The silence of the girls : a novel / Pat Barker.

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  • Additional Information
    • Edition:
      First United States edition.
    • Abstract:
      Summary: "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"-- Provided by publisher.
    • Abstract:
      Summary: "The Iliad, as experienced by the captured women living in the Greek camp in the final weeks of the Trojan War"-- Provided by publisher.
    • Abstract:
      Summary: 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. -- adapted from publisher info
    • ISBN:
      9780385544214
      0385544219
    • LCCN:
      2018014387
    • OCLC:
      on1019649523
      1019649523
    • Accession Number:
      fay.579721

Reviews

Booklist Reviews 2018 July #1

*Starred Review* Queen Briseis and the women of Lyrnessus watch helplessly from the citadel as Achilles destroys the city, slaughtering their husbands, fathers, sons. When Briseis is made Achilles' slave as a prize of war, the one comfort in this horrifying new existence is Patroclus, Achilles' comrade and friend. When Agamemnon attempts to claim Briseis as his own, it changes the tide of the Trojan War. In graceful prose, Man Booker Prize winner Barker (Noonday, 2016), renowned for her historical fiction trilogies, offers a compelling take on the events of The Iliad, allowing Briseis a first-person perspective, while players such as Patroclus and Achilles are examined in illuminating third-person narration. Briseis is flawlessly drawn as Barker wisely avoids the pitfall so many authors stumble into headlong, namely, giving her an anachronistic modern feminist viewpoint. Instead, the terror of her experience of being treated as an object rather than a person speaks (shouts) for itself. Patroclus tells her things will change, and if they don't, to make them, to which Briseis, utterly powerless, replies, "Spoken like a man." The army camp, the warrior mindset, the horrors of battle, the silence of the girls—Barker makes it all convincing and very powerful. Recommended on the highest order. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

LJ Reviews 2018 April #2

Booker Prize-winning Barker, who set her celebrated "Regeneration" trilogy during World War I, here reaches back in time to the Trojan War, when women served mainly as slaves or prostitutes or laid out the dead. At the heart of the narrative is not the battle between Greeks and Trojans but between Achilles and Agamemnon over Briseis, once queen of a kingdom neighboring Troy and now Achilles's concubine after he murdered her husband and brothers.

Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

LJ Reviews 2018 September #1

Following the fall of her city to the Greek army, Briseis, former queen of Lyrnessus, sister city of Troy, is awarded to Achilles as his captive and concubine. She tells her story of slavery, rape, and survival as an insider witnessing the strategies of Achilles and his closest companion Petroclus. Achilles comes to value Briseis to the point of refusing to go to battle when Agamemnon demands her services. The Greek army, demoralized by the loss of their greatest warrior, begins to lose ground to the Trojan forces until Petroclus dons Achilles's armor, fighting and dying in his place. Grief-stricken, Achilles reenters the fray and Troy is conquered. Barker gives the ancient tale of the ten-year-long siege and inevitable fall of Troy new life by presenting the women's point of view, showing women as the most vulnerable, and in many ways, most courageous victims of war. Readers will come away from this brilliant, beautifully written novel convinced that the so-called glorious death in battle is less important than the strength and determination required to survive against all odds. VERDICT Both lyrical and brutal, Barker's novel is not to savor delicately but rather to be devoured in great bloody gulps. A must read! [See Prepub Alert, 3/26/18; "Editors' Fall Picks," LJ 8/18.]—Jane Henriksen Baird, formerly at Anchorage P.L., AK

Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

PW Reviews 2018 July #2

Barker, author of the Booker-winning The Ghost Road, speculates about the fate of the women taken captive during the Trojan War, as related in Homer's Iliad. Briseis, queen of the small country of Lyrnessus, was captured by the Greek forces and awarded to Achilles, fated to serve him as slave and concubine. Through her eyes readers see the horror of war: the sea of blood and corpses, the looting, and the drunken aftermath of battle. When Agamemnon demands that Briseis be handed over to him, Achilles reacts with rage and refuses to fight, and when his foster brother and lover Patrocles is killed, having gone into battle in Achilles's stead, Briseis becomes the unwitting catalyst of a turning point in the war. In Barker's hands, the conflict takes on a new dimension, with revisionist portraits of Achilles ("we called him the butcher") and Patroclus (he had "taken his mother's place" in Achilles's heart). Despite its strong narrative line and transportive scenes of ancient life, however, this novel lacks the lyrical cadences and magical intensity of Madeline Miller's Circe, another recent revising of Greek mythology. The use of British contemporary slang in the dialogue is jarring, and detracts from the story's intensity. Yet this remains a suspenseful and moving illumination of women's fates in wartime. (Sept.)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.