Ep.7: Eleanor Oliphant and The Song of Achilles

We tried something a little different for this episode and chose to partner up and cover two books instead of four.

Aileen and Lauren read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes that the only way to survive is to open your heart. The book is soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon.

And Josie and Alisa read Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles, a tale of gods, kings, immortal fame, and the human heart. A dazzling literary feat that brilliantly reimagines Homer’s enduring masterwork, The Iliad.

The following transcript was translated by an AI program so unfortunately we can’t vouch for its accuracy.

Lauren: [00:00:00] my tea.

Josie: Oh, I’m drinking hot cocoa for Alyssa.

Alisa: I just texted my family to see if someone would make me a mug of hot cocoa.

Aileen: I choked a beer right before this to see if it would help my hangover. I didn’t even want it, but I was like, no, I mean, I tried everything. I was lazy all day. I took a nap. worked out, I ate like a gross sandwich and I was like, I still feel like crap. I guess I have to have a beer. it worked.

Alisa: Yeah.

Josie: hello and welcome to fiction between friends, a podcast, dedicated to books and book lovers like us. I’m Josephine, Angelini

Lauren: I’m Lauren Sanchez.

Alisa: I’m Alyssa Hillfinger,

Aileen: and I’m Aileen Calderon,

Josie: we’re four childhood friends from the suburbs of Massachusetts.

Lauren: Who’ve always to read almost as much as we love to talk to each other.

Alisa: We started this podcast as a way to celebrate how a really good book can come into your life and change.

Aileen: So if you’re looking for fun and engaging conversations about books, stick around.

Josie: This is fiction between friends. And we’re glad you’ve joined us.

welcome back. This is episode seven, season one. [00:01:00] I’m Josephine, Angelini, and joining me are my dear friends. Ayleen Calderon

Lauren Sanchez

and Alyssa hillfinger.

Before we get started, I just want to take a moment to remind our listeners to please leave a rating or better yet, or brief review. If you can, on apple podcasts, all it takes is a click one little click to leave a rating. with every five star rating, an angel gets its wings. What can I say? It’s that important anyway?

How is everyone doing

Alisa: I know, we’re so glad you’re back.

Lauren: it’s good to be back.

Aileen: You know why I missed you the most? Cause I’m looking at my screen and it’s an equal quadrant. And when you weren’t here, there were three. So it was like my big fat face and

Lauren: oh.

Aileen: and Josie. So now everything looks right.

Josie: And we also went off the rails without your

Aileen: Well, we really

Lauren: I’m not sure that I can keep you guys within the rails. I mean,

Josie: No, no, we just don’t watch what we say a little bit more when you’re

Lauren: that’s not true. I hope that’s not true.

Alisa: I don’t think that’s true. I think Lauren just, is that reflection of what should and shouldn’t be

Lauren: [00:02:00] I work, I used to work with this librarian named Jerry and we called her Saint Jerry. I think I might be turning into Saint Jerry if you guys think I’m all like right and wrong,

Aileen: of,

Lauren: I’m not.

Alisa: I wonder what Lauren would have said about our

Lauren: Yeah. I’m really curious about that. Cause I mean, I know what you’re talking about.

Josie: give you the outtakes. Lauren. It’s really funny.

Alisa: but as a gardener, I think Lauren might have some insight into how to best care for.

Lauren: Oh, well, I just stick them in the ground and hope for the best. Give him some water.

Aileen: Keep them nice and wet.

Lauren: actually, I think they like dry. So I don’t know what that means.

Aileen: Good for older women.

Josie: Oh no, actually Lauren, I take it back. We’re not any better with you.

Aileen: There’s no hope.

Josie: Oh Lord.

Alisa: It’s all good.

Josie: So do we want to take a minute and just talk about our week before we get going

Aileen: the last night of Hanukkah, the afterthought holiday, like, oh, that one [00:03:00] isn’t November 1st, this year, or like the end of December, like it’s such a weird holiday.

Josie: the problem. It keeps moving

Aileen: Yes.

Josie: trusts holiday. They can’t figure out what it is.

Aileen: it’s eight days long, which is awesome. When you’re a kid, it’s such a pain in the ass when you’re a parent, because you’re like, well, here’s another present. And also I realize, I, I don’t know how you guys approach holidays with your kids, but I realized the holidays have zero. Significance. It’s just about presence, which I kind of hate, realized growing up, I feel like my parents tried to make Hanukkah mean something, but I was like, just give me my presence. I just, I just

Lauren: Okay.

Aileen: my present. Yeah. You can tell me the story and all of that, but about the presence, which is a really kind of shitty approach once you’re a parent. Cause why it is just like, oh, let’s go light the memoriae where’s my present. And I’m like, oh

Lauren: I bring, we go to, um, services on Christmas Eve, just, you know, we’re not super religious or anything, but for some reason it just makes it feel a little bit better.

Josie: [00:04:00] Um, this week we decided to do something different. We’re going to do, um, two books and we split off into groups of two, but Alyssa and I never really, we both read the same book, but we never talked about we were going to say about it.

So I’m really interested to hear what you have to say, Alyssa, first I really want to hear about AYLIEN and Lauren’s book.

Lauren: Well, we didn’t talk about it.

Josie: We’re winging it.

Lauren: We We read, um, Eleanor Ollifont is perfectly fine. Did I get that right?

Aileen: completely find your clothes.

Lauren: And um, this book was her, it was her first published book I, I, I loved the book when I read it the first time, so I thought it was a good one for Eileen and I to share.

Aileen: so I’ve read this book a few years ago. I think it came out like 2017 or something. So I probably read it around then and I remember liking it. I liked it even more this time. It is such a great book and Eleanor is just such an amazing, quirky, weird character. Um, so it’s the story of Eleanor is [00:05:00] that it takes place in Scotland, which is sort of interesting because aside from some terminology that’s a little different, you would never guess it took place.

You never have any idea of what country took place in. Um, but Eleanor is kind of a misfit. She’s like 29. She works. She’s like an admin and a graphic design firm. And she’s a loner. Like she’s the weirdo in the office who cut her hair since she was 13. She wears these big leg Velcro shoes.

She’s just kind of awkward around everyone. And she just doesn’t interact with people. She just goes in, she does her job. She goes home. She was like, you start to kind of like learn about her past. And she was like a ward of the state. There was something bad that happened in her childhood. They saw which they start to reveal throughout the story, but she just goes home and is by herself.

And she talks about how on the weekends she’ll go like two days without talking to another person. And she sits at home and drinks, two bottles of vodka and then gets up Monday morning and goes to work. And so just has no interaction really with other people other than like going to work. Um, but she’s also [00:06:00] incredibly intelligent.

I actually highlighted a ton of quotes from this book because it’s so funny. Like the way she speaks is hysterical. She’s super smart. Like I probably should have been looking up some of the words she was using. So I was like, I have no idea what that word uses, but she also described. Like social interactions, the way you would imagine like an alien from another planet describing them.

Like she has this outside perspective, like she’s an observer and she’s watching people and how they interact with each other. But the way she describes it, you’re like, oh my God. Yeah. The way we interact is really messed up. Like, this is weird. Like we all accept certain dynamics because she, she just lives in her own bubble, like in her own world. So she doesn’t even, she’s like, yeah, I’m a weirdo, whatever. That’s just the way I am. but so as the story progresses, she ends up, she sees like an older man fall down in the side, like an, a street crossing or something. And this other guy she works with, he’s like Eleanor, we have to go help him.

