The Silence of the Girls- Pat Barker

(Credit: Amazon)

Barkers‘ work is often described as blunt, direct and plainspoken, with ‘Silence of the girls’ as no exception. It follows the harrowing tale of Queen Briseis who is ripped from her life and housed in a Greek camp outside of Troy. Barker takes the traditional Iliad tale and flips its narration, outlining the events from the perspectives of captured women like Briseis. Achilles is still a central character, seen as a Hero by his men but a ‘butcher’ to the women. Though he is not without his own development, Achilles is narrated primarily through his concubine’s eyes.

Throughout the novel she adds depth to the warrior, portraying him as inherently damaged and not just a one-dimensional figurehead for the Trojan war. Barkers‘ tale is as relevant today as the time it was set since the battle for women’s rights is still being fought on the front lines. Its themes and messaging enforce the idea of a female voice in completely hostile environments, something I am sure most women can relate to. This is not an easy read but its ancient Greek setting makes it at least enjoyable.

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