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The Silence of the Girls

The Silence of the Girls

A Novel

eBook - 2018
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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 of 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 individuals lives—and it is nothing short of magnificent.
Publisher: 2018
ISBN: 9780385544221
Call Number: OverDrive ebook
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


From Library Staff

This is the Greek Camp of The Iliad, as experienced by the captured women during the final weeks of the Trojan War. Briseis watches and waits for the war's end. She was queen of one of Troy's neighboring kingdoms, until Achilles, looted her city and murdered her family and husband. She becomes A... Read More »

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JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Apr 05, 2021

This gritty Iliad retelling is hard to read. Told from the point of view of Briseis, who lives in the Greek camp after being captured from Troy and granted to Achilles as a prize, there are a lot of graphic depictions of violence and rape. That said it serves up a unique look at an oft romanticized war, and looking at it from a woman's perspective is very purposefully done. Will appeal to fans of Madeline Miller's novels.

Mar 22, 2021

Life and war from a royal woman’s angle, however other, male, narrators took the stage for moments and their voices added depth. Historical perspectives of an ancient civilization and their gender roles. ( Also, although she’s not a main character, you wind up very sympathetic for Helen of Troy by the end.) Good follow up to 'Circe.'

woermkeja Feb 01, 2021

I absolutely love anything and everything Trojan war related and I wanted so hard to love this book but I just couldn't. I personally am not a big fan of books being written in first person, but if you are going to write in first person.. commit to it throughout the whole novel. They switched for a couple of chapters to third person with Achilles but that felt unnecessary. The lead (Briseis) also broke the fourth wall in one part and once again it felt unnecessary. I felt like the ending was rushed and was anticlimactic, especially considering it is the fall of Troy. It was also annoying to me that this was supposed to be about the women and ended up just being about the same key male characters that we already know all about. Better to just read the Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller if you're wanting to read more about Achilles and Patroclus. Very disappointing and found myself trying to rush through to finish so I can start on the next book on my list.

JCLAnneG Oct 31, 2020

A look at the Illiad from the viewpoint (mostly) of Briseis, a complex woman who was a Queen of a Trojan tributary and then became a slave/war prize of Achilles. I have never seen a lyrical telling of the gender roles of ancient Greece shown so compelling. We learn about the Greeks and specifically Achilles, Patroclus, and Agamemnon as Briseis does, showing them to be complex flawed humans, not just distant half-gods of ancient myths.

Aug 02, 2020

Loved reading this version of The Iliad through the female perspective. I was amazed at the untold story of war and seeing Achilles through different eyes. Briesis is a strong dynamic character.

Jan 09, 2020

In this re-telling of Homer’s "The Illiad," we are promised the female perspective. During the end stages of the Trojan war, Queen Briseis sees her husband and brothers killed by Achilles before she is awarded to him as a war trophy/sex slave. But I was disappointed that the focus was not on the women – individual characters, their personal histories, how they were dealing with their captivity, a sense of friendship (or not) amongst them. No, it was simply the Trojan War, its key players and camp life as seen through Briseis’ eyes and sensibilities. A ton of gore and slaughter if you’re into that sort of thing.

Oct 31, 2019

a female slave's view of the Iliad

Sep 28, 2019

Patriarchy is not only amongst the Greek gods, but also in the perspectives of the storytellers. We hear about the heroes in the Trojan War, we hear about goddesses and witches taking sides, but what about the mortal women? Casualties of the Trojan War, they become dehumanized, prizes of the victors.⁣

Briseis the protagonist, captured and awarded to Achilles when her city falls to the Greeks, is known as the symbol of honor that causes starts a chain of events in the Iliad. Yet who is she beyond the symbol? ⁣

Pat Barker examines these women and the “heroes” in question. Some women are martyrs, other struck numb, still others fall in love with their captors. Some captors are kind, others loyal, some cowardly. Barker creates characters that keep the reader on her toes, because although she knows their fates, she becomes too attached to them to remain detached.⁣

I cannot help but compare this retelling to Circe, which I just finished 2 days ago. If you look back to my previous post, you will see that I have given its first half 2.5 stars. I had attributed my boredom to the fact that I knew the characters’ endings already, but I still enjoyed The Silence while knowing its ending. I did some further analysis:

- The stories in the first half of Circe are more of a chronology for us to get to know the protagonist. The episodes are loosely related and not explored enough, so the reader is unable to form an attachment to anyone. ⁣

- Circe the character is not developed enough in the first half of the book. She is too passive and while Briseis is also passive, she explains her mindset in detail while Circe just watches.

Anyway, if you are a fan of Greek mythology and retellings, or just want a story on compassion, pain, and humanity, this is your read. Highly recommended. ⁣

For more book reviews and aesthetic pictures, visit me on Instagram @ RandomStuffIRead !

Sep 04, 2019

Good to have the woman's viewpoint .
Would have helped to have read some background.
Thanks to those who offered a couple of references.

Jul 29, 2019

Tells a gripping story and with a voice not heard before

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Apr 06, 2020

In the same vein as Madeline Miller's "The Song of Achilles," Pat Barker retells the Homeric tale from the perspective of Briseis, the princess of Troy taken as a prize by Achilles. As she narrates the daily interactions with her captor and fellow slaves, it becomes clear to the reader that this is not the romance of rape that has weighed heavily in historic portrayals of the Iliad. The infamous quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon over her features as the event that drives the story, but this book is primarily a character sketch meant to parallel feminist issues that women still face some three thousand years later.


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