So they go and they help this guy. So they become sort of part of his So suddenly she’s friendly with this guy from work and [00:07:00] part of this guy’s family. So she’s starting to like interact with other people and it makes her sort of take another look at the way she’s living her life and who she is.

And she kind of starts to learn and grow and relationships. Um, I highlighted one quote, this is one from her. Um, these days, loneliness is a new cancer, a shameful, embarrassing thing, brought upon yourself in some obscure way, a fearful and curable thing.

So horrifying, you dare not mention it. Other people don’t want to hear the word spoken aloud for fear that they might to be afflicted,

Josie: That’s what I was going to ask. what I was going to ask a lien. You said you liked it so much this time around, but could it be, because it’s like a post pandemic view on it that now you’re like, this is something that’s much more important.

Like loneliness has a new meaning to us now.

Aileen: kind of. I think I also, you know, I realize don’t read many funny books. love humor. I love reading things that make me laugh, but, but there aren’t, there aren’t them. You know what I

Lauren: Yeah.

Aileen: there’s a [00:08:00] difference between lighthearted and funny and like a lot of books that are described as

Lauren: Yeah.

Aileen: but they’re not necessarily, they don’t make you laugh out loud.

And this book actually makes me laugh out loud in certain spots because it’s just, there’s such like funny little moments within it

Lauren: I agree with you. But there’s this underlying sadness in it too. So it’s like a, it’s kind of paradoxical, I guess, because it’s funny. And she says these funny, funny things and you’re laughing and, but then, you know how sad it is, the situation she’s in.

Aileen: Yeah, like here here’s this is her Eleanor. Um, my phone doesn’t ring often. It makes me jump when it does. And it’s usually people asking if I’ve been missold payment protection insurance. I whisper, I know where you live to them and hang up the phone very, very gently. That’s what I mean, like she’s, she’s just so quirky and funny and lovable, even though like the way she’s described and like, you see how people are treating her and she’s oblivious to it.

Like you see your coworkers being cruel to her, but she’s oddly confident in who she is. She’s [00:09:00] just accepted being this like weird misfit. It is who she is. She doesn’t have

Lauren: Yeah.

Aileen: of reference.

Lauren: But one thing. Um,

I mean, I think the turning point in the book is when she starts to, like you said, she, and she, and this coworker came upon a man who fell in the street at a heart attack. Right. And they basically get him to the hospital. And then there’s this chain of events where his family is so grateful and they’re embracing her and her, this is her friend, Raymond that she makes through work.

Um, Raymond ultimately is the person that. kind of saves her because there for her at her lowest point. which we should talk about Elaine, because that’s a really important part of the book when, um, has this crush on a pop star and she

Aileen: I forgot that.

Lauren: a, yeah. So she has sort of this question, this pop star and it’s, it’s, it’s not based in reality at all,

Aileen: And it is the thing. She, it happens pretty early on in the story and she’s like, she sees him, she thinks he’s [00:10:00] good looking. And she’s like, that’s it. He’s the one for me. get a make-over and start looking good. Cause when we go out together to restaurants, I want him to be proud to be seen with me.

So she literally just goes and gets a haircut. She buys clothes, but it’s all for this fantasy. Like this man she’s never even spoken to, but in her head she’s already creating the future, her future

Lauren: yeah. And she’s completely wrong about this guy because he’s just a stereotypical kind of

Aileen: douche bag.

Lauren: okay. And, um, but she has this like perfect image in her head that he’s going to be like the perfect husband

Aileen: Um,

Alisa: her coworkers are making fun of her targeting her. Is their targeting of her justified? Is it, does it seem really mean-spirited or she just kind of a misfit and people don’t understand her?

Aileen: So they S they seem mean you see that they’re mean, but you also get why they’re being like, cause they’re sort of an arrogance to her too. Like she does kind of think she’s better. She thinks she’s smarter than everyone. [00:11:00] She thinks she’s better than everyone. And she’s also, she’s learned she’s never been treated well in her entire life.

So she doesn’t know how it feels to have friends and have people who care about her. So this is just sort of become her plane of existence.

Lauren: Yeah.

Aileen: going to keep reading quotes guys because there are so

Josie: Yeah.

Aileen: for this book. So this is her, she, again, she has like really smart insights.

So you’re, you’re on her side. Cause you’re like, you’re kind of saying the things that we should all realize or think. Um, so at the office there was that palpable sense of Friday joy, everyone colluding with the lie that somehow the weekend would be amazing. And that next week work would be different, better.

They never learn. And you’re like, yeah, you kind of nailed it. Absolutely. Right. It’s so depressing. But yes, that’s it.

Lauren: time. I mean, once she becomes friendlier with Raymond and she hits rock bottom and Raymond kind of brings her back to reality and she shares it’s shared in her office that she had a breakdown, you know, like has mental health issues. This is something that’s not talked [00:12:00] about.

And then she it’s revealed to her coworkers who her boss and they’re, they’re very supportive of her at this point. which I think is really important. I think It’s something that should be talked about, um, not hidden.

Josie: they’re given that permission, like, okay, she’s a misfit, but she’s our misfit because we know her secrets

Lauren: Yeah,

Josie: of like, once you crack the show, like once you can see that somebody is vulnerable on the inside, you can be kinder to them because no matter how weird they are, it’s like, they’re a bug like you in a strange way. I don’t know.

Aileen: Well, and, and she also, like you’re reading it and you can picture someone who you’ve known, somebody who dresses kind of weirdly, who’s really awkward, who doesn’t fit in, who gets picked on and you can, you can relate to that. So you, like, I was reading the book and I was like, is she on the spectrum? Like, is something wrong with her?

Like immediately I kind of went there and then I was like, no, she just says she has no model for what a normal social interaction with. She doesn’t know how to have relationships with people. She has literally been living in her, on her own planet and that’s the way she approaches the [00:13:00] world. Like, it’s like, she’s just an observer on planet earth.

Just seeing what the humans are doing.

And they, and again, the author just kind of like leaves this red thread throughout the book. Like there’s hinting at something bad. That’s happened in her past. And like her mother was awful to her and you’re not sure what it is. And she has conversations with her mother and her mother is just this awful voice in her head telling her how terrible she is and what a loser she is.

And which also makes you more sympathetic to her. Cause.

Alisa: Oh, that’s heartbreaking.

Lauren: And it basically the crush on the pop star, she went, thinks it’s going to appease mom, you know, like the perfect man. Yeah.

Aileen: I’ve got another quote. Um, this is her talking about getting ready to meet her future husband. She thinks, um, it, it crossed my mind that I ought to ready myself physically for a potential meeting with a musician by making a few improvements.

I make myself over from the inside out or work from the outside in, I compiled a list in my head of all the appearance related work, which would need to be undertaken hair, [00:14:00] head and body nails, tone, finger eyebrows, cellulite, teeth, scars, all of these things needed to be updated, enhanced, improved.

I decided to start from the outside and work my way in that’s what often happens. in nature, the shedding of skin rebirth animals, birds, and insects can provide such useful insights I’m ever unsure as to the correct course of action, I’ll think what would a ferret do or how would the salamander respond to that situation?

