Happy Monday! Today I have a book that came highly recommended by my friend, Paula, at Book Jotter and my Goodreads friend, Tammy. Thank you to Doubleday for the ARC to review.
The Silence of the Girls is referred to as a masterpiece in its synopsis. Yes, it is absolutely a stunning masterpiece.
For over 10 years, the city of Troy has been under siege and in battle over Helen, a woman who can observe the war high atop a parapet within the city walls.
Another woman, Briseis, a former queen of a neighboring kingdom, has been captured by and lives in servitude of the man who murdered her husband and brothers, Achilles.
Agamemnon is the leader of all the Greeks, and he demands Briseis to be his, but not without consequences. Achilles, the top fighter for the Greeks, refuses to return to battle. As a result, the Greeks quickly lose ground in their siege on Troy.
Briseis’ voice is powerful. She speaks for herself but also for all of the thousands of hidden women involved in this war.
Pat Barker re-weaves a classic where women are present (not invisible), where they find strength among each other (and are not weak), and where they are depicted as living, breathing humans with opinions and emotions.
The writing is precise and glorious. While you may “know” some of these characters from popular Greek mythology, Briseis’ perspective and Barker’s rich storytelling combine in a way that each character is robust and complex in ways not depicted before.
Barker’s The Silence of the Girls is a study on war and its indelibly human impact as told by a resilient and brave (mythological) woman.
Thank you to Doubleday for the complimentary ARC. All opinions are my own.
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.
Have you read The Silence of the Girls, or is it on your TBR? Have you read any other books by Pat Barker? Happy Reading! ~ Jennifer THR