The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
There was a woman at the heart of the Trojan war whose voice has been silent – till now.
When her city falls to the Greeks, led to victory by the god-like warrior Achilles, Briseis’s old life is shattered. Abducted and shipped to the Greek camp on the battleground at Troy, she goes from queen to captive, from free woman to slave, awarded to Achilles as a prize of honour. She’s not alone. On the same day, and on many others in the course of a long, bitter war, innumerable women have been wrested from their homes and flung to the fighters.
As told in The Iliad, the Trojan War was a quarrel between men – over Helen, stolen from her home and spirited to Troy, a voiceless female icon of male desire. But what of the women in this story, silenced by their fates? What words did they speak when alone with each other, in the laundry, at the loom, when laying out the dead?
In this magnificent novel of the Trojan War, Pat Barker summons the voices of Briseis and her fellow women to tell this mythic story anew, foregrounding their experiences against the backdrop of savage battle between men. One of the great contemporary writers on war and its collateral damage, Pat Barker here reimagines the most famous of all wars in literature, charting one woman’s journey through the chaos of the Greek encampment, as she struggles to free herself and to become the author of her own story.