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Review | The Silence Of The Girls

By Pat Barker

Published : 2nd May 2019

Publisher : Penguin Random House

Format : Kindle, Audio, Hardback, Paperback

Genre : Greek Mythology

Review 41/2021

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* All words highlighted in Grey are affiliate links to either purchase from a range of sellers or links to the authors sites. Where ever possible I will try and provide different versions of the book on all purchase sites.


When the Greek Queen Helen is kidnapped by Trojans, the Greek sail in pursuit, besieging the city of Troy.

Trapped in the soldiers camp is another queen, Briseis.

Condemned to be a bed slave to Achilles, the man who butchered her family, she becomes a pawn in the menacing game between bored and frustrated warriors.

In the centuries after this most famous war, history will write her off, a footnote in a bloody story scripted by vengeful men - but Briseis has a very different story to tell...

My Review

And I do what countless of women before me have been forced to do. I spread my legs for the man who killed my husband and my brothers.

Briseis, Bed slave to Achilles.

The story opens with the city of Troy being besieged by the Greek soldiers.

Women and children are all huddling together at the top of a building, listening to the war getting closer by the war cry of the great Achilles.

The men and boys are all in the streets waiting to fight. The women, knowing that their fathers, brothers and sons, even unborn, will be slaughtered. All because they want Helen back.

Told from three perspectives: Briseis, a Queen in Troy but now a bed slave to Achilles.

Achilles, the great warrior with a tortured soul and Patroclus, Achilles best friend and brother.

King Agamemnon is the leader of all the Greeks, he sees Briseis beauty and wants her to be his, but she is Achilles awarded prize, when she is taken Achilles, the best fighter for the Greeks, refuses to return to battle. As a result, the Greeks quickly lose ground in their siege on Troy. Forcing Patroclus to fight in his place.

Briseis has to learn to live under Agamemnon whilst waiting to be given back to Achilles.

The women have no freedom, they live in a camp at the mercy of Greek soldiers and Briseis soon realises she is an unwitting pawn between menacing and stubborn warrior.

Why I Loved It

This retelling of the Trojan War is, quite frankly, stunning.

Whilst other classically told myths tell about the glory and conquests of the men, this focuses on the quiet and unassuming presence of the women, Forgotten for being just female and wholly underestimated.

This story is beautifully written from the voice of Briseis, we are given a hauntingly honest perspective that is so often overshadowed by the men of these Myths.

This is a huge five star read for me. I loved the characters, was shocked by how they had to live and found myself imaging myself on the camp, in the squalor of the huts, purely because of the authors amazing detailed description.

If you love Greek Mythology, then this story is a must.




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Meet the author

Pat Barker was born in Yorkshire and began her literary career in her forties, when she took a short writing course taught by Angela Carter.

Encouraged by Carter to continue writing, she sent her fiction out. She has now published sixteen novels, including her masterful Regeneration Trilogy, been made a CBE for services to literature, and won the UK's highest literary honour, the Booker Prize.

Her last novel, The Silence of the Girls, began the story of Briseis, the forgotten woman at the heart of one of the most famous war epics ever told. It was shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction, the Costa Novel Award and the Gordon Burn Prize, and won an Independent Bookshop Award 2019. The Women of Troy continues that story. Pat Barker lives in Durham.


Books by this author

The Women Of Troy

The Regeneration Trilogy

I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on this review, if you have read this book why not drop me a line telling me your thoughts?


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