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The Women of Troy

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Following her bestselling, critically acclaimed The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker continues her extraordinary retelling of one of our greatest myths. Troy has fallen. The Greeks have won their bitter war. They can return home victors, loaded with their spoils: their stolen gold, stolen weapons, stolen women. All they need is a good wind to lift their sails. But the wind d Following her bestselling, critically acclaimed The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker continues her extraordinary retelling of one of our greatest myths. Troy has fallen. The Greeks have won their bitter war. They can return home victors, loaded with their spoils: their stolen gold, stolen weapons, stolen women. All they need is a good wind to lift their sails. But the wind does not come. The gods have been offended - the body of Priam lies desecrated, unburied - and so the victors remain in limbo, camped in the shadow of the city they destroyed, pacing at the edge of an unobliging sea. And, in these empty, restless days, the hierarchies that held them together begin to fray, old feuds resurface and new suspicions fester. Largely unnoticed by her squabbling captors, Briseis remains in the Greek encampment. She forges alliances where she can - with young, dangerously naïve Amina, with defiant, aged Hecuba, with Calchus, the disgraced priest - and begins to see the path to a kind of revenge. Briseis has survived the Trojan War, but peacetime may turn out to be even more dangerous...


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Following her bestselling, critically acclaimed The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker continues her extraordinary retelling of one of our greatest myths. Troy has fallen. The Greeks have won their bitter war. They can return home victors, loaded with their spoils: their stolen gold, stolen weapons, stolen women. All they need is a good wind to lift their sails. But the wind d Following her bestselling, critically acclaimed The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker continues her extraordinary retelling of one of our greatest myths. Troy has fallen. The Greeks have won their bitter war. They can return home victors, loaded with their spoils: their stolen gold, stolen weapons, stolen women. All they need is a good wind to lift their sails. But the wind does not come. The gods have been offended - the body of Priam lies desecrated, unburied - and so the victors remain in limbo, camped in the shadow of the city they destroyed, pacing at the edge of an unobliging sea. And, in these empty, restless days, the hierarchies that held them together begin to fray, old feuds resurface and new suspicions fester. Largely unnoticed by her squabbling captors, Briseis remains in the Greek encampment. She forges alliances where she can - with young, dangerously naïve Amina, with defiant, aged Hecuba, with Calchus, the disgraced priest - and begins to see the path to a kind of revenge. Briseis has survived the Trojan War, but peacetime may turn out to be even more dangerous...

30 review for The Women of Troy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    Pat Barker picks up from The Silence of the Girls, giving continuing voice to the silenced women, after the Greeks have emerged victorious from the terrors of the war with the fall of Troy, with all the males wiped out and King Priam left unburied. Laden with the spoils of war, the treasure, the women and the weaponry, they are unable to set off, prevented by the weather, an expression of the gods unhappiness. The scene is set for tensions, conflicts, feuds, suspicions, violence and frustrations Pat Barker picks up from The Silence of the Girls, giving continuing voice to the silenced women, after the Greeks have emerged victorious from the terrors of the war with the fall of Troy, with all the males wiped out and King Priam left unburied. Laden with the spoils of war, the treasure, the women and the weaponry, they are unable to set off, prevented by the weather, an expression of the gods unhappiness. The scene is set for tensions, conflicts, feuds, suspicions, violence and frustrations to arise among the men as they drink copiously. We get some insights into male perspectives, such as that of Achilles's son, Pyrrhus, an insecure boy, feeling the pressure of his father's legacy. This novel can feel a little underpowered in comparison to the previous book, but it provides a more nuanced picture that illustrates that the dangers of peace can be as unnerving and troubling as war. Briseis remains the narrator, having been the prize trophy of the now dead Achilles, she finds herself married to Alcimus, carrying Achilles's child. She is now a woman of status, but feeling a connection with the enslaved women, doing what she can to bring them together, looking to forge alliances. The traumatised, despairing and grieving women, are feeling powerless, resentful, anger, fear, humiliated, struggling to adjust to their circumstances and Barker excels in portraying women who have complicated and differing responses. This is a story of Briseis, the practicality of her nature in dealing with all that that has been thrown at her, this is at the heart of her approach to her current position, of women, their resilience, their ability to survive the most desperate, harrowing and precarious of situations. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Helena V. Paris

    I received this complimentary ARC from the publisher, courtesy of NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. A SEQUEL TO The Silence of the Girls!?!?!?!?! ALL OF MY WISHES HAVE COME TRUE!!! Briseis and Alcimus. After the Trojan War. Which books rarely cover because they stop after Achilles' death. Written in Pat Barker's beautiful prose. Already, I'm calling this as my most anticipated release of 2021!!! :DDD I received this complimentary ARC from the publisher, courtesy of NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. A SEQUEL TO The Silence of the Girls!?!?!?!?! ALL OF MY WISHES HAVE COME TRUE!!! Briseis and Alcimus. After the Trojan War. Which books rarely cover because they stop after Achilles' death. Written in Pat Barker's beautiful prose. Already, I'm calling this as my most anticipated release of 2021!!! :DDD

  3. 4 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    These were men who'd been living on their nerves for years and now, when things should have been easy, they were frustrated because the longed-for journey home was continually postponed. Every day began in hope, every day ended in disappointment. They'd just won a war. How could it be that victory, the greatest in the history of the world... had started to taste like defeat? What I like about this is that Pat Barker keeps things quiet and resists the urge, so prevalent in classical retellings These were men who'd been living on their nerves for years and now, when things should have been easy, they were frustrated because the longed-for journey home was continually postponed. Every day began in hope, every day ended in disappointment. They'd just won a war. How could it be that victory, the greatest in the history of the world... had started to taste like defeat? What I like about this is that Pat Barker keeps things quiet and resists the urge, so prevalent in classical retellings, of falling into melodrama. The whole book takes place in that liminal place and time when Troy has fallen but the winds prevent the Greek fleet from sailing home. The Trojan women are enslaved as concubines and are waiting to be shipped away from their homes, their fathers, husbands, brothers and male children all dead. Briseis, now married, remains a first-person narrator, with continued PoVs from Calchas and now Pyrrhus, Achilles' son (also know as Neoptolemus in Athenian tragedy). The big stories are merely glanced at (view spoiler)[the sacrifice of Polyxena, Hecuba's revenge (hide spoiler)] with foreshadowings from Cassandra's prophecies (view spoiler)[such as the death of Agamemnon, murdered by Clytemnestra, on his arrival home (hide spoiler)] . Instead we have another non-Trojan Greek myth woven into this story (view spoiler)[Antigone's defiance in burying her brother, Polyneices, is adopted in as Amina insists on burying Priam (hide spoiler)] . The big points being made here are the horribly timely and relevant axiom that men are afraid of women laughing at them; women are afraid of men killing them - dramatised via the boy-man Pyrrhus trying desperately to live up to the fierce warrior reputation of his father, Achilles. The fragility and vulnerability of masculinity is articulated; the recourse to violence to prop up ego is shown without need for additional comment from Barker. Once again, there are moments when the Trojan War becomes a polychromatic kaleidoscope which highlights moments from other wars: the reaction of the men dropping out of the wooden horse, for example, feels like that scene from a million films when the commandos are inserted successfully behind enemy lines. I had a few quibbles about the choices the book makes in dealing with the source material: (view spoiler)[Homer and Euripides are far more sympathetic to Helen than this book is where she is a hated figure, and the Menelaus becomes a stock-figure monstrous husband, quite unlike the Menelaus from the The Odyssey when we visit their Sparta home. (hide spoiler)] But I love the irony of Odysseus being the most eager to set sail for home knowing, as we do, that it'll be ten years and many adventures before he gets back to Penelope. Most of all, though, this is a book which is about female suffering and female endurance: raped and brutalised, with children and husbands killed sometimes before their eyes, enslaved and being sent away to Greece, these women are traumatised... but are also survivors. Many thanks to Penguin for an ARC.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    I NEED THIS BOOK NOW

