The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Pat Barker on the blog today with a retelling of The Iliad, from the perspective of a woman in the trenches, a hostage taken by Achilles. Please read on for my review of

The Silence of the Girls

Told in predominantly first person POV, we have the final weeks of detail on the battle for dominance of Troy from Briseis’ view. Former queen, taken by Achilles as a prize of war when he defeated her husband and brothers. Now a concubine, her awareness of the fact that she is not the hero of her own story, with no choice but to watch events unfold around her is clear {perhaps too clear – a fault of time elapsed from event to retell?} that gives an intriguing, and particularly easy to see the influence and moments from Homer’s original. With a few moments where Achilles’ perspective is presented, with an interesting presentation of his brutality while examining the perception of his heroism, a juxtaposition that many authors fail to handle as deftly.

But the story is far more than just a retelling: Briseis is both politically adept and a keen observer of the world around her: no shrinking violet, she is watching, waiting and making choices that will best serve her for the future, should there be one. She manages to present her tale with musings that harken back to the lyricism and poetic feel /nature of Homer’s original, in fact I felt that much of the original’s rhythmic prose that added that sense of a classic, while present, also allowed the clear voice of Briseis as her story presents one of a person without a real dog in the fight, free to recount moments experienced from her unique perspective.

Not simply a tale of ‘yet another woman in love with her captor’, the nuance and clear presentation of traits and characteristics often in direct contrast help to define and illustrate both Achilles and Patroclus, contrasting their moments of petulance, empathy and even jealousies adds another layer to the tale, allowing those interested in returning to the original a newer {and perhaps more connected} perspective and way to appreciate the tale, history and humanity within.

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Title: The Silence of the Girls
Author: Pat Barker
Genre: Historic Elements, Historical Fiction, Political Elements, Pre- A.D., Setting: Greece
Published by: Doubleday Books
ISBN: 9780385544221
Published on: 4 September, 2018
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Pages: 304
Audio Length: 9 Hours: 35 minutes
Rated: four-stars
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See this Title on Goodreads

From the Booker Prize-winning author of the Regeneration trilogy comes a monumental new masterpiece, set in the midst of literature's most famous war. Pat Barker turns her attention to the timeless legend of The Iliad, as experienced by the captured women living in the Greek camp in the final weeks of the Trojan War.

The ancient city of Troy has withstood a decade under siege of the powerful Greek army, who continue to wage bloody war over a stolen woman--Helen. In the Greek camp, another woman watches and waits for the war's outcome: Briseis. She was queen of one of Troy's neighboring kingdoms, until Achilles, Greece's greatest warrior, sacked her city and murdered her husband and brothers. Briseis becomes Achilles's concubine, a prize of battle, and must adjust quickly in order to survive a radically different life, as one of the many conquered women who serve the Greek army.
When Agamemnon, the brutal political leader of the Greek forces, demands Briseis for himself, she finds herself caught between the two most powerful of the Greeks. Achilles refuses to fight in protest, and the Greeks begin to lose ground to their Trojan opponents. Keenly observant and cooly unflinching about the daily horrors of war, Briseis finds herself in an unprecedented position to observe the two men driving the Greek forces in what will become their final confrontation, deciding the fate, not only of Briseis's people, but also of the ancient world at large.
Briseis is just one among thousands of women living behind the scenes in this war--the slaves and prostitutes, the nurses, the women who lay out the dead--all of them erased by history. With breathtaking historical detail and luminous prose, Pat Barker brings the teeming world of the Greek camp to vivid life. She offers nuanced, complex portraits of characters and stories familiar from mythology, which, seen from Briseis's perspective, are rife with newfound revelations. Barker's latest builds on her decades-long study of war and its impact on individual lives--and it is nothing short of magnificent.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.


About Pat Barker

Pat Barker is most recently the author of the novels Toby’s Room and Life Class, as well as the highly acclaimed Regeneration Trilogy: RegenerationThe Eye in the Door, winner of the Guardian Fiction Prize; and The Ghost Road, winner of the Booker Prize; as well as seven other novels. She lives in the north of England.


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