Invariably, I find the right answer. So you see what I mean? Like she’s so bizarre, but also there’s like this really brilliant logic to everything she says. It’s amazing.

Alisa: I love her lists. I love her looking at nature for inspiration. I love this woman.

Lauren: Well, ultimately, I mean, she becomes real close with Raymond. Um, and he, like I said before, he sort of saves her

Alisa: How old is he? Is he close to her age? Do you ever wonder if they’re going to get together romantically?

Lauren: well she basically, throughout the book just thinks he’s dumpy and

Aileen: [00:15:00] Yeah.

Lauren: irritated by him.

Aileen: Yes. She doesn’t like his clothes. She thinks he’s overweight. He smokes. Like she has her own issues with him. Um, I wait, this is an Eleanor, um, observation. They go to a party and people are dancing and this is Eleanor Eleanor observing. Um, the other guests did seem to be enjoying themselves, or at least I assume that to have been the case, they were shuffling on the dance floor, red faced and drunk, their shoes looked uncomfortable and they were shouting the words of the songs into each other’s faces. I mean, think about every wedding you’ve been to. I didn’t realize how much I liked it until I read it again.

Um, so this, I think she’s in a department store, like realizing she needs like better clothes. Like she’s been wearing the same, like potato sack for 15 years or whatever. Um, and I don’t know how to pronounce this word. So you guys are going to have to help. She had tried to steer me towards vertiginous heels.

Josie: very high, very, very high, like.

Aileen: never heard that for Why are these people so incredibly keen on crippling their female customers? I began to [00:16:00] wonder if cobblers and chiropractors had established some fiendish cartel on reflection though. She was correct in stating that the fitted black dress did not really go with either my new boots too informal apparently, Velcro work shoes.

It appeared that nothing did much to my surprise. I had thought that they were in the very definition of versatility. We compromise some improbably named kitten heels, which contrary to what one might think had nothing to do with cats. Like, again, she has these observations, it’s just like, she’s from another planet, but she’s right.

Yeah. So she’s just this, um, I really, I feel like most books try really hard to make their main, main characters incredibly. Like, you always want a main character you can relate to. But also they’re always described as being like beautiful and is not, also has scarring on her face. That’s actually another thing. And like physically, like she’s just not an appealing looking person and it is, it does take you, you do feel like you hear that description and you do feel like you need to get to know her and understand her [00:17:00] because there isn’t anything on the outside immediately that you’re like, oh my gosh. Yes. I love her.

Alisa: It makes me think of so many people in high school that we never appreciated that now I think are the coolest people ever not. I mean, and this is from afar, you know, this is stalking them on social media and, you know,

Aileen: who have you been stocking. Alyssa?

Alisa: is this person up to, um, you know, and just not appreciating how quirky some people were when, when we were

Josie: Yeah.

Alisa: high school, because we were so worried about able to

Aileen: Hm,

Alisa: our

Aileen: Hm,

Alisa: that, and, and I, I mean, I can

Aileen: Hm,

Alisa: speak for

Aileen: Hm,

Alisa: you know, it’s, it’s threatening to try and befriend someone who is, I, I already had dork status of my own. And so for me to drop to a lower dork

Aileen: Hm.

Alisa: a really threatening idea.

Aileen: Alissa, I think you weren’t, you weren’t as big of a dork as you,

Josie: No, you weren’t,

Aileen: you know, you, you were like dorky cool because you like, you wanted to be a paleontologist. None of us even knew what that [00:18:00] word was, but you knew what it was and you want it to be it from the time you were like seven years old or something.

You were just always very self-assured you just had this air of confidence about you plus you were tall and blonde and pretty and athletics. So you had all that going for you too. So like Durkee qualities were like endearing, like

Josie: it’s just sweet. You had very high cache, dark

Lauren: Yeah.

Alisa: but, but dork status, nonetheless. you know, I, I don’t think any of us see ourselves clearly as the way other people do. And Eleanor clearly that concept, you know, with her self-assuredness and yet her coworkers are like, oh my,

Aileen: It is, it is true. I feel like if I went back and asked everyone when we went to high school with like, what, what did you think of me? How would you describe me? I would probably be shocked cause I have no idea. I have no idea how people would describe me.

Lauren: Yeah, I don’t either. I have no idea.

Aileen: I don’t think I want to know either.

Josie: Nope. Nope. Skeleton in [00:19:00] the

Aileen: It’s terrifying. I mean, we also grew up in a small town without a lot of variety, you know, like everybody was supposed to be a certain way and be a certain type of person and.

Josie: labeled right from like first grade. And that’s that’s who you were for the rest for 18 years. Like that’s you were who you were and that’s it,

Aileen: Yeah, you weren’t allowed to change.

Alisa: right. Do

Josie: not at all.

Alisa: in this book, do they talk at all about Eleanor’s um, childhood friends?

Lauren: Um, not so much her childhood, she was in foster care from her from a very young age and she didn’t really form any attachments there. But when she was in college, she had an abusive boyfriend. Hey, we didn’t touch on this.

Yeah. And I’m

Aileen: Oh, I couldn’t, I couldn’t find the quote, but she talks about it. Very matter of factly. She’s like, oh yeah, my boyfriend of two years, he used to punch me in the

Alisa: Yeah.

Aileen: throw me down the stairs. it’s just very, like,

Josie: Wow.

Aileen: is just how it was. And finally somebody at the hospital was like, I think maybe you should kick him out, you know, but she just was.

Lauren: about that. [00:20:00] Why did the author include that in the book? To what end? Do you have a feeling for that?

Like, do you think it was necessary? Because she had a lot of other stuff. I’m

Aileen: Yeah.

Lauren: was like, ultimately, like, did it need to be part of the book? I don’t know.

Josie: it shows how her little, she values her own safety almost in a way, or that she’s accustomed to physical abuse with it.

Lauren: Yeah. That does make sense, actually, if you knew the ending of the book, um, cause

Alisa: You realize,

Lauren: doesn’t know what

Alisa: the ending of this book.

Lauren: have to meet that. She

Josie: on blast page.

Lauren: what real love is. She doesn’t know

Aileen: Yeah.

Lauren: is to be loved, truly

Aileen: Yeah. And she, she thinks that’s the way relationships are. So she, again, proves I think that she has no model for what a healthy relationship is.

Lauren: Yeah.

Alisa: Can you tell me the.

Lauren: no, you

Aileen: we’re not ruining it for everyone.

Lauren: say you would really like it You have to read up.

Aileen: She’s such a great character. It’s a beautifully written book.

Lauren: and you can read it in a weekend.

Aileen: yeah, it’s a pretty quick read.

Lauren: Yeah.

Aileen: okay. Here’s one more. So [00:21:00] this is Eleanor. A man named Keith has come to visit her. Glen is her cat.

Um, by the time Keith was sitting on my sofa with a cup of tea, Glen had disappeared. She only really enjoyed her own company. She tolerated mine, but fundamentally she was a reckless at heart like JD Salinger or the Unabomber like hyperbolic description of a cat that is very relatable.

Lauren: Yeah.