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jacki (Julia Flyte)

    This is the sequel to The Silence of the Girls, which was a retelling of the Iliad from the perspective of Briseis (pronounced Bris-AY-is), the Trojan slave. You do need to have read that book first, as it gets frequently referenced. When the book begins, the Greek army have squeezed themselves inside the Trojan Horse with the hopes of smuggling themselves inside the walls of Troy. Their ruse is a success, and soon every Trojan man, boy and male infant has been slaughtered. The women are capture This is the sequel to The Silence of the Girls, which was a retelling of the Iliad from the perspective of Briseis (pronounced Bris-AY-is), the Trojan slave. You do need to have read that book first, as it gets frequently referenced. When the book begins, the Greek army have squeezed themselves inside the Trojan Horse with the hopes of smuggling themselves inside the walls of Troy. Their ruse is a success, and soon every Trojan man, boy and male infant has been slaughtered. The women are captured and distributed among the Greeks as slaves. The Greeks plan to depart, but the wind is blowing in the wrong direction and they are forced to wait. With no war to distract them, they are restless and argumentative. To the Greeks, the women are invisible: they talk freely in front of them and the women are not considered to have opinions or make plans of their own. This gives the women a degree of freedom but it they are still very much dependent on the men for their survival. “We women are peculiar creatures. We tend not to love those who murder our families.” The first book was based quite closely on the Iliad but this one covers events after that and it has given Pat Barker more freedom to imagine how events emerged. Unlike the first book, the women really do have a voice this time around and several of them are interesting and rounded characters. They are traumatised - they have been raped, they have seen their loved ones killed, they don’t know what the future holds – but they are determined to survive. Briseis is also a more complex and sympathetic character who is still processing her feelings for Achilles (whose child she carries) and Alcimus (to whom she is now married). This was a really satisfying book and an excellent sequel. I received an ARC from Net Galley and Hamish Hamilton.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Karen Kennan

    This book is the sequel to The Silence of The Girls. It takes up at the end of the Trojan War, as the Greeks present the Horse to Troy, with elite warriors secreted inside. It's a modern-day telling of part of the ancient myth The Ilian written by Homer. The story is told mainly through the eyes of Pyrrhus, son of Achilles, trying in vain to live up to the reputation of his now-dead father, and Briseis, widow of Achilles and now wife of Alcimus. It revolves around Pyrrhus' slaughter of the king This book is the sequel to The Silence of The Girls. It takes up at the end of the Trojan War, as the Greeks present the Horse to Troy, with elite warriors secreted inside. It's a modern-day telling of part of the ancient myth The Ilian written by Homer. The story is told mainly through the eyes of Pyrrhus, son of Achilles, trying in vain to live up to the reputation of his now-dead father, and Briseis, widow of Achilles and now wife of Alcimus. It revolves around Pyrrhus' slaughter of the king of Troy, Priam, and the disrespect shown to his body, exploring themes of reciprocity in the classical world. Enslaved Trojan girl sees it as her duty to bury his remains incurring the rage of Pyrrhus, who has is a violent, unstable young man. The greeks are stuck in Troy. Since Priam's murder, the wind has howled around the city meaning the ships have been unable to leave. Questions arise around the end of the war - have their actions displeased the Gods? I really enjoyed this book. Although I have a copy of the previous book, I haven't read it yet, but found that I got into this one no problem, if you have a bit of knowledge of Greek myth. The language is very accessible and easy to read. I would like to see Pat Barker explore other episodes of the Iiad. I'm really enjoying these retellings of history and myth from a female angle, as we know that the vast majority of both are written through a male len

  7. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    I love Greek Mythology. Whether it comes in the form of an epic children's adventure like the Percy Jackson series, a teen angst fest like "Starcrossed" or something spellbinding like "Circe"...I am totally here for it. Pat Barker's "The Silence of the Girls" was one of my favourites of the many retellings I've read over the years. It was brutal yet beautiful and unsurprisingly so too is "The Women of Troy". Told during the time after Troy had fallen, when the Greeks were prevented from sailing I love Greek Mythology. Whether it comes in the form of an epic children's adventure like the Percy Jackson series, a teen angst fest like "Starcrossed" or something spellbinding like "Circe"...I am totally here for it. Pat Barker's "The Silence of the Girls" was one of my favourites of the many retellings I've read over the years. It was brutal yet beautiful and unsurprisingly so too is "The Women of Troy". Told during the time after Troy had fallen, when the Greeks were prevented from sailing home in glory by angry, vengeful winds, we follow Briseis once again as she navigates a new set of trials and tribulations now that she's married to Alcimus and no longer a slave. Briseis is still our main narrator and it's her quiet resilience and support towards the women of the camp that I like most about this book. I also enjoyed the glimpses into life after the war through Calchus and Pyrrhus's POV that offered a different flavor to the story. Although I was never expecting or really even needing a sequel to "The Silence of the Girls" I have thoroughly enjoyed this installment and can't help but want another to follow Briseis now that they've left behind the shores of Troy. Thank you NetGalley and Penguin General for providing me with a free digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    As a great fan of Pat Barker’s ‘Regeneration’ trilogy, I was intrigued to read her ‘regenerating’ of the Greek victory over Troy in ‘The Trojan Women’. Despite their triumph over Troy following the 10 year siege, and their sadistic murder of Trojan King Priam, the Greeks are stranded, unable to sail home because of weather conditions. In the ‘waiting time’, these ‘great’ Greek heroes; including the sons of Achilles, drink, and establish flimsy loyalties, while the captured Trojan women wait toget As a great fan of Pat Barker’s ‘Regeneration’ trilogy, I was intrigued to read her ‘regenerating’ of the Greek victory over Troy in ‘The Trojan Women’. Despite their triumph over Troy following the 10 year siege, and their sadistic murder of Trojan King Priam, the Greeks are stranded, unable to sail home because of weather conditions. In the ‘waiting time’, these ‘great’ Greek heroes; including the sons of Achilles, drink, and establish flimsy loyalties, while the captured Trojan women wait together in a compound for the call to satisfy the sexual appetites of Greek men satiated by food and wine, exhausted by uproarious singing and incapable of only the most feeble but humiliating violation of their enemies’ wives and daughters. Meanwhile, Breseis, mistress of Achilles, comforts and connects the Trojan women in a kind of sisterhood. United, they grow strong, stronger than ‘the men. Unforgettable opening and a modern, fresh addition to the genre of retelling classical myths. With many thanks to #Penguin General and #NetGalley for my free download in return for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Katy Crowe

