Title: The Silence of The Girls
Author: Pat Barker
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK
Summary: from Amazon
There was a woman at the heart of the Trojan war whose voice has been silent – till now.
Briseis was a queen until her city was destroyed. Now she is slave to Achilles, the man who butchered her husband and brothers. Trapped in a world defined by men, can she survive to become the author of her own story?
Discover the greatest Greek myth of all – retold by the witness history forgot.
I have been obsessed with Greek Mythology for years and in particular with the Trojan War. I find it’s cast of characters so fantastic and endlessly intriguing. So, I was really eager to read this story about the siege of Troy from the almost unheard of perspective of the women involved – particularly Briseis – a queen who becomes a slave to the well known legend, Achilles. This unique perspective was fascinating and sorely needed because stories of the Trojan War are almost always focussed on the men or gods involved and in many ways they glorify the horrific violence of war until the reader almost becomes anaesthetised to it. That is not the case here. Barker doesn’t hold back at all in depicting the horror of war and it’s aftermath. Her writing is brutal at times and perfectly encapsulates how pointless all the death can feel. She also doesn’t hesitate to show how an individual’s personal failings (mainly arrogance and pride) can have incredibly far reaching consequences. This book is fiction, but it still feels completely relevant because no matter the reason for war, it always results in the same devastation and grief.
I really enjoyed how Briseis’ story framed famous names like Odysseus, Achilles and Agamemnon in a very different light. Her perceptions add so many different layers to the glorious stories about these men. Something else I enjoyed, which I wasn’t expecting at all, is that there were some really witty and humorous moments. They aren’t frequent but they bring moments of levity to a story with a great deal of hardship.
The only negative I have is that sometimes the language felt slightly modern to me. This may have been intentional as a way to make the story even more intensely relatable (which it mostly did) but just occasionally I found it a little distracting. Overall though, I absolutely loved The Silence of the Girls. It is intelligently written, thrilling and a new, creative take on a very old story.
The Silence of the Girls is out now.
I received this e-arc from Netgalley. My review is my own honest opinion.