Barker’s powerfully haunting and gut-wrenching retelling of The Iliad gives a voice to those made powerless by war. The Silence of the Girls will stand the test of time and custom and is a very grim reminder about what war and slavery entail. And it is more pertinent than ever! Recommended By Sheila N., Powells.com
What impressed me most about this absorbing novel is how Pat Barker counters the grand scale and heroic mythos of The Illiad with an equally bold and expansive portrait of the women caught at its center. The characters are phenomenal — nuanced and realistic, but still tied to the gods — and Barker's attention to historical detail makes the sights and smells of the Greek war camp and arena come to life. Harrowing and vivid, The Silence of the Girls belongs next to Christa Wolf's Cassandra and Euripedes's The Trojan Women in the tiny canon of exquisite works about the human collateral of the Trojan War. Recommended By Rhianna W., Powells.com
A retelling of the story of the fall of Troy told from a woman’s perspective — but not just any woman, a queen, Briseis, who becomes a slave when captured. Her rape and subsequent life as a piece of property owned by Achilles form the center of this story. It is a story about a particular time and place, but also a timeless story of the plight of women in a war zone. Recommended By Miriam S., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A Washington Post Notable Book
One of the Best Books of the Year: NPR, The Economist, Financial Times
Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award
Finalist for the Women's Prize for Fiction
Here is the story of the Iliad as we've never heard it before: in the words of Briseis, Trojan queen and captive of Achilles. Given only a few words in Homer's epic and largely erased by history, she is nonetheless a pivotal figure in the Trojan War. In these pages she comes fully to life: wry, watchful, forging connections among her fellow female prisoners even as she is caught between Greece's two most powerful warriors. Her story pulls back the veil on the thousands of women who lived behind the scenes of the Greek army camp — concubines, nurses, prostitutes, the women who lay out the dead — as gods and mortals spar, and as a legendary war hurtles toward its inevitable conclusion. Brilliantly written, filled with moments of terror and beauty, The Silence of the Girls gives voice to an extraordinary woman — and makes an ancient story new again.
"A must read....Both lyrical and brutal, Barker's novel is not to savor delicately but rather to be devoured in great bloody gulps." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Brilliant....This is an important, powerful, memorable book that invites us to look differently not only at The Iliad but at our own ways of telling stories about the past and the present." The Guardian
"[A] fiercely feminist retelling of the Iliad....[Barker] sings the rage of Briseis, captive queen." O, The Oprah Magazine
"Eloquent....Speaks to our times while describing those long gone." The Washington Post
About the Author
Pat Barker is the author of Union Street, Blow Your House Down, Liza's England, The Man Who Wasn't There, the Regeneration trilogy (Regeneration, The Eye in the Door, and The Ghost Road, which won the Booker Prize), Another World, Border Crossing, Double Vision, and the Life Class trilogy (Life Class, Toby's Room, and Noonday). She lives in Durham, England.