    A follow up to the hugely successful (and brilliant) The Silence of the Girls, The Women of Troy picks up almost exactly at the end of the first book. I really enjoyed The Silence of the Girls, which I read last year so was really excited to read this new addition to the story. At the start I struggled to get into it. I wish I’d reread The Silence of the Girls before I started as I think that would have really helped. Once I started to remember the characters, though, I was really engaged by it A follow up to the hugely successful (and brilliant) The Silence of the Girls, The Women of Troy picks up almost exactly at the end of the first book. I really enjoyed The Silence of the Girls, which I read last year so was really excited to read this new addition to the story. At the start I struggled to get into it. I wish I’d reread The Silence of the Girls before I started as I think that would have really helped. Once I started to remember the characters, though, I was really engaged by it and began to really enjoy it. It was lovely to pick up the stories again, and it’s actually made me want to go back and reread The Silence of the Girls again now I’ve finished. The ending makes me realise (and hope!) that there is a 3rd book in the series to come, which will hopefully finish up the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and think it will be very successful. Thank you for my review copy in return for this honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Helen White

    This continues Briseis's narrative of life after Troy has been destroyed. Now she is married to Alcimus but carrying Achilles' child. Her position is as tenuous as it ever was - slave, prize, wife. Her friendships and alliances with the other women weave her through the story. Through her we see the hatred of Helen and the distrust of Cassandra. We also see Pyrrhus trying to live up to the legacy of his father Achilles. As this follows the section of the tale where the Greeks are waiting for the This continues Briseis's narrative of life after Troy has been destroyed. Now she is married to Alcimus but carrying Achilles' child. Her position is as tenuous as it ever was - slave, prize, wife. Her friendships and alliances with the other women weave her through the story. Through her we see the hatred of Helen and the distrust of Cassandra. We also see Pyrrhus trying to live up to the legacy of his father Achilles. As this follows the section of the tale where the Greeks are waiting for the Gods to forgive them and improve the weather so they can return home there is a slowness to the book. Which also leads to a sense of menace - just like the characters the readers are waiting for something to happen. Which will come first a change in the weather or fighting between the Greek heroes? Thanks to the publishers and netgalley for the arc.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Serena

    I am curious if this will be Briseis, Alcimus, Hecuba and soothsayer Calchas, going on their own sea voyage to found a new land/home, somewhat hopefully have in mind short stories from Tansy Rayner Roberts How to Survive an Epic Journey and Andromache’s War by Elliott Dunstan from Scourge of the Seas of Time or something else entirely... I am curious if this will be Briseis, Alcimus, Hecuba and soothsayer Calchas, going on their own sea voyage to found a new land/home, somewhat hopefully have in mind short stories from Tansy Rayner Roberts How to Survive an Epic Journey and Andromache’s War by Elliott Dunstan from Scourge of the Seas of Time or something else entirely...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Britt.and.Lit.Books Beam

    I am so thoroughly impressed with Pat Barker. This is historical fiction at its best. In this novel, Troy has been destroyed and the victors end up unable to get back home when no winds arrive for them to sail. They now have to live in the fallen city until they can go home. The book is a sequel to The Silence of the Girls and follows the stories of the incredible women who struggled through these events. I definitely need to read The Silence of the Girls now, since I hadn’t read it before. This I am so thoroughly impressed with Pat Barker. This is historical fiction at its best. In this novel, Troy has been destroyed and the victors end up unable to get back home when no winds arrive for them to sail. They now have to live in the fallen city until they can go home. The book is a sequel to The Silence of the Girls and follows the stories of the incredible women who struggled through these events. I definitely need to read The Silence of the Girls now, since I hadn’t read it before. This book went a little slow and lagged at times, however I’ve read that The Silence of the Girls is more fast-paced and action packed. Pat Barker is a great historical fiction author though, who seems to research her novels very well.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    A brilliant and utterly absorbing follow up to The Silence of the Girls. This is a gripping and immersive read - my feet feel dusty from walking around the Trojan camp with Briseis and the other forgotten women of the epic war. I can't wait to see what Pat Barker writes next, MORE PLEASE! Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of this novel. A brilliant and utterly absorbing follow up to The Silence of the Girls. This is a gripping and immersive read - my feet feel dusty from walking around the Trojan camp with Briseis and the other forgotten women of the epic war. I can't wait to see what Pat Barker writes next, MORE PLEASE! Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of this novel.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Myc

    These comments are for an advanced copy of The Women of Troy, which I was sent in exchange for a review. The sequel to The Silence of the Girls, I went into this novel with incredibly high hopes expecting some of that same magic. But, unfortunately, this is markedly less interesting than the original. Lumbering and frequently boring, Barker manages to somehow write well below her abilities here, making most of the characters into condescending and unsympathetic stereotypes. Then there’s the issu These comments are for an advanced copy of The Women of Troy, which I was sent in exchange for a review. The sequel to The Silence of the Girls, I went into this novel with incredibly high hopes expecting some of that same magic. But, unfortunately, this is markedly less interesting than the original. Lumbering and frequently boring, Barker manages to somehow write well below her abilities here, making most of the characters into condescending and unsympathetic stereotypes. Then there’s the issue of problematic portrayals. Barker has an entire section dedicated to Briseis mentally fat shaming a side character who is apparently so large that her pregnancy goes unnoticed until delivery (to say nothing of several characters being identified as “retarded”). So. There’s that. Briseis still delivers a coarse presentation of women’s experiences in the aftermath of the Trojan War (gritty and horrifying, complete with the anachronistic language idioms readers of The Silence of the Girls would expect), but she now comes across as more of a shallow reflection of the world happening around her, never really offering the depth of characterization that was expected. Pyrrhus, the least likable character by far, somehow comes out of this as the most complicated and fully developed. In the ever-growing pantheon of myth retellings (The Song of Achilles, Circe, The Children of Jocasta, A Thousand Ships, The Witch’s Heart, and on and on), this highly anticipated entry misses the mark and was, ultimately, pretty disappointing.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Josh Hedgepeth

    I'm curious to see how this compares to the other recent retellings of Troy. I'm curious to see how this compares to the other recent retellings of Troy.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Emily Davies (libraryofcalliope)