Josie: Oh, that’s awesome. So Alyssa, you and I had the same book.We did the song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. So, and I know you did your homework. Do you want to see all just because I knew Alyssa would have all of her homework done.

Aileen: both have notes, learn where the slackers,

Lauren: Um, I’m literally always the slacker here, so it’s

Aileen: wait, Alyssa, hold that

Alisa: Okay. Well,

Aileen: pages of notes do you

Alisa: four of these are my physics quizzes that I’m giving this week. [00:22:00] Um, of course I’m a dork. I know who I am.

Josie: I was like, Ooh. Oh, this is going to be so impressed with me. I finally did my homework and she did like

Alisa: No, I didn’t. Because what I did is copy and paste off of the internet for things that I looked up. So none of these are my original handwritten, anything.

Josie: Okay. Okay. Well, I feel a little

Alisa: I did mark my book up a bit. I have a quote that I like, and I have a few things, and then I was looking through it. I was like, Ooh, this is a juicy part. I marked that

Josie: It’s all juicy.

Alisa: I know.

Josie: how

Aileen: um,

Josie: book is?

Alisa: I, um,

Josie: It’s the Elliott, it’s that retelling of the Achilles from his early years, all the way up to his ending, which actually happens post ILEAD, that, that

Aileen: um,

Josie: Achilles dying. This is not a spoiler, it’s been around for thousands of years, [00:23:00] his death, and a little bit past Achilles is death, but that actually occurs in, I think the Aeneid is where that occurs because the end of the Elliot is the death of Hector.

So this goes, it goes before and after it uses a whole bunch of myths from Achilles is your early life all the way through past the step. Just a little bit, but it’s told from the right, say it, Alyssa.

Alisa: but it’s told through really the perspective of a secondary character, which is, am I, you’re going to have to correct my pronunciation, but

Josie: Patrick Lee’s

Alisa: Patrick please,

Josie: it’s either Patrick Lisa, Patrick lists metropolis.

Alisa: in my head. It’s metropolis, but what is it?

Josie: Well, I’ve heard a lot of people, Patrick leads this, how it’s usually pronounced, but I’ve heard a lot of people say patrol clueless, but it’s Patrick leads because it’s paternal. So he’s like of the father is what his name means. So Patrick, please put the emphasis on the first

Alisa: Yes.

Lauren: call him pat. Let’s just say.

Josie: on pat.[00:24:00]

Alisa: Um, but this book originally was written in 2011 and then there was a Tik TOK tock. And I don’t, I don’t remember what in particular about this tick-tock trend called forth this particular book, but then it really hit the social awareness. And it’s been on my reading list for years. And finally this summer, when it came back around as being in the forefront of cool things, okay, I’ll read it.

So I didn’t read it until this summer. This was my Cape Cod beach read. It was great. And I had no idea what it was going into it. I really like historical fiction. I really like, and I don’t know if this would be considered historical fiction, but I think because it’s a retelling of the ILEAD, which is it’s in the historical lexicon of,

Josie: When Homer wrote the Iliad, he was writing about it hundreds of years after it supposedly happened. So it might, it could possibly be based on a war between [00:25:00] the very early Greek city states and this place that was on the mainland, like off on the other side of the GNC, it might be based on that, but there’s kind of no proof that it actually happened,

Alisa: But I had no idea it was

Aileen: um,

Josie: it’s all a love story. Oh my God.

Lauren: yeah.

Josie: And the ILEAD is supposed to be based on this love story. Like it’s the only war fought up for love and the face that launched a thousand ships and she nailed it in that like Madeline Miller really for the first time I see it is the love story of love stories. It is.

It’s like they’re in love with each other, from their earliest youth all the way up to like pass their deaths. It’s so beautiful. it was just happens to be Patrick, Patrick and Achilles instead of Helen and Paris.

Alisa: but, so I’m part of my background research into

Aileen: Hm.

Alisa: for the book was figuring out about Miller’s writing of it and her inspiration, and then some critical review. And it took [00:26:00] her 10 years to write it. And five years into the writing, she completely scrapped it because she wanted to make sure that the, as it says in the notes that I took literally took from the internet, um, she was struggling to perfect the voice of her narrator.

And so this really was a labor of love. Um, but it wasn’t necessarily brain child to have this love story between, uh, patrol, patrol, police, pat, and Achilles, because. Plato is said to have made references to the two of them being romantic partners. I mean, she just took it and ran with it.

Josie: Well, they were tent mates

Alisa: Yeah, they were.

Josie: him, he calls it right. They, they were called, um, like dearest friend. It was like this level of friendship that was beyond friendship. It was like, uh, the way, the words that they use. And she reuses some of the old Greek words it’s called like most dear to my heart is one of the, [00:27:00] is the name.

And it’s just like this really quickly. I should’ve written it down. And I didn’t, that’s the one note that isn’t on this stupid page, but, um,

Alisa: Yeah. Maybe.

Josie: but I mean, it is, it’s definitely that they were lovers. And even when you’ve read the ILEAD, it comes, it comes across that, you know, Achilles goes absolutely. Bananas after Patrick Lees dies like Patrick Lee, Dawn’s his armor. And he goes out and he fights this Hector because Hector doesn’t want to fight anymore because he’s been slighted by Agamemnon.

But then Patrick Lees puts on his armor and he goes out and he fights and, um, Achilles is stead and he dies because he’s not Achilles Achilles loses his marbles and kills Hector and drags his body around like in front of the gates of choice for days. I mean, he absolutely goes yet. He loses his mind and he does something that you just didn’t do back then, whose cat is meowing.

Lauren: No, I’m sorry. That’s mine. He’s got problems. [00:28:00] like do I, do I unmute? What do I do? I need an office I’m

Josie: I’m like talking about the death of Patrick LEAs and Achilles losing his mind and killing Hector and array.

Alisa: And one of the things that I, that I loved about the story, the way it played out is that the trickery of fulfilling the prophecy, because Achilles refuse to fight because he knew that it was prophesized, that he would die as a result of trying to fight Hector. And so he refused to fight.

Josie: well, Hector would die first and he would die. He wouldn’t die until Hector was dead. So as long as Hector lived, Achilles would snip. Right. And he kept saying over and over, everyone was like, why don’t Achilles your, What is it? You’re the great grit. You’re like the best of us. You’re the anyway, whatever, he’s the best.

Alisa: is what

Josie: the bestest of the warriors. And, um, he was like the first man or whatever. And was like, oh, he’s done

Aileen: Hm,

Josie: me. He

Aileen: Hm,

Josie: over and over again,

Aileen: Hm,

Josie: wrong to

Aileen: Hm, [00:29:00]

Josie: see why I

Aileen: Hm,

Josie: him when everybody knows that the

Aileen: Hm, Hm, Hm,

Josie: who is the greatest Trojan fights, the greatest great.

It just isn’t going to happen. he keeps putting it off for 10 years. He puts it off and, um, yeah, so. as like trying to

Aileen: Hm.

Josie: trying to eat

Aileen: Hm,

Josie: life as he can out of it because he knows if he

Aileen: Hm,

Josie: he’s going to die, but he keeps saying, why would I ever kill Hector? And then Hector Patrick lace.

