The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

The Silence of the Girls

The ancient city of Troy has withstood a decade under siege of the powerful Greek army, which continues to wage bloody war over a stolen woman—Helen. In the Greek camp, another woman—Briseis—watches and waits for the war's outcome. 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 ...

Details The Silence of the Girls

TitleThe Silence of the Girls
Release DateSep 4th, 2018
PublisherDoubleday Books
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Fantasy, Mythology, Retellings

Reviews The Silence of the Girls

  • Emily May
    "Great Achilles. Brilliant Achilles, shining Achilles, godlike Achilles . . . How the epithets pile up. We never called him any of those things; we called him ‘the butcher’." The Silence of the Girls is a retelling of Homer's The Iliad that brings in the stories of the women and girls who were, essentially, collateral damage in the Trojan War. Briseis is the narrator. When Lyrnessus falls to the Greeks, she becomes a war prize for Achilles bu...
  • jessica
    sometimes it feels as if my hearts only purpose is to beat for greek mythology and this book is a gift, straight from zeus himself, to give me life. this retelling of the trojan war is, simply put, stunning. whilst classic myths tell about the glory and conquests of men, this focuses on the quiet and unassuming presence of women. elegantly written from the point of briseis, the reader is given a unique perspective that is often overlooked. ‘we ...
  • Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies
    I was a slave, and a slave will do anything, anything at all, to stop being a thing and become a person again. This is a really good historical novel. I didn't say historical romance because it is most definitely not one. If you're expecting a romance novel, you'd be dead wrong.It's a brutal tale. If you're triggered by rape, you should stay away from this book, but it is just a fact, it is not used as a plot device.The theme of this book is surv...
  • Meredith
    “The defeated go down in history and disappear, and their stories die with them.”The Silence of the Girls is a dark and weighty retelling of the Iliad. Told from the voice of one of the defeated, Briseis, the reader is offered a different perspective on the destruction of Troy. Briseis, once a queen, is now a prized possession of Achilles--the same man who destroyed her city and butchered her family. Relegated to be Achilles’ “bed girl,...
  • Melanie
    This was my pick for the September 2018 Book of the Month box! “Looking back, it seemed to me I’d been trying to escape not just from the camp, but from Achilles's story; and I’d failed. Because make no mistake, this was his story—his anger, his grief, his story. I was angry, I was grieving, but somehow that didn’t matter.” Hi, my name is Melanie and 2018 has been the year that I constantly talk about my love for Greek mythos retell...
  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    All the stars to my new favorite read, The Silence of the Girls!Today I have a book that came highly recommended by my friend, Paula, at Book Jotter, and my Goodreads friend, Tammy. My Thoughts: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 wi...
  • Rachel
    It's so hard to divorce my love of the Iliad from my experience reading The Silence of the Girls, but I think that's partially what makes this such a fantastic retelling. Told primarily from the perspective of Briseis, a Trojan captive given to Achilles as a war prize, Pat Barker's novel endeavors to tell the unsung story of the female characters who litter the background of the Ancient Greek epic. And she does a pretty brilliant job.The pleasure...
  • Paromjit
    Pat Barker continues on the themes of war, providing a brutally visceral portrait in this telling of The Iliad, adding the voices of the women missing from the original. When her family is wiped out by the forces of Agamemnon, Briseis becomes the premier warrior, Achilles, trophy prize. Barker provides complex and nuanced characterisation, of the women as slaves, prostitutes, nurses, whilst giving us an Achilles that is less a hero, more a troubl...
  • Tammy
    Royal Briseis is presented to Achilles as a prize for sacking and destroying Lyrnessus a neighboring city of Troy. So this is a re-telling of the final few weeks of The Iliad’s Trojan War from the perspective of a “bed-slave”. While Briseis has it better than the abject slavery of many other female captives her life is, in its own way, just as brutal. The prose of Part One is bewitching but it falls apart for a few chapters within Part Two ...
  • Puck
    "I was a slave, and a slave will do anything, anything at all, to stop being a thing and become a person again." This book was not what I hoped it would be. After reading Circe this summer and falling in love with it, I couldn’t wait to read more historic novels about Greek Mythology. Yet where this story promised to be a retelling of the Iliad from the perspective of the girls (multiple!), I only get one girl. For a while.The beginning and t...
  • Roman Clodia
    I've been trying to escape not just from the camp but from Achilles' story This is the best modern re-telling of the Iliad that I've read - even if it does perhaps extend too far, taking in the aftermath of war as told in Athenian tragedies: the Hekabe, and the Trojan Women especially. Told in a straightforward narrative, the majority in 1st person from Briseis with intermittent 3rd person chapters from the POV of Achilles, this is both accurate ...
  • Paul Fulcher
    "'Silence becomes a woman.' Every woman I’ve ever known was brought up on that saying."Pat Barker's The Silence of the Girls is a retelling of the Iliad, the story of Achilles at the siege of Troy. The epigraph to Barker's novel is what she has said in the inspiration for this book, a passage from Philip Roth's The Human Stain:"‘You know how European literature begins?’ he’d ask, after having taken the roll at the first class meeting. ‘...
  • Jo
    I was greatly excited to get my hands on a beautiful, hardback copy of this particular book. The cover art is just stunning, and really does look amazing in my bookcase. When I realised that this book was potentially a retelling of "The Iliad" but told from an entirely different perspective, I was intrigued. When I discovered it was going to be told from the perspective of Breseis, that was enough to make me purchase the book.The story Barker tel...