    A huge thank you to Netgalley and Penguin for providing me with an ARC. This novel follows on from the previous work, the prior being set during the events of Homer's Iliad and this novel taking place in the aftermath of the war, starting with the Trojan Horse and ending with the Greeks finally making their voyages home. When I read The Silence of the Girls, I considered it to absolutely be setting the bar for future mythology retellings to aspire to and I am really happy that the sequel does th A huge thank you to Netgalley and Penguin for providing me with an ARC. This novel follows on from the previous work, the prior being set during the events of Homer's Iliad and this novel taking place in the aftermath of the war, starting with the Trojan Horse and ending with the Greeks finally making their voyages home. When I read The Silence of the Girls, I considered it to absolutely be setting the bar for future mythology retellings to aspire to and I am really happy that the sequel does the same. While I did not necessarily think there needed to be a sequel, the novel more than justifies its existence by the themes it explores, all of which are fascinating, difficult and thoroughly examined. Let us start with Briseis, the first-person narrator in a majority of the chapters in both this book and its previous one. What Barker does with Briseis is incredibly interesting. Briseis was captured before the sack of Troy so is already part of the furniture of the Greek camp when the newly added female prisoners, slaves and 'conqubines" arrive. She is both a person of authority but also was one of them. But also technically not in the same category anymore. She is pregnant to Achilles' child and Achilles arranged a marriage to one of his advisors before his death ensuring her a certain amount of protection now that elevates her from the women she feels a kinship with. The way Pat Barker depicts this difficult situation is done very well. In a continuation of the themes in the previous novel, Briseis is very conscious of her position relative to other women and that consciousness influences her actions. The complexity of the depiction of Briseis' pregnancy is incredible. Barker doesn't fall into the trap of motherhood and maternal feelings triumphing over all. Much in the same way Barker allowed Briseis' complicated relationship with Achilles to not simply be a 'rocky romance' (or even a romance at all), Barker allows the difficult plotline to breathe, to exist. Briseis' pregnancy while always being grounded and personal, also adds an additional element to the discussion of gender in the narrative, in the way that pregnancy is actually the way to achieve stability and security for the women in the camp despite the horror involved. There is a certain amount of pragmaticism in Briseis' outlook throughout the book, something that I think is one of the strongest but most understated themes. What Barker does extremely well in these books is her portrayal of the banality of grief, outrage and trauma. It is exhausting going through what the characters do, to be so scared, humiliated, victimised and destroyed all the time. They are living nightmares but equally the nightmares have become normal. It is subtle but incredibly poignant. Achilles is already dead at the opening of this novel, so this time Barker's second POV character is Achilles' only son, Pyrrhus. What Barker did so masterfully with Pyrrhus, was she perfectly demonstrated the yoke he suffers under from the legacy of his father but never exonerates his actions. Pyrrhus has gained a pretty nasty reputation mythologically, known for the killings of the elderly Priam, several of Priam's children, including his young daughters and even Priam's infant grandson. In this novel, Barker crafts a horrible, unpredictable, arrogant, petulant, child-warrior in the 16-year-old Pyrrhus, never shying away from his terrible deeds while still depicting his desperation for approval and the horrendous insecurity he feels from being Great Achilles' son. Her 'explanations' serve not to invite the reader to forgive him but to contribute to the incredibly complex portrayal much as she did for Achilles previously. I was so impressed with the nuance of her depiction. With the fall of Troy, we also see many more iconic mythological women entering the camp. Hecuba, Andromache, Cassandra and Helen all feature heavily in the narrative, each used to explore different reactions to grief and despair. The collective experiences of these women along with the "common women", provides an interesting analysis of gender in these stories. In the world of Greek mythology, women are stateless. Their nationality, their clan, is that of their husbands, fathers or masters, meaning the way they engage with the world is fundamentally different to those of the Greeks. Geographically they have moved a matter of miles, but as far as the Greeks are concerned there are only two Trojans in the camp; the men. However, again the enforcement of this notion is not simply imposed on them by the men themselves but reproduced in the women, alienating them from each other. The depiction of Helen is especially interesting in this regard, with Barker's insightful emphasis on the way many women actually appear to blame Helen more than any of the men who have committed the crimes against them. There is a sense of her having asked for it, having deserved everything despite the war being the result of men. The power dynamics are not taken for granted but are exposed in these novels, even when it comes to the relative privilege women like Briseis and Hecuba have, without negating the things they have been through. The depiction of the women in the camp is not ever simple, which is exactly as it should be. The situation is not simple. Fundamentally that is what makes these retellings so good. Instead of a vacuous cry for girl power, Barker really analyses and considers the position of women and men in these stories and the result is fantastic to read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Neil

    This is the sequel to Pat Barker’s “The Silence of the Girls” and it picks up where its predecessor finished. For those who love these books, the good news is that, given what happens here and what doesn’t happen here, there must be more to come. We begin in the Trojan Horse with soldiers crammed in together worrying about whether they will be discovered and massacred or will remain hidden and successfully open the city gates to allow the army in. We know what will happen. What follows is Pat Bark This is the sequel to Pat Barker’s “The Silence of the Girls” and it picks up where its predecessor finished. For those who love these books, the good news is that, given what happens here and what doesn’t happen here, there must be more to come. We begin in the Trojan Horse with soldiers crammed in together worrying about whether they will be discovered and massacred or will remain hidden and successfully open the city gates to allow the army in. We know what will happen. What follows is Pat Barker’s re-imagining of the story of the Greek army stranded on the beach unable to return home. As with the preceding novel, the main narrator is Briseis, but we also spend time with Pyrrhus (Achilles’ son) and Calchas, the priest. The whole novel, especially the first half, is filled with a sense of waiting - this is almost a dead time in the ancient story when nothing can happen: Troy has fallen but the army is stranded by a supernatural wind. What this means is that Barker can focus on the politics, the games that people in power play, the fight for survival for those less fortunate (especially the women). It’s a quieter book than its predecessor, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In The Silence of the Girls, I wasn’t sure about the occasional chapters that skipped away from Briseis as narrator and moved to one of the men. In reality, this was the only way Barker could tell the story because there are parts of it that Briseis simply could not have known about. Here, the mix of narrative viewpoints feels a lot more balanced. The focus is still Briseis and the story of the women, but the inclusion of Calchas and Pyrrhus feels more natural to me. I am by no means an expert on these stories. In fact, I barely really know the basic details other than what I have pieced together from the many re-tellings that have been published over the last few years. However, even to me, it is clear that Barker is not opting for a simple re-telling. I’m pretty sure the story of Antigone gets re-told here, for example, with different characters. And a key plot point is taken from Priam’s visit to Achilles as related in some detail in The Silence of the Girls. Here, I did go back and re-read that section of the first book and Barker has clearly thought about these two books (and the one to follow) together and laid the foundations in the first. In the first half of this book, I found myself struggling to get engaged properly. I wasn’t sure if it was due to my lack of knowledge of the original or just that the book takes a while to get going. But the second half of this book is, for me, a lot stronger. It’s not simply that there is more drama/action in the second half, but more that it felt to me as though the book found its purpose. As the book draws to a close, it is clear that the story is not done. To me, it feels like there has to be a third book. And it also feels like the best approach would be to read all three together as one long book. This book could be read standalone, I think, especially if the reader had a working knowledge of the original story. But I think it works far better read in conjunction with its predecessor. My thanks to the publisher for an ARC via NetGalley.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Keith Currie