Who’s dressed up as Achilles and Achilles, loses his mind and kills him. And then he kind of wants to die. He’s like, I don’t care anymore. Like this is, uh, it’s just, it’s done so well. And the way that Madeline Miller shapes fate into it, like you have all of these prophecies and there’s even a quote I’ve S I’ve.

I have so many bookmark quotes in this that I don’t even know where to go with. Like unlike where do I look? Because I put so many, this is what she says. So a [00:30:00] prophecy, she says, this is.

Aileen: Hm.

Josie: The best of the murmur add-ons will die. Before two more years of past Achilles face was still utterly. Still. We have known it was coming.

He said a Curt shake of her head. No, the prophecy says you will still be alive when it happens. Achilles frowned. What do you think? It means? I don’t know. She said her eyes were very large. The black pools opened as if they would drink him, pull him back into her. I fear a trick. The fates were well known for such riddles.

Unclear until the final piece had fallen. Then bitterly clear

Alisa: And it’s so plays out, you get to the end and you’re like, oh, it was the whole

Josie: It was, uh, it was always going to happen this way.

Aileen: Did you read the ending first Alyssa?

Alisa: Because I needed to know of course I did,

Josie: ends.

Alisa: Everyone knows the ILEAD and I just couldn’t remember it. So I thought I will just reread the ending to make sure that I remember the story, but there’s so many, you can read the [00:31:00] ending all you want, and you still don’t know about all of the prophecies and then the intricate twists and how it plays out.

And the relationship building is still so, just well done that, the end, knowing the ending doesn’t ruin any of that. Um,

Josie: And also one of the things that I love, and I’m not going to tell you how she did it, but. How is she going to tell this whole story of Achilles? How is she going to tell his death? Because I knew that Patrick leads is going to die first and she handled that so well, it felt natural. It wasn’t a device. It made sense because it’s told first person from Patrick Louise’s point of

Alisa: Right.

Josie: and it’s like a tight, first person. We never see into anybody else’s POV. He re he speculates kind of a little bit about the world and what Achilles is thinking, but it really is all just from Patrick Lee’s. And I was like, how is she going to do this to show Achilles is actual death because Patrick Lees is already dead. doesn’t [00:32:00] bury him. Achilles’ lost his mind. He wouldn’t let anyone touch him. He wouldn’t even let breast CEUs come in and clean his body. kept him in his bed with him and like gross. But,

Aileen: Yeah.

Josie: Patrick LEAs is still a, like the way that the Greeks thought you needed a proper burial and you had to be named, like, you had to have a burial place with your name on it in order for your soul to pass over into the underworld. And he’s not given

Alisa: No.

Josie: stuck. He’s stuck watching Achilles, basically run off a cliff and it’s so, heartbreaking,

Alisa: the end, when Achilles dies and has his tomb with his name and he then is gone, metropolis is left, just wandering, waiting to get into the afterlife,

Josie: Because his name isn’t put on the same grave. So. And it’s it is it’s written in, um, maybe it is written in the Aeneid. I’m not sure who said it, but it was known. It was, and Virgil had said [00:33:00] that he wrote in the fall of Troy and he also wrote in Trojan women, which is, um, you everybody’s played the Trojan women, which is where a lot of this is taken from, like what actually happened after Homer stead.

Um, it’s, uh, Patrick Lee’s is cremated and his, his ashes are mixed with Achilles, but his name wasn’t ever put on the tomb. So Patrick Lee’s, isn’t really given a release. Like he’s not,

Alisa: And then another piece of this that I liked and thought was, I mean, it is Greek mythology, but it’s relatable is

Josie: Yeah.

Alisa: Doesn’t like Achilles life partner

Josie: Yep. Patrick, please. She doesn’t like him. She doesn’t think he’s good enough for him.

Alisa: Um, I, you know, it doesn’t help that she’s a goddess and, you know, has, has these powers. Um, but I think, I think part of the story that also is touching is her, her ability to come around and, and [00:34:00] see the value that was brought to her son’s life by this person.

Josie: I don’t think she ever sees that

Alisa: Well,

Josie: eventually writes Patrick Louise’s name on Achilles is tome so that Patrick please can rest. But I, see no empathy or pity in her.

Alisa: why would she do that though?

Josie: because he won’t leave her

Alisa: So she’s just.

Josie: haunting. I believe that I think that she sort of, I don’t feel like she’s like she’s believed Patrick Lee’s has earned her acceptance or understanding or forgiveness for.

Sort of bringing her son awry her whole thing was that he had to get and get more glory. Right. And Patrick Lee’s almost blunted his glory

Alisa: yes.

Josie: a way. Right? Like he

Alisa: Held it. Held him back from the ultimate biggest shiniest glory he could achieve.

Josie: he could have had exactly he was. But, um, I feel like she gives him relief. I’ve really felt like,

Alisa: to, if my son loved him, I [00:35:00] will let them be.

Josie: no, she didn’t want them together in the afterlife. She just, she was like, all right, I’m going to do this for you so that you have rest. But I don’t, she never, no, I don’t think she ever accepted him. And she never felt like he deserved him.

Alisa: I don’t think she ever felt like he does. I don’t think he ever, she ever thought he deserved Achilles.

Aileen: Hm.

Alisa: Interesting.

Josie: together in the afterworld. I think.

Alisa: that part.

Aileen: Hm,

Josie: And the one thing, and honestly, this is such a great note about Patrick, please,

Aileen: Hm,

Josie: the very first day, how his father was always disappointed at him,

Aileen: Hm,

Josie: name is honor of the father and his father hated him. And his father thought he

Aileen: Hm,

Josie: weak boy and was so happy when he could exile him. And

Aileen: Hm.

Josie: like his whole life, every single person in Patrick Louise’s life looked at him as less than, for Achilles. Who’s like was supposed to be the greatest man ever. And it’s this weird, almost like this trade. Well breasts, [00:36:00] he has loved him too in this version of the story, but it’s like from his first moment, how everyone despised him, except this

Alisa: Right.

Josie: you know, this God actually. And I’ve felt like she did such a great job. Reinforcing that even when he’s going to find Achilles, like he

Aileen: Hm.

Josie: a ship and he pays double for it. And everybody’s just like, look, the shopping, paying double, like to get there faster. We’re not going to sail any faster for him. It’s like everyone, he meets looks, looks at him like he’s lessor. And that makes the love like this natural, genuine love that Achilles has for him. All the more

Alisa: right. Although I think my favorite part in the book is in the middle part where Achilles is being trained by, is it Chiron shot? Kyron, C H I R O N

I will say that this book is an excellent example of when people mispronounce words it’s because they’ve only ever learned it from reading. [00:37:00] Like when my son first saw it, we were standing in the supermarket aisle and all of those magazines are facing everyone to see. And, and David looks at this cover and he says, mom, what’s our major, John. And I looked at him, I said, what? And he pointed to the magazine and it was the movie Armageddon and

Josie: wow.

Alisa: it. And he said our major, what is that? Um, and I just, I just loved that.

Lauren: Embarrassingly a lot.

Alisa: And I’m fine with that. I knew coming into this book, that Josie was going to be the expert. I’m okay with that,

Josie: the expert. I mean, I’ve read a lot of Greek, obviously,

Alisa: right?

Josie: if I haven’t read a lot of Greek mythology at this point, I

Alisa: Okay.

Josie: it.

