Britain isn’t presented as the saviour, rather the contributions and sacrifices made by those from its former colonies, at their personal expense, is portrayed in its sobering truth. The lingering effects of the Second World War, poverty, and the roles women play in society are all explored.
One of my favourite things about the first part of the book is how each chapter begins with a sensory experience, usually of taste, which goes on to evoke the memory Leila shares with us.
The portrayal of Circe in the Odyssey is actually infuriating, she’s a beautiful nymph who lures Odysseus into bed (what else did women do in ancient times, even powerful witches) and turns his men into pigs. She uses her womanly charms to distract our innocent hero from his journey home to his wife. She is supposed to represent the dangers of excessive pleasure and comfort, and by giving her a story, by giving her a voice, Miller succeeds in creating a character that is more than a footnote in a mans quest.