    War’s end Pat Barker’s second Trojan War novel begins inside the Wooden Horse as the Greeks wait to see if Odysseus’ trick will work and The Trojans will transport the Horse within their walls. This is an effective scene with the stink of the soldiers’ sweat, their fear that the plan is just too preposterous, their attempts to appear brave and unconcerned. The scene centres on the youthful son of Achilles, the lately arrived Pyrrhus, who has much to prove to the other warriors and to himself. The War’s end Pat Barker’s second Trojan War novel begins inside the Wooden Horse as the Greeks wait to see if Odysseus’ trick will work and The Trojans will transport the Horse within their walls. This is an effective scene with the stink of the soldiers’ sweat, their fear that the plan is just too preposterous, their attempts to appear brave and unconcerned. The scene centres on the youthful son of Achilles, the lately arrived Pyrrhus, who has much to prove to the other warriors and to himself. The fall of Troy and Pyrrhus’ brutal murder of King Priam are rendered with apocalyptic violence, Pyrrhus realising he has fallen lamentably short of his father’s ability, insulted by the dying Priam in front of the watching women of Troy. Pyrrhus orders the body of the dead king to be unburied. This impiety of the victorious Greeks leads to punishment from the gods, the fleet unable to depart from the Trojan coast, tormented by an endless wind whose moans echoes the spirits of the dead Trojans. In this desert-like landscape wander the Trojan women, now slaves of their Greek conquerors and the soldiers, anxious to depart for home. Among the women is Briseis, once the ‘prize’ of Achilles, now married to his lieutenant, and carrying Achilles’ child. As a free Trojan, respected for her marriage, she visits the captive women offering them what help she can. Barker’s novel is not what I imagined it might be: I had thought it a sort of retelling of Euripides’ play, The Trojan Women. Yes, the characters from that play all appear: Queen Hekabe, Priam’s widow, now the slave of Odysseus, but formidable still; Spartan Helen, reconciled to her husband Menelaus, hated by all; Cassandra, wed to Agamemnon, grimly satisfied with the future she alone foresees; Andromache, Hector’s widow, bereft of her child, now concubine of the brutal Pyrrhus. But the part played by these women is minor. The author places the unburied corpse of Priam at the centre, ropes in the plot of another ancient work, the Antigone of Sophocles, and makes Greek departure from the land of Troy contingent on the observation of moral decencies demanded of victors. For me what made this a marvellous novel was the brilliant portrayal of Pyrrhus. He is Achilles’ son, so he is strong and powerful. But he is Achilles’ son, so he is insecure and feels inadequate in comparison to his father. He is a violent killer, but he can be surprisingly thoughtful and sensitive. His relationship with Briseis who carries Achilles’ unborn child is interesting and, if there is another novel to succeed this one, it will be fascinating to see how that relationship develops. The novel is demonstrably of the same world as its predecessor, but its atmosphere of doom, of the dissatisfaction of victory, of the maltreatment of the conquered, of the perceived inadequacies of the men, especially Pyrrhus, of the longsuffering patience of the women, their desire for revenge, but also for peace, all these integrate into an immensely moving whole. Some may not like it as much as the first. But the first had Achilles. This one has his son. And the story is not over. There may be more to come.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Natasha

    Pat Barkers’ remarkable followup to her bestselling ‘The Silence of The Girls’ is truly a masterfully written and powerfully poignant look at the aftermath of war from the POV of the unrecognised,historically silenced (and primarily female) victims. Troy has fallen, the Greeks have won their decades long war. Finally being able to return home with their spoils (in gold and in women), wind in their sails—except the wind doesn’t arrive, for the Gods are offended. The former King Priam’s remains sti Pat Barkers’ remarkable followup to her bestselling ‘The Silence of The Girls’ is truly a masterfully written and powerfully poignant look at the aftermath of war from the POV of the unrecognised,historically silenced (and primarily female) victims. Troy has fallen, the Greeks have won their decades long war. Finally being able to return home with their spoils (in gold and in women), wind in their sails—except the wind doesn’t arrive, for the Gods are offended. The former King Priam’s remains still lies unburied, desecrated. Restlessness starts take hold, as the victors—unable to return home, are trapped in the haunting ruins of city they destroyed. Hierarchies and alliances start to unravel and old feuds (and new) begin to fester. Briseis, left (rather unnoticed )in the Greek Camp, has begun to make alliances of her own, with naive Amina, defiant Trojan Queen Hecuba and disgraced Priest Calchus in the hopes to secure vengeance on their captors. But safety isn’t guaranteed just yet, for peacetime can be just as dangerous as War. An exceptionally riveting sequel, I really enjoyed it and dare I say more than it’s predecessor, it’s told in first person by Briseis as was the case in The Silence of The Girls, but we also get a (third person) glimpse into the lives of the men, through Calchus and Pyrrhus (son of Achilles) I did feel there was less action here than in Barkers’ previous book, though the narrative is still firmly focused on the women and the grief of their loss (not just their freedom but also the lives of their families). I was absolutely captivated by the heart-breaking, humanness of it all. Briseis was an incredibly well written character and her strength was particularly empowering,seeing her try to comfort these women in the face of their grief was incredibly moving. But I’d say the echoes of war and the ghosts of the dead play a huge role in the narrative, especially for Pyrrhus living in the shadows of his dead father and Agamemnon, whose fear of Achilles still haunts him. I’d also thought I’d say though there is violence in this,there’s not nearly as much violence as In The Silence of the Girls and I enjoyed this one more for it. I’d definitely Recommend to fans of Madeline Miller and Jennifer Saint, Greek mythology or historical retellings. Also a huge thank you to Penguin/Hamish Hamilton and NetGalley for the digital ARC.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sid Nuncius