Aileen: like you back when you’re in school.

Alisa: Yeah.

Josie: There was always something about [00:38:00] the, I don’t know, there was always something about it that I found really haunting. I think it’s that idea of fate and that idea of like, not being able to escape it. And you know, you, you meet your fate on the road, you take to escape it like that’s right.

That’s from Oedipus. And there’s, there was always something about how we make our lives. And even if we know how horror that awaits us, no, world will fit itself together around us will fit our world together around it to make it occur. And that’s just something that I’ve always, don’t know. almost like we’re all living in time.

Fate makes it so that you’re living in time backwards. It’s like, you know, you know, like a time travel movie.

Alisa: know,

Josie: I know, and it’s just always, it’s something that I’ve, I don’t know. I’ve just been thinking about for a really, really long time. And I’ve, I’ve also always loved the myths aspect of it. You know, people turning into trees

Alisa: right.

Josie: it’s just

Alisa: I always loved Greek mythology. I, and was it 70? I think [00:39:00] seventh grade, the social studies curriculum is all about Greek and Roman mythology. And I remember writing. Godly number of pages in a report documenting all of the different gods and goddesses and Demi gods. And, and I love, I love the idea of being able to look at our natural world and these stories and explanations for why things are, what they are.

And I think in particular, I like that now because I’ve always been interested in the earth and earth processes. And, and to be able to look at it now as an earth scientist, but then to appreciate how in Lawrence cats are in agreement with me, for the beauty of the natural world and the place of all the creatures and, and just the stories of how do you explain thunder and how do you explain the changing landscapes and, [00:40:00] and then to have the gods and goddesses be able to explain some of that. And then I just always have found it fascinating.

Josie: I also loved like the descriptions of the underworld and how it was this mappable place. Like there are these rivers and you have to cross a river and like, there’s this, uh, you know, all these different lands that are sort of broken up in this underworld. It’s a shadowy realm and it’s not really hell and it’s not really heaven. And it’s, I don’t know. I just always, I was always fascinated by at night.

Alisa: and I like that it’s defined.

Josie: Yeah. I guess I like that too. Yeah. I think you could go there. It was a place that people went to and came back from too. I was another very comforting thought, I guess when I was younger,

Alisa: Um,

Josie: but

Alisa: the part of the book that I really liked was this middle part where he was Achilles, has to go be trained in order to become the warrior that he wants to be. And he ends up in the woods with, how am I going to pronounce it?

Josie: Kyron.[00:41:00]

Alisa: So Kyron is

Aileen: um,

Alisa: to train him. And I

Aileen: um,

Alisa: of all the other creatures though, Kira and accepts, um, I’m going to call him metropolis.

Josie: Patrick Lee’s. Yeah, he’s the only one that accepts him and he accepts their relationship to

Alisa: And he, he doesn’t listen to

Aileen: Hm,

Alisa: who sends a warning that says, do

Aileen: Hm,

Alisa: passage for anyone other than Achilles and

Josie: Don’t let him take his friend, basically.

Alisa: And so, all right. So I really love that part in all the stories of they spend almost what two years,

Aileen: Hm.

Alisa: the time they’re 13 to 15 and they learn how to hunt.

They learn how to fight. They learn about medicine and surgeons and how to create herbal remedies and to read seasons and to adapt. Um, okay, so I’m going to cut to critical [00:42:00] review and then I’m going to go back to this section. So I was reading critical review of the book and there were all of these wonderful reviews, Washington post the guardian. the book first came out, it was, you know, pros is clean and spares the driving poetry of Homer. But then in the New York times, there was dude reviewed the book

Aileen: Um,

Alisa: compares the book unfavorably to young adult literature. Describe it. I know, oh, I have a whole lot on this describing the song of Achilles as a book that has the head of a young adult novel, the body of the ILEAD and the hindquarters of Barbara Cartland.

He also compared the novels pros to spark notes and soft pornography.

Josie: first of all, what’s wrong with it being a love story, but why is that? Why a it’s, it’s a love story and it’s supposed to be, it’s about a war that started for love. Why don’t we [00:43:00] talk about the love for a little while?

Alisa: a typically, because then I went on a deep dive into what adult fiction is compared to new adult fiction, because those are slightly different genres, depending on the age group that is portrayed in the book.

Josie: Yeah.

Alisa: so, because this takes place with characters who are in their early to young teen years, I think

Aileen: and.

Alisa: that’s why he’s characterizing it as why a and at first I had a really hard time wrapping my head around the fact that these were 13, 14, 15 year old boys.

But when you think about the world, they lived in. They might have been by age 13, 14, 15, but at 15 they were getting married and being adults essentially. Right. So they can call it why all they want, it’s not, I mean, these are very adult relationships, very adult themes, very adult actions. and I’ll read you some soft core porn. [00:44:00] There’s no averaging. Um, and I, I really disagree with that core comment. I don’t think any of it

Lauren: No,

Alisa: is that

Josie: It’s not it’s it’s it’s there. It’s sexy, but it’s not tacky. It’s beautiful. And it talks about the beauty of love

Alisa: When Achilles is sent away to be trained by

Josie: Kyron,

Alisa: how do you get it eventually?

Lauren: Yeah.

Alisa: Um, he, doesn’t go fully. He stops in the woods and it’s this long Trek that he has to take to get there and he stops and waiting. And what we come to realize is that he’s hoping that

Josie: Patrick,


Alisa: please we’ll follow him. And so we see Patrick Lee’s on his journey to try to find

Aileen: um,

Alisa: and they’re in the woods. And Patrick. Um, thought he [00:45:00] heard something is waiting. know where he is. Doesn’t know who might be lurking. And there was a movement from the woods. At my side, jerked my head towards it too late.

Something someone struck me from behind throwing me forward. I landed heavily face down on the ground with the person already. On top of me, I closed my eyes and waited for a knife. There was nothing, nothing but silence in the knees that

Aileen: Um,

Alisa: back a moment passed and it came to me that the knees were not so very heavy in our place so that their presence did not hurt.

I did not move the knees lifted. Enhance, reached down to turn me gently over Achilles was looking down at me. I hope that you would come. He said my stomach rolled a wash with nerves and relief at once. I drank him in bright hair, the soft curve of his lips upward. joy was so sharp. I did not dare to breathe.

I did not know what I might have said. then it goes on.[00:46:00]

Josie: It’s so good. There’s a million of these like this, I don’t know. This person must have a problem with love stories, but there’s so much about it. Yeah. Or as homophobic, there is so much about there are these beautiful moments. R, and this is why I think it transcends just another retelling of the alien.

She, her prose is really, I’m not surprised. It took her 10 years because every single paragraph is crafted. So here’s just a he’s Patrick Louise’s is afraid. And just listen to how she describes it. was twisting inside of me, a wobbling cup of panic that threatened each moment to spill Jesus. that takes, that takes time. You got to sit down and think about that. Oh, and listen to this little nugget of smartness. Um, what are you thinking about? It was Achilles. Come to find me. His voice was loud in the quiet Grove,

Aileen: No.

Josie: not start off. I’d half expected him to come. wanted him to nothing.