  • Hugh
    I have to start with a disclaimer. My knowledge of the classics is poor, I was taught very little at school and I have never read The Iliad. I did read Madeline Miller's The Song of Achilles a couple of years ago, but as far as I can tell both that and this book are selective about which parts of the original to retain, and Barker and Miller put very different spins on the story.The opening is striking: "Great Achilles. Brilliant Achilles, shinin...
  • Canadian
    “Looking back, it seemed to me I’d been trying to escape not just from the camp, but from Achilles’ story . . .”“I thought: Suppose, suppose just once, once, in all these centuries, the slippery gods keep their word and Achilles is granted eternal glory in return for his death under the walls of Troy . . .? What will they make of us, the people of those unimaginably distant times? One thing I do know: they don’t want the brutal reali...
  • Gumble's Yard
    Now longlisted for the Women's Prize 2019. Now it’s full of frightened old men who think their day is over (and they’re probably right) and overexcited young men who jabber till the spit flies, though it’s only stuff they’ve read in the paper. The women have gone very quiet. It’s like the Iliad, you know, when Achilles insults Agamemnon and Agamemnon says he’s got to have Achilles’ girl and Achilles goes off and sulks by the long sh...
  • Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ Campbell
    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestMan, people are getting all up in this book's face because it doesn't read like Madeline Miller. Of course it doesn't read like Madeline Miller. Do you see the name Madeline Miller on the cover? No; it says "Pat Barker." It's like marching up to your step-mom and saying, "YOU'RE NOT MY REAL MOM." Well, duh. But that doesn't necessarily mean that she's a bad person, either.THE SILENCE OF THE G...
  • Patty
    A retelling of the Trojan War from the perspective of Briseis (minor Trojan queen, taken as a war prize and given to Achilles as a slave, then claimed by Agamemnon), and given a radical, feminist spin by focusing on the silenced women and servants.This book should have been amazing. I mean, how do you look at that description and not want to immediately read it? Unfortunately, it's nothing but a disappointment. The prose is just... not good. It's...
  • Eric Anderson
    It’s been frequently observed how retellings of Greek myths have dominated literary fiction lately - from Madeline Miller “Circe” to Colm Toibin’s “House of Names” to modern retakes like “Home Fire” and “Everything Under”. You’d think with this prolific focus on the same characters and situations it’d come to feel repetitive, but I’m finding the more retellings I read the more engaged I am. It was particularly interestin...
  • Trudie
    It is not perfect but I loved this, the 5-star drought is broken ( RTC )
  • Jenna
    "Yes, the death of young men in battle is a tragedy... A tragedy worthy of any number of laments—but theirs is not the worst fate." History is told from the point of view of the historian. Because of this, we often do not know the entire truth; we do not know both sides of a story. We do not hear how "the other" thinks and feels. We have little written by women from the ancient world and thus we do not know how they might have thought and felt ...
  • Donna
    **Warning—this review also contains minor spoilers for the book The Song of Achilles.**While reading The Song of Achilles a few months ago, I was intrigued by a supporting, though unforgettable character in that book named Briseis who tugged at my heartstrings throughout the story. In mythological tales about the Trojan War, she was princess of Lymessus, a Trojan city destroyed by the Greeks in an all out assault led by Achilles. When only 19, ...
  • Jennifer
    In The Silence of the Girls, author Pat Barker takes an important but mainly silent character from Homer's Iliad and gives her voice. She is Achilles' war prize: Briseis, an involuntary sex slave. Through Briseis' point of view, Barker highlights hard truths about the characters in this well-known piece of literature. It's a question about heroes and villains, and an exploration of how women have been treated as commodities all the way back to an...
  • Neil
    This was a re-read and I found the book much stronger on a second time through. The first time through, I gave it four stars but have since thought that maybe that was generous. Re-reading it has confirmed it as 4 stars for me despite some doubts I may have been having.Two topics that often seem to be discussed in relationship to this book are firstly its links to the First World War (and the author's other books on this) and secondly its feminis...
  • Jessica Woodbury
    Telling the story of the Iliad through the eyes of Briseis is a really good idea, there's so much potential to present the familiar through a drastically different lens. As Barker (through Briseis) notes, there is a story of men and glory presented to the world, but the story that isn't told is one of rape and slavery. Ultimately, though, I didn't feel like The Silence of the Girls did enough to change the story. At the end of the day, this book ...
  • Katie Long
    I loved this reimagining of the Iliad from Briseis’s perspective. But that’s just it, I loved it when we were getting Briseis’s perspective. Too often Barker shifts away from her, to an omniscient third person narration of events that she isn’t present for, which pulled me away from the intimacy of her story.
  • Ivy H
    Wow ! Talk about engendering Historical fiction ! But it's an engendering that underscores the hopeless plight in which these women found themselves. Women were, regardless of their status or wealth, for the most part:Pawns;Prizes;Property/chattelThis blew me away and I stayed up until the early hours of this morning reading it because it was "unputdownable". This isn't a happy story and if there's any real romance it's the epic bromance between ...
  • Joseph
    The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker is a retelling of the Illiad through the eyes of Briseis. Barker was born in Thornaby-on-Tees in 1943. She was educated at the London School of Economics and has been a teacher of history and politics. She is the author of several historical fiction novels.Briseis was the mythical queen of Lyrnessus in Asian Minon at the time of the Trojan War. She finds herself trapped in the city walls as the Greeks lay si...