    I thought The Women Of Troy was very good. It’s perhaps not quite as brilliant as its predecessor, The Silence Of The Girls, but Pat Barker has produced another superbly told, humane and completely real story here as she continues her retelling of the fall of Troy and its aftermath through the eyes of Briseis, once Achilles’ Prize Of Honour, now married to Achilles friend. The events here are, of course, very well documented in the Iliad, the Aeneid and in countless retellings since. What makes t I thought The Women Of Troy was very good. It’s perhaps not quite as brilliant as its predecessor, The Silence Of The Girls, but Pat Barker has produced another superbly told, humane and completely real story here as she continues her retelling of the fall of Troy and its aftermath through the eyes of Briseis, once Achilles’ Prize Of Honour, now married to Achilles friend. The events here are, of course, very well documented in the Iliad, the Aeneid and in countless retellings since. What makes this special for me is Barker’s remarkable ability to convey the human experience of her characters, most notably the Trojan women who are now enslaved by the Greeks. The Greeks themselves are stranded on the plain of Troy by a persistent hostile wind and the growing atmosphere of discontent, lawlessness and violence is beautifully evoked – partly in the behaviour of the men, but most powerfully in its effect on the women, who are never safe from male whim and violence. It’s a timely portrayal which has strong echoes today, but one which is never heavy-handed which makes its impact all the greater for me. All of this is done in lovely, unflashy prose. It is writing which is extremely evocative without ever drawing attention to itself, so the real, day-to-day experience of these characters from a heroic tale is quite remarkably vivid. Briseis’s voice is especially good, with her intelligent observation of the monstrous inhumanity with which the women are treated, coupled with her fatalistic acceptance that she cannot resist it and her quiet, determined resilience. Once or twice there is a flash of genuine anger, for example when the Greek men are concerned because many women, including priestesses, were raped in temples and that the desecration of the temples has angered the gods. “B- that, I thought, what about the women?” is Briseis’s response and it hits you in the face. Her characters are excellently portrayed – especially the adolescent Pyrrhus, for me. There are also some genuinely moving moments, like the birth of a child to a slave and a long-delayed hero’s funeral. Perhaps because the idea is now more familiar, this didn’t have quite the impact of The Silence Of The Girls for me, but it’s still an excellent, engrossing read with some very important content, expertly developed. Warmly recommended.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Gilmore

    The Silence of the Girls was one of my stand out books from the last decade, a book which made me reevaluate my girlish and unthinking crush on Achilles (A level classics), a masterclass in how historical fiction can be timely and resonant, with its themes of sexual slavery, violence and survival all too pertinent today all over the world; which made me both eager for and hesitant about a sequel, not wanting the brilliance of the original to be diluted if the sequel didn't live up to expectation The Silence of the Girls was one of my stand out books from the last decade, a book which made me reevaluate my girlish and unthinking crush on Achilles (A level classics), a masterclass in how historical fiction can be timely and resonant, with its themes of sexual slavery, violence and survival all too pertinent today all over the world; which made me both eager for and hesitant about a sequel, not wanting the brilliance of the original to be diluted if the sequel didn't live up to expectations. Of course, this is Pat Barker and so I should have known better than to worry. The Women of Troy (mostly) picks up the story after the fall of Troy, when the winds keep the victors prisoner on the beaches with their spoils, unable to sail home after the ten long years of war, resentments burning deep. Menelaus has taken his wife back to the disgust - and envy - of all those who gave so much to avenge her adultery, Agamemnon marries the Trojan princess, Cassandra, despite her dire predictions of the fate that awaits them both, and Achilles son, Pyrrhus, sixteen with everything still to prove, not least to himself, perpetually in his dead father's shadow, takes Andromache, Hector's widow, as his prize, her father in law and baby son's blood on his hands. her husband's on his father's. The men of Troy are nearly all dead, a priest and a disgraced son the only exceptions. Every male child was killed, every pregnant woman slaughtered. The women, no matter their former status, are now slaves and prizes and in the Myrmidon camp, princesses and former slaves wait together in the women's hut to be taken away from their burnt city for a life of indenture in faraway lands. Watching over these new slaves and living spoils of war is Briseis, now a wife to one of Achilles generals and carrying Achilles child. She knows what it feels like to lie in the bed of the man who slaughtered your family, she knows what it means to choose to survive and she will do everything she can to help these women do the same. Meanwhile unnatural winds continue to hold the Greeks prisoner, and questions are asked. What have they done to offend the gods and what - and whose - sacrifice will allow them to sail away? Taut, gripping, wearing its scholarship lightly, The Women of Troy once more puts the women at the heart of this story of war and revenge. Highly recommended.

  22. 5 out of 5

    The Word Whisperer

    After reading a copy of Rosemary Sutcliff's Eagle of the Ninth, I have been hooked on historical fiction ever since. But each book I've read since has always been dominated by a male antagonist, a male author, with only a footnote mention of any female characters. All the books have a female love interest, a few lines of the horrors the women of any losing battle faced but none reflected on what happened to these women until now. Pat Barker has given a voice to all the women, both fictional and After reading a copy of Rosemary Sutcliff's Eagle of the Ninth, I have been hooked on historical fiction ever since. But each book I've read since has always been dominated by a male antagonist, a male author, with only a footnote mention of any female characters. All the books have a female love interest, a few lines of the horrors the women of any losing battle faced but none reflected on what happened to these women until now. Pat Barker has given a voice to all the women, both fictional and real, that had to endure the terror's that were reaped upon them by the emerging victors. We once more follow Briseis narration, now after the fall of Troy, pregnant with Achilles’ child, married to Alcimus and comforter to all the other captive women. She details the grief that she herself feels, after the loses she suffered. The mixed feelings of a carrying a child that she didn't want, but feeling it grow inside her and the maternal inclinations it brings. Summed up by Andromache, " How are we supposed to love their children." We hear the nightmares of the other women in the Greek camp, from forced marriage, playthings to the powerful, slaves with no free will and a life of perpetual servitude. But the main theme of the book is one of survival. Surviving against the odds, doing what needs to be done, regardless of what it entails. What these women endure in order to just survive the day, proves beyond doubt the lengths mankind and womankind will do for the next breath, that the one they take will not to be their last. This book gives you an idea of what every woman over the centuries has had to endure after the last defending soldier fell to endure and that in itself makes the story compelling, enlightening and insightful. The perspective may have changed, but this a must read for all fans of historical fiction and lovers of Troy. I for one cannot wait to see what lies in store for 'The Women of Troy' as they embark on the journey back to Greece. VERDICT: 4****/5. Pat Barker brings a refreshing change of insight to a male dominated genre, author and character alike. If you loved Stephen Fry's Troy then this series of books are for you, which gives you a woman's perspective on all thing Trojan.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Beth Horry

    The hangover of an Ancient History degree is being attracted to any modern retelling of myth. Try as I might I cannot help but be drawn in by any whisper of classical reception. I read Silence of the Girls in 2019 and didn't realise going into this book that it serves essentially as a sequel to that story. Briseis is at the helm again guiding us through the aftermath of the Trojan War as the Greeks wait to return home. This time it is Pyrrhus, rather than Achilles, whose mind we get an extra ins The hangover of an Ancient History degree is being attracted to any modern retelling of myth. Try as I might I cannot help but be drawn in by any whisper of classical reception. I read Silence of the Girls in 2019 and didn't realise going into this book that it serves essentially as a sequel to that story. Briseis is at the helm again guiding us through the aftermath of the Trojan War as the Greeks wait to return home. This time it is Pyrrhus, rather than Achilles, whose mind we get an extra insight to. I really enjoyed this characterisation because I don't remember ever coming across adaptations or retellings that have concentrated on the son of Achilles. By considering the question of what it is like to be the son of the great Achilles, Barker sets up a really interesting narrative. Overall I enjoyed The Women of Troy more than The Silence of the Girls. I found myself wrapped up in the story from the offset and raced through the first 50% of the book. I did think the momentum was lost towards the second half. I suspect that could be because I was craving a bit more of Pyrrhus' voice. The internal battle with himself that Barker presents was the most interesting aspect of the book to me. It feels slightly wrong to say that when female characters are so often overlooked in ancient myth, so perhaps I should have been more interested in the other female characters involved. Having said that, I loved the inclusion of characters like Amina and Helle. So often even in feminist retellings of myth it is the upper class women that are given centre stage so to hear the story of slaves was refreshing. Equally I always enjoy seeing the way in which different writers present the well worn characters of people like Helen, Hecuba and Adromachae. I would 100% recommend this to anyone who finds themselves drawn in by stories involving ancient myth. There is a reason these tales have stood the test of time and even now writers like Pat Barker manage to add another layer to the narrative.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Geri