I said it was untrue, it always is. [00:47:00] that’s my, I have so many things bookmarked on this book. Just these beautiful little moments that she wrote. Beautiful little moments between two people. And it’s not they’re teenagers. It’s not, they’re two boys. It’s just two people who are relating to each other and thinking and growing as people and who are trapped in a horrible situation, you know, they’re, they love each other.

And one of them is chasing this fame because he knows that that’s what he’s destined to do. It’s like, You know, he’s gone, he’s got to be the greatest war in the world because that’s what he’s made for. And it’s like over and Oregon, Patrick Lees is just sort of admiring him. Like that is what he’s made for.

He talks about the bones in his wrist, like a flute. And it’s like his, he’s got these beautiful artist’s bones and he plays the liar and he sings so beautifully, but he’s like this gorgeous instrument of death. Like that’s what he’s ultimately that [00:48:00] beautiful for. Like he has this perfect body that’s made to kill and, and not the heart for it. And it’s just beautiful. I don’t know.

Alisa: and Patrick has no, he should have no redeeming qualities. He should have no value. And yet.

Josie: He does nothing. He is like, he follows Achilles wherever he goes. That’s all he does, but he doesn’t seem like a

Alisa: No. And he

Josie: a weird.

Alisa: has, worth and value and Achilles sees so much in him that nobody else sees.

Josie: his father asks Achilles his father, who’s a king, a Pelion or something like that. Um, Peleus he asked him, he’s like, why all of these boys would kill to be basically like your best friend or your spear mate or whatever. And did you pick Achilles? Why did you pick Patrick please? And Achilles replies?

Because he’s surprising and that’s it. He doesn’t go on. And Patrick Lees is like, go on, like telling me, you know, that [00:49:00] he wishes that

Achilles, Achilles would explain it to him, but it’s almost like he doesn’t need to be anyone but himself. And that’s enough for Achilles. That’s so

Alisa: is such a nice story.

Josie: touching

Alisa: then they died. It’s sad.

Josie: and they all, they die and then they drag each other’s corpses around and it’s just

Alisa: gory. there are some parts

Josie: Elliot is glory.

Alisa: that are shocking with some sacrifices that are made and just the Bloodlust in some of these rulers in the, you know, the pissing contest of who’s really in charge and it it’s disturbing. Yeah. The spoils of

Josie: And that’s exactly, and that’s exactly the way that it’s, it, it plays out like all their time in the, in the encampment, outside of Troy, if it is the Elliot, she doesn’t miss a beat, like all of the major fights between Agamemnon and Achilles and how a DCS has always sort of maneuvering and trying to get everyone around how [00:50:00] Ajax, the greater things that he should be the best of the Greeks.

And like if Achilles only wasn’t there and Achilles is this kid he’s 16 when he shows up and he can kill

Aileen: Um,

Josie: of people at once. He’s just a death machine everyone’s like that little

Alisa: Yeah.

Josie: he won’t kneel the Agamemnon because Agamemnon can’t win the war without him. And everybody knows it. of these other guys are Kings too.

And it’s just like, It really, you see how everyone hates him. They hate Achilles for what he can do. And it’s just like so honest, it’s like, he’s the Michael Jordan of death. And everybody watches him just in awe. And at the same

Aileen: Um,

Josie: God, I hate you.

Alisa: Yeah.

Josie: And she grasps that and she puts it into the story and she shows how it’s this hatred.

And these, Achilles is there for his glory. And Agamemnon is the leader. And he won’t give Achilles the ultimate glory that he wants or that he [00:51:00] feels he deserves. And it’s because of that Achilles, that’s where his downfall is. It’s hubris and it’s so Greek and it’s, she does it perfectly. does it exactly like a Greek tragedy.

She doesn’t miss a beat. She doesn’t betray the story in any way so that she can. But she tells her story from a point of view that is just of in the Greek mythology. It’s

Alisa: Did you read her follow-up book? Was it Searcy?

Josie: Oh, CRC. I haven’t read it yet, but I have it. I have it. on the phone. I gotta download it.

Lauren: Yeah, I

Josie: I got it. all queued up.

Lauren: I didn’t finish it And there’s no reason for that. I really need to, but I was wondering, what will she write next?

Josie: I don’t know if it keeps taking her 10 years. She better.

Alisa: Hopefully she has another job and it’s not just writing.

Josie: Well, no, she had, um, she was a teacher. She, I know she went to brown and then she got her, she got her masters [00:52:00] and she was, uh, She’s from Massachusetts. I think she’s from Brookline. Yeah. And Madeline Miller. Uh, it was a teacher in a high school in Massachusetts. I’m not sure which town for the 10 years, while she was writing a song of Achilles.

And I think CRC took her less years, but still took her awhile, but she crafts her pros. So delicately don’t rush the woman. We’ll give her a minute. Like, you know, especially, it’s so hard to tell a story where everybody knows every single beat of it and to not betray any of those beats, like she didn’t change the plot of the Elliot.

She didn’t change what we know of post ILEAD after Hector’s death from Virgil’s Aeneid, from what we know about the fall of Troy in Trojan women and your remedies, his play, she didn’t alter any of those. What we know from those that Canon of the Trojan war and to tell a story that. Everybody in the world has known for [00:53:00] thousands of years and to do it in such a fresh and lovely way is an accomplishment.

Let the woman take a few years to dry her next book.

Alisa: but it’s, it’s the brilliance of the side characters. And, we see

Josie: Yeah,

Alisa: I mean, is the story of wicked. This is how wicked became,

Josie: yeah,

Alisa: I think at some point in the next couple episodes, I’ll do the red tent, the story of, um, Rachel, I think it’s Rachel. I have to, I have to, I’m going to have to reread it, but you know, you find these secondary characters who are only mentioned once in a story, and then you develop a whole,

Lauren: Yeah.

Alisa: in and what really are they thinking as they experience the story that we think we know? And it just adds so many layers that are interesting.

Aileen: it takes so much confidence as a writer. You know, if you’re going to take one of these classic stories and retell

Alisa: Hm.

Lauren: Yeah,

Aileen: it takes balls to tend to do that. Like you really have to believe in your vision.

Josie: And I’ve heard, I’ve heard a lot of [00:54:00] retellings, but they, they changed the plot. They do so much stuff to it. This did not like even about

Lauren: authentic.

Josie: right. Even about studying with Kyron on Mount Palladian, like Achilles studied with just the same way that Jason studied with Kyron. And it’s like, she used, and she did not stray too far from, know, the myths that have already been established for thousands of years. And that a lot of retellings they’ll just start with one nugget of an idea and they go off like, like wicked. just that one little nugget. And then they, he goes off and he builds his own world on it. She didn’t do that. She stayed squarely and firmly in that world, but she told her. Such this with immediacy and with poetry, with true poetry.

That’s another thing. the song of Achilles her cadence in her prose very lyrical and it has almost this dirge light quality to it because it is leading up to these [00:55:00] deaths. Like everybody dies and it’s wonderful in tone, it fits perfectly with what she’s doing. And it does feel like one of these ancient dramas, but told in such a modern voice. Just great. Really good. Really?

Alisa: fun looking back through the book.

Josie: I’m just enjoying sitting here. I’m like looking off, I’m like just enjoying sitting here thinking about what a wonderful book she wrote. so good. it. Loved It

Alisa: is a very surprising, but satisfying love story,

Josie: satisfying. And how can you be so invested when you know everybody’s going to die? And it just can’t,

Alisa: you know, the ending and yet going back and experiencing it is still fulfilling.

