The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker⁠⁠ ⁠⁠- Book Review


Greek Mythology – Retelling

The Plot

⁠Briseis was the queen of one of Troy’s neighbouring kingdoms. When Achilles sacks her city, she becomes his concubine, at least until Agamemnon, leader of the Greek forces, demands her for himself. Achilles, offended by this gesture, refuses to fight, and the Greeks begin to lose ground. While men argue and fight, women are left behind the scenes in a war that made them slaves, prostitutes, nurses… all of them (or mostly all of them) erased by history.⁠

❤️ What I liked about The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

👩 Briseis. She was a queen, and now she is a slave, a concubine. She can’t fight men physically, so she finds her power in observing the camp, giving a voice to the slaves, the concubines, the women that lay the dead. She finds her purpose in storytelling: “Silence becomes a woman”.⁠

👨 The complexity of the characters. Women are the main characters and are all well described and analyzed. But not just them: I loved how complex the male characters are. Achilles is not just a headstrong warrior: he is a child that grew up without a mother. Patroclus is “one of the dears” he wants to emulate Achilles, be a mighty warrior, but he takes good care of the women as well. ⁠⁠

⚔️ The guilt. “This man killed your brothers, he killed your husband, he burned your city, he destroyed every single thing you’d ever loved – and you were prepared to marry him?”. Briseis and the women have to find a compromise between grief and survival. And that’s not an easy task!⁠

To the score

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4/5 I love Greek retellings, and Briseis has always been one of my favourite characters. So I enjoyed this book very much. Even though Ariadne is still the number 1 for me. ⁠

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