    I was eagerly anticipating this sequel to The Silence of the Girls, the story of Briseis and the other Trojan women captured in the Greek/Trojan wars. I re-read that first novel in the trilogy before reading The Women of Troy and reminded myself of the historical characters and the powerful voice of Briseis who gave their story back to all those women that history has forgotten. This new novel starts where The Silence of the Girls ended: Achilles has just died in battle. Briseis is pregnant with I was eagerly anticipating this sequel to The Silence of the Girls, the story of Briseis and the other Trojan women captured in the Greek/Trojan wars. I re-read that first novel in the trilogy before reading The Women of Troy and reminded myself of the historical characters and the powerful voice of Briseis who gave their story back to all those women that history has forgotten. This new novel starts where The Silence of the Girls ended: Achilles has just died in battle. Briseis is pregnant with Achilles' child and is married to Alcimus, so now in principle a 'free' woman and no longer a slave. New arrivals in this second episode include Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles, who never met his father but arrogantly assumes that the world should view him as the fearless warrior that his father was. There is also an increased focus on Calchas, the Trojan seer who advises Agamemnon while being ridiculed by many of the Greek warriors. This novel focuses on the long wait of the Greek army to return home following the fall of Troy. The winds are against them setting sail for home and they are stranded in the beach encampment, frustrated and irritable. Briseis is lonely and unhappy in her life. Her husband is rarely at home and she misses the companionship of her friends from when she lived as Achilles' slave. She works hard to create and maintain bonds with the other 'Trojan women', most of whom are now living as slaves in the women's hut. Perhaps Pat Barker intentionally made the narrative of a short time stretch out to mirror the feelings of those waiting but I felt there was too much repetition and not enough of the plot and character development that I had seen in the first novel. By the end of this book Briseis is still pregnant and she is about to set sail for a new home. I will read the next part of the trilogy because overall they are well researched and written but I will not be so desperately waiting for the third part to be published. My thanks to the publisher via Net Galley for a complimentary ARC of this title in return for an unbiased review.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    We’re straight back on the beaches at Troy for Barker’s second book in this series, rewriting the classic Homerian epic from the perspective of the lesser characters, particularly the women, who are all too often silent in these histories. The story opens at the nail-bitingly, viscerally cinematic pivot point of the ten-year Trojan War, where the wooden horse containing the Achaean fighters is wheeled inside the city’s gates. We’re given a glimpse of what really occurs at the death of Priam, the We’re straight back on the beaches at Troy for Barker’s second book in this series, rewriting the classic Homerian epic from the perspective of the lesser characters, particularly the women, who are all too often silent in these histories. The story opens at the nail-bitingly, viscerally cinematic pivot point of the ten-year Trojan War, where the wooden horse containing the Achaean fighters is wheeled inside the city’s gates. We’re given a glimpse of what really occurs at the death of Priam, the King of Troy, before the “exploits run from mouth to mouth and no doubt grew in the telling” – then returning to Agamemnon’s camp and the mind of Briseis, once a minor royal, now enslaved alongside the other women whose communities fell to these rampaging armies. She is pregnant, carrying the child of now-dead Achilles, and was swiftly married to his ally Lord Alcimus upon the warrior’s death, which has made her a free woman – saving her from a position stuck on the lowest possible rung of the ladder and giving her the ability to move around the camp, taking us with her as she goes. Despite victory, the Achaean forces are trapped on the beaches by the winds with no hope of returning home, and resentment building with every day that passes - yet with King Priam’s rotting body lying unburied, dishonoured on the dunes, will the Gods ever allow them to return home? Barker expertly balances the domestic with the divine, giving us more of her addictive, alternative accounts of historically-accepted versions of events. Although Troy’s siege is said to have happened over three thousand years ago, hearing Briseis’s innermost thoughts, fears and hopes make the events feel timeless - which is how you know this series deserves its inevitable status as a modern classic. Featured in June’s Book Club in Cambridge Edition Magazine – thanks to #NetGalley for the advance copy! https://online.bright-publishing.com/...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Women of Troy by Pat Barker is an excellent historical fiction that is the follow up to the equally impressive book titled The Silence of the Girls. This was entertaining and I really enjoyed it. While it is a sequel, I feel it can still be read as a stand alone, especially if one knows a bit about their Greek history. This book takes place in the time immediately after the fall of Troy to the Greeks and is told from mainly the female viewpoint. It is not often that women seem to be the centerpie Women of Troy by Pat Barker is an excellent historical fiction that is the follow up to the equally impressive book titled The Silence of the Girls. This was entertaining and I really enjoyed it. While it is a sequel, I feel it can still be read as a stand alone, especially if one knows a bit about their Greek history. This book takes place in the time immediately after the fall of Troy to the Greeks and is told from mainly the female viewpoint. It is not often that women seem to be the centerpiece, and it is enjoyable to be able to read stories that are well-known, been told for ages, with a different angle, thought process, and vision. The story is told mainly through Briseis, now married, with a few extra insights through different characters. I enjoyed the tale that was woven through her point of view. The author was impressive with her ability to tell a narrative that felt fresh, new, raw, human, and imperfect despite it being an overall story that has been told before. The choice of prose, the way the emotions and actions are described, really brings the spotlight to the women that were present and affected. One can really get a sense from this story how this is the end of one chapter, and the beginning of the next. I really enjoyed this story and I recommend this for anyone that loves Greek Mythology, historical fiction, the retelling of classics from a more modern/fresh perspective, especially from a female perspective. 5/5 stars Thank you EW and Doubleday/Random House for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 8/24/21.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Anyone who became immersed in Pat Barker’s ‘The Silence of the Girls’ is likely to enjoy her follow-on story, ‘The Women of Troy’, centring on Briseis, married to Alcimus and carrying the late Achilles’ child. Now in the aftermath of the Trojan War, Barker continues to give the reader a specifically female view of the times. Nonetheless, we are occasionally allowed the male perspective, most powerfully at the beginning of the novel as the Greek soldiers, crowded, tense and sweating inside the wo Anyone who became immersed in Pat Barker’s ‘The Silence of the Girls’ is likely to enjoy her follow-on story, ‘The Women of Troy’, centring on Briseis, married to Alcimus and carrying the late Achilles’ child. Now in the aftermath of the Trojan War, Barker continues to give the reader a specifically female view of the times. Nonetheless, we are occasionally allowed the male perspective, most powerfully at the beginning of the novel as the Greek soldiers, crowded, tense and sweating inside the wooden horse wait to see if the strange gift will be accepted: ‘It’s hot in here; the place reeks of resin from freshly cut pine logs – and something very odd has started to happen, because he tastes the resin and smells the heat. The insides of his nostrils feels scorched.’ As ever, Barker’s ability to describe people and places, thoughts and feelings, be they ever so far from contemporary life, bring these ancient characters vividly to life. Whether squashed in the bowels of the famous wooden horse, or on a windswept beach burying a corpse, or in a crowded tent giving birth, the author’s superb use of language ensures that the reader can imagine the atmosphere, the tensions, the fear of being caught by the enemy. Whilst Barker tells the story of the Trojan women as they wait on calmer seas so that they can be taken to Greece as part of the spoils of war, she doesn’t give the reader a simple ‘sisters united’ picture. Just because these women are connected by race, gender and experience does not mean that they all respond the same way to their plight and the story’s strength lies in the portrayal of these differences. Another engrossing adaptation of a very old tale. My thanks to NetGalley and Penguin General UK for a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Demelda Penkitty

