Madeline Miller’s follow-up to Song of Achilles revisits another popular myth. Pygmalion, a sculptor in Cyprus, falls in love with the beautiful marble statue he has carved, and asks Venus for a bride who would be as chaste and as lovely as his sculpture. She grants his wish, the statue comes to life and they marry, and presumably, live happily ever after. In Galatea (August 13, Ecco), Miller approaches the Pygmalion myth from the perspective of his sculpture and masterpiece, Galatea.
The story begins in media res; Galatea in her hospital bed contemplates how she should, today, handle the doctor who has been treating her – while we wonder what has brought her there. Though only about 15 pages long, Galatea covers a lot of ground, and as the story progresses we come to have some idea of how she came to be hospitalized, what her relationship is like with her husband (and creator), her thoughts about the future, and just how far she will go to secure it.
Miller deeply outlines a picture that is as vivid and troubling as it is startling, and she manages it in precious little space. Miller tells a much darker tale than that of a couple granted the miracle of life. It makes you wonder what type of man would become so enamored of a silent, though perfect, creation. What is he looking to achieve by requesting her as a companion? Mysterious and thought-provoking, Galatea is a worthy heroine and strategist under Miller’s illuminating and imaginative pen. Highly recommended.