Josie: So Ayleen Lauren, can you give us your final thoughts on Eleanor? Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman.

Aileen: Um, I love this book. I loved it even more the second time, which I thought I was going to [00:56:00] because I read it so recently I thought I was going to sort of struggle to have to read it again. Like it was going to feel like a chore, but oh my God, Eleanor is just this amazing character. She’s so complex.

And she’s just so damn funny. Like it’s so nice to read a book that makes you laugh out loud, but then can also make you feel a little sad. Like it’s just this emotional rollercoaster, but she’s just such a quirky, weird character. You go into it and you see her the way the rest of the world sees her. And then you get to know her and you fall in love with her. And it’s just, it’s a beautiful book.

Lauren: Yeah. like the, like I, like I said before, I like the contrast between the sadness and the humor. Um, but I also just want to like point out, remember when you had like that weird crush in high school and you really thought it was going to work, you

Aileen: Oh yeah.

Lauren: dress right into your hair. Right. And it was like, knew that it was, yeah. I could relate to that.

Josie: So awesome.

Lauren: And then it not working out. Totally relate.

Josie: Oh, that’s awesome. [00:57:00] So, Alyssa, what are your final thoughts on the song of Achilles by Madeline

Alisa: I think my final thoughts are what I had said previously. It’s such a surprising and satisfying love story from a retelling of a different character that you just didn’t know. And in these old stories that you’ve heard a hundred times, um, it was so beautifully written and so easy to fall into, even though you knew in the end, it was all going to just be. But it was great. It was very well done.

Josie: And I’m going to, my final thought

Aileen: Um,

Josie: a quote because dang, that book was hot and like unexpectedly hot. So, this is when, um, the Greeks have broken through. I mean, the Trojans have broken through and there they’ve, it’s almost the end of the war,

Aileen: Hm.

Josie: Trojans almost beat the Greeks and they’re, breaking down the beach and they’re going to burn the ships so that the Greeks can’t even get back to

Aileen: Hm, [00:58:00]

Josie: And this is what, and now Hector’s whole bra brown body twists alone before the blankness of sea and sky

Aileen: Hm,

Josie: between air and earth. His face is

Aileen: Hm,

Josie: peace. His eyes lifted a man in prayer, a man seeking God.

Aileen: Hm,

Josie: there a moment, the muscles in his arm, knotted and flexed his armor, lifting on his

Aileen: Hm,

Josie: showing hipbones

Aileen: Hm.

Josie: cornices of a temple. Then his other hand swings a bright torch toward the ships.

Aileen: Hm.

Josie: Damn. I mean, she’s

Alisa: Yeah,

Josie: a dude throwing a torch into a ship and I’m like, oh, that is a sexy. As torch. don’t know what the heck’s going on anymore. That’s my final thought on song.

Alisa: these, these men in armor.

Josie: I’m going to go take a cold shower. Oh, that was awesome. . All [00:59:00] right, that was great. You guys thank you so

Alisa: It was so great. Lauren. I’m so glad you’re back.

Josie: Lauren. Yay.

Lauren: Yeah.

Alisa: next week

Josie: Next

Alisa: it again.

Josie: you then.


Josie: You’ve been listening to fiction between friends to find the show notes for this episode, or to subscribe and get new episodes delivered automatically. Visit fiction between friends.com. Also, if you happen to have a moment and you’ve liked what you’ve heard, please help support our podcast by leaving a review on apple podcasts.

We would be immensely grateful. Thank you for listening.

8 comments on “Ep.7: Eleanor Oliphant and The Song of Achilles

  1. Shauna says:

    Happy Monday ladies! I have not read either of these books. I may have to read Eleanor since it is on the shorter side to complete my Goodreads challenge LOL! Circe is one I have been interested in for awhile. I thought it came out before Achilles which after listening makes sense since Achilles made a resurgence after Circe came out. I’ve always enjoyed Greek myths and loved The Illiad and The Odyssey. My kids go to a classical education charter school so they learn a lot of this! My 9th grader is reading a brick of a book of the Iliad this semester and next semester will be reading The Aeneid which I haven’t read so I may read that when he is done. I do love arguing over how to say the names like Patroclus with him, but he is 14 so he knows everything LOL! Have a great week!

    1. Josie says:

      Hey Shauna!
      Ha, I probably pronounced Patroclus wrong too. Eh, it’s hard when you have a Boston accent to cover! I actually got around to reading Circe this past week as well. I highly recommend it, although it didn’t fully break my heart like Song of Achilles did. So cool your kids are studying the classics. I always gravitated toward them (obvi!)

      Have a great week!

      1. Shauna says:

        I did ask him how to say Patroclus and he agrees with you 😉

    2. Aileen says:

      Definitely read Eleanor! It’s a quick, addictive read and she’s such an amazing character. It’ll balance out all that intense Greek mythology.

  2. Emma says:

    I loved this episode! So glad to have Lauren back, and I love the new format too. I like having multiple opinions on a book, especially when people notice different details.

    When I read ‘Song of Achilles’ I bawled like a baby, because for one as a queer woman I love seeing queer relationships portrayed literally anywhere and also, obviously, everyone dies. I did it during my finals too so that was stupid of me as it took me several days to cope …
    I didn’t like Circe as much but it was also amazing, I definitely recommend it. My entire family read it over a week maybe when we were on vacation. I feel like retellings are really having a comeback (haha), my mother told me about an Ariadne book she saw at her bookstore. We refuse to read it though out of spite because it is such an obvious rip-off of the concept of Circe down to the cover and everything…

    I also always get attached to the minor characters – which can be a very dangerous game – because I have a lot of imagination but am too lazy to make my own characters, so I just slap all my ideas onto them as long as they are still just faces in the background. I mean goddamn I make up stories for characters that don’t even *have* a name, so…
    On that note, I’m so sorry Josie but all of your characters now have even sadder backstories and are all at least a little bit queer. I had to, couldn’t help myself (but also, please, Hector was pretty much already in love with Orion by the third book, the guy was waxing lyrical about Orion this and Orion that and he’s so smart and handsome and strong. Bromance much??). I’m also super curious how the new books will fit with my fantasy, I might have to throw it all out and start over with it… either way, so exciting!

    So in conclusion, you all know I love the podcast and I’m looking forward to listening to it every week – only thing that makes mondays bearable – so I’ll probably be here again next week. I can’t wait!!

    1. Shauna says:

      They are the best part of Mondays!

    2. Josie says:

      I love that you’ve come up with queer versions of my characters! That’s fantastic, and I totally support it. I was once asked what I felt about fan fiction, and I think it’s a wonderful way for people to express their creativity. I feel honored to have written something that is a springboard for someone else’s idea. I love the Hector/Orion bromance.

      Glad our podcast is something to help you through Mondays. There needs to be another name for Monday that describes how awful it is…like the opposite of Funday. Scumday? Hum-drumday? Help me out here, Emma…

    3. Alisa says:

      Hi Emma – I agree it was so fun to have two perspectives on a book! Although I also love learning about the books my friends pick so I have more things to add to my reading list… oh the trade offs. 🙂

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