don’t expect fireworks!

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