    Troy has fallen. The Greeks have won their bitter war. They can return home victors, loaded with their spoils: their stolen gold, stolen weapons, stolen women. All they need is a good wind to lift their sails. But the wind does not come. The gods have been offended - the body of Priam lies desecrated, unburied - and so the victors remain in limbo, camped in the shadow of the city they destroyed, pacing at the edge of an unobliging sea. And, in these empty, restless days, the hierarchies that held Troy has fallen. The Greeks have won their bitter war. They can return home victors, loaded with their spoils: their stolen gold, stolen weapons, stolen women. All they need is a good wind to lift their sails. But the wind does not come. The gods have been offended - the body of Priam lies desecrated, unburied - and so the victors remain in limbo, camped in the shadow of the city they destroyed, pacing at the edge of an unobliging sea. And, in these empty, restless days, the hierarchies that held them together begin to fray, old feuds resurface and new suspicions fester. Largely unnoticed by her squabbling captors, Briseis remains in the Greek encampment. She forges alliances where she can - with young, dangerously naïve Amina, with defiant, aged Hecuba, with Calchus, the disgraced priest - and begins to see the path to a kind of revenge. Briseis has survived the Trojan War, but peacetime may turn out to be even more dangerous... Women of Troy is a sequel to The Silence of the Girls and picks up where it left off. Beginning in the Trojan horse with the soldiers crammed together wondering what their fate will be, what follows is Pat Barker's retelling of the Greek army stranded unable to return home with their spoils. Restlessness begins to take hold as the victors are trapped in the remains of the city they have destroyed. Told primarily in first person by Briseis but also in third person by Calchus and Pyrrhus. However, the narrative is firmly focused on the women in this male dominated time in history. This is a book about female suffering and endurance. These women were survivers, they were brutalised and raped, they saw husbands and children murdered, left traumatised, then enslaved and sent to Greece. And yet they survived. This is their story. Whilst I feel not quite as absorbing as The Silence Of The Girls this was still an engrossing and fresh retelling. I feel there may be a third installment yet to come. Thank you to NetGalley for the digital ARC.

  29. 4 out of 5

    mylogicisfuzzy

    I seem to have unintentionally picked a perfect week to read Pat Barker’s The Women of Troy, with changeable weather and downpours keeping us home mirroring the oppressive winds keeping the Greeks from sailing home in triumph after the sacking of Troy. Women of Troy is a quieter, more atmospheric and nuanced book than Silence of The Girls. The Greek camp, full of spoils of war - enslaved Trojan women and treasure, is restless, tense. Bored men with nowhere to go and nothing to do but drink the e I seem to have unintentionally picked a perfect week to read Pat Barker’s The Women of Troy, with changeable weather and downpours keeping us home mirroring the oppressive winds keeping the Greeks from sailing home in triumph after the sacking of Troy. Women of Troy is a quieter, more atmospheric and nuanced book than Silence of The Girls. The Greek camp, full of spoils of war - enslaved Trojan women and treasure, is restless, tense. Bored men with nowhere to go and nothing to do but drink the endless free flowing wine and pick quarrels. Among them is Pyrrhus (also known as Neoptolemus), who struggles with the enormous weight of being Achilles’ son and acts out at any perceived slight to his honour but Barker notably builds him into a more complex character. Briseis returns, now married, she visits and observes the other women, Hecuba, Andromache, Helen, Cassandra, offering help and support as far as she is able to. Most are cooped up in huts, traumatised and unable to grieve their lost husbands, fathers or sons – in a way, their silence and powerlessness are even more palpable in this book. I thought the book’s setting, this in-between time, worked really well to bring into focus the treatment of women and their individual responses to enslavement. I also liked some of the liberties Barker took with the source materials, such as the secret burial of Priam echoing Antigone and how she used this to explore her characters conflicting emotions and reactions. Overall, I actually preferred The Women of Troy to Silence of The Girls although I might now read the first book again. My thanks to Penguin UK and Netgalley for the opportunity to read The Women of Troy.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Marcy Thomas

    Thanks to netgalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I absolutely adored the Silence of the Girls. It was one of my favourite reads of the year, so to find out there was going to be a sequel had me excited and nervous. I usually don’t have a good record with sequels, as most of the time the story didn’t need to continue, or like with Call Me by Your Name’s sequel Find Me, it meanders to milk more money, but I was still optimistic. After the fall of Troy, Barker promised Thanks to netgalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I absolutely adored the Silence of the Girls. It was one of my favourite reads of the year, so to find out there was going to be a sequel had me excited and nervous. I usually don’t have a good record with sequels, as most of the time the story didn’t need to continue, or like with Call Me by Your Name’s sequel Find Me, it meanders to milk more money, but I was still optimistic. After the fall of Troy, Barker promised to paint a picture of what life was like for the women who had to survive after losing everything. But, sadly, it was a bit if a bland picture. There’s a reason no one really focuses on the aftermath of the fall of Troy, because what else can you say? This book drags. We still get Briseis’s perspective, but all she does is meander and have conversations with other people, but it doesn’t have much narrative “point”. It illustrates the hardships the women of Troy must face, focusing on their pain and struggles, but Silence of the Girls portrayed that better, and with a more engaging story. This novel feels like filler, one that didn’t need to exist or justify it being there. Also, for a book that is supposed to be focusing on the female perspective, Barker using the perspective of two men doesn’t really fit right. However, I can’t say I was bored reading it. Barker’s writing is engaging and draws you in, so I was still invested, but I wished the story was more focused or had a plot arc. I would still recommend it, as Barker proves herself talented, but I wouldn’t say it was a necessary read if you lived Silence of the Girls.

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