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The Silence of the Girls (2018)

by Pat Barker

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,2907710,977 (3.99)1 / 243
"From the Booker Prize-winning author of the Regeneration trilogy comes a monumental new masterpiece, set in the midst of literature's most famous war. Pat Barker turns her attention to the timeless legend of The Iliad, as experienced by the captured women living in the Greek camp in the final weeks of the Trojan War. The ancient city of Troy has withstood a decade under siege of the powerful Greek army, who continue to wage bloody war over a stolen woman--Helen. In the Greek camp, another woman watches and waits for the war's outcome: Briseis. 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 must adjust quickly in order to survive a radically different life, as one of the many conquered women who serve the Greek army. When Agamemnon, the brutal political leader of the Greek forces, demands Briseis for himself, she finds herself caught between the two most powerful of the Greeks. Achilles refuses to fight in protest, and the Greeks begin to lose ground to their Trojan opponents. Keenly observant and cooly unflinching about the daily horrors of war, Briseis finds herself in an unprecedented position to observe the two men driving the Greek forces in what will become their final confrontation, deciding the fate, not only of Briseis's people, but also of the ancient world at large. Briseis is just one among thousands of women living behind the scenes in this war--the slaves and prostitutes, the nurses, the women who lay out the dead--all of them erased by history. With breathtaking historical detail and luminous prose, Pat Barker brings the teeming world of the Greek camp to vivid life. She offers nuanced, complex portraits of characters and stories familiar from mythology, which, seen from Briseis's perspective, are rife with newfound revelations. Barker's latest builds on her decades-long study of war and its impact on individual lives--and it is nothing short of magnificent"--"The Iliad, as experienced by the captured women living in the Greek camp in the final weeks of the Trojan War"--… (more)
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» See also 243 mentions

English (76)  Dutch (1)  All languages (77)
Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
Hypnotic, poetic, brutal, tender... deserving of all the praise. I'd given this a wide berth as I didn't think I was interested enough in the ancient world, but I'm glad I was nudged to give this a go. My first Pat Barker, too - so there's plenty more to explore. ( )
  alexrichman | Jun 8, 2021 |
Trojan women
  18cran | Apr 25, 2021 |
I didn't now the story of the battle of Troy, and it showed the brutality I'd imagined in Greek writings as the society was so male dominated. Telling the story from a woman's viewpoint was good. Overall it didn't really grab me. ( )
  SteveMcI | Apr 4, 2021 |
the trojan war, from the trojan women's point of view. this was, at points, a harrowing read. but it was so well written that it kept me reading. i also noted that the book being told from a woman's point of view, she actually did not have that many dialogue. ( )
  riida | Mar 5, 2021 |
A fictionalization of a mythological story, the story behind the Trojan war. This time, though, it is told from the point of view of the women, specifically one woman who has to watch Achilles kill her husband and her brothers, and then becomes his slave, required to spend her nights in his bed. It is a different angle, but one that is not strange to those of us who often think about the women that just sort of get a mention in the stories. The details are well drawn out, in depth, and you can almost feel the dirty, hot camp where the Greeks have spent the past nine years. The men in the story are more realistic than the classic hero story, ranging from buffoons to highly skilled soldiers, monsters to men with the spark of human kindness who can inspire real devotion. The women are less drawn out, but this appears to be a feature; the feeling of them being subsumed into this faceless mass of slaves that the men use as they wish and discard is brought into sharper relief by the presence of only a few women that are "in color", so to speak. ( )
  Devil_llama | Jan 11, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barker, Patprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Arribas, Carlos JiménezTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Atherton, KristinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bosch, EefjeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bury, LaurentTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
翁海贞Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fox, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ganho, TâniaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Κανελλοπού… ΔέσποιναTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jiménez Arribas, CarlosTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johansson, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karsch, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Novotná, KateřinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Odeh, AlaaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palmieri, CarlaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
فرزام حبیبی‌ا, صفهانیTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Прокуров, Р.Н.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
“You know how European literature begins?” he’d ask, after taking the roll at the first class meeting. “With a quarrel. All of European literature springs from a fight.” And then he picked up his copy of The Iliad and read to the class the opening lines. “ ‘Divine Muse, sing of the ruinous wrath of Achilles…Begin where they first quarrelled, Agamemnon, the King of men, and great Achilles.’ And what are they quarrelling about, these two violent, mighty souls? It’s as basic as a barroom brawl. They are quarrelling over a woman. A girl, really. A girl stolen from her father. A girl abducted in a war.”

—The Human Stain, Philip Roth”
Dedication
For my children, John and Anna; and, as always,

in loving memory of David
First words
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.”
Quotations
It was astonishing the way really quite intelligent women seemed to believe that if they carried their eyeliner beyond the outer corner of the lid and gave it a little upward flick, they'd have Helen's eyes. Or if they fastened their cinctures the same way she did hers, they'd have Helen's breasts. All this mindless imitation of a woman they affected to despise...No wonder she laughed at them.
Poor Mynes. His idea of female beauty was a woman so fat if you slapped her backside in the morning she'd still be jiggling when you got back home for dinner.
Yes, the death of young men in battle is a tragedy - I’d lost four brothers, I didn’t need anybody to tell me that. A tragedy worthy of any number of laments - but theirs is not the worst fate. I looked at Andromache, who’d have to live the rest of her amputated life as a slave, and I thought: We need a new song.
I thought: And I do what countless women before me have been forced to do. I spread my legs for the man who killed my husband and my brother
The defeated go down in history and disappear, and their stories die with them
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"From the Booker Prize-winning author of the Regeneration trilogy comes a monumental new masterpiece, set in the midst of literature's most famous war. Pat Barker turns her attention to the timeless legend of The Iliad, as experienced by the captured women living in the Greek camp in the final weeks of the Trojan War. The ancient city of Troy has withstood a decade under siege of the powerful Greek army, who continue to wage bloody war over a stolen woman--Helen. In the Greek camp, another woman watches and waits for the war's outcome: Briseis. 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 must adjust quickly in order to survive a radically different life, as one of the many conquered women who serve the Greek army. When Agamemnon, the brutal political leader of the Greek forces, demands Briseis for himself, she finds herself caught between the two most powerful of the Greeks. Achilles refuses to fight in protest, and the Greeks begin to lose ground to their Trojan opponents. Keenly observant and cooly unflinching about the daily horrors of war, Briseis finds herself in an unprecedented position to observe the two men driving the Greek forces in what will become their final confrontation, deciding the fate, not only of Briseis's people, but also of the ancient world at large. Briseis is just one among thousands of women living behind the scenes in this war--the slaves and prostitutes, the nurses, the women who lay out the dead--all of them erased by history. With breathtaking historical detail and luminous prose, Pat Barker brings the teeming world of the Greek camp to vivid life. She offers nuanced, complex portraits of characters and stories familiar from mythology, which, seen from Briseis's perspective, are rife with newfound revelations. Barker's latest builds on her decades-long study of war and its impact on individual lives--and it is nothing short of magnificent"--"The Iliad, as experienced by the captured women living in the Greek camp in the final weeks of the Trojan War"--

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