Book Review

THE SILENCE OF THE GIRLS by Pat Barker

Rating: 4 / 5

I added THE SILENCE OF THE GIRLS by Pat Barker to my TBR back when it was on the Women’s Prize for Fiction list in 2019. When it came up as my randomly generated TBR pick for March, I didn’t remember much about it, but was happy to find a copy readily available from my library.

THE SILENCE OF THE GIRLS is set in ancient Troy, a city which has been under siege by the Greeks for a long time over the theft of a woman, Helen. Our main character Briseis is an observer of the war, a woman taken by Achilles after her kingdom was pillaged and her husband and family killed. As plunder from the battle, she is now less than a person, living a very different life as a concubine and sadly she is far from alone in that. She is fought over by powerful Greeks and flared tempers over who she belongs to impact the course of the war itself.

Trigger warningsn for rape, assault.

Rewrites of ancient history and mythology has been a trend of late, especially with telling a story from the women’s perspective. Briseis is one of many women with everyone they know and love taken from them brutally, forced to live a life not of their choosing. Her story and that of those around her is at times difficult to read, but I felt like the content was handled with respect and it is something that was certainly part of the lives of women in her situation.

I really liked the character of Briseis and felt like she offered a good point of view on the men of the camp and the war they were waging. The harm that came to so many from bruised egos and power struggles among the heroes of the army was well portrayed.

This is one that I likely wouldn’t have picked up in the near future if not for this reading prompt, so I am very glad that I got the chance to move it up my TBR!

Reading Challenges:

#PopsugarReadingChallenge – a book from your TBR list chosen at random

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