The Silence of The Girls by Pat Barker

June 20, 2018

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."

The Silence of the Girls is the tale of the Trojan War through a prize of Achilles, Briseis, a queen of one of Troy's neighboring kingdoms. From queen to concubine, Briseis shows us a side of the Trojan War we've not been privy to in the past. One full of shocking visuals of foul living quarters and way of life among the Greeks.

Barker's writing is straightforward, no sugar-coating (not lyrical in any moment) which we can assume rightly portrays the unspeakable foulness of life during war, because of how detestable and vivid her descriptions are. I do believe such rawness is absolutely necessary for stories such as this. The Silence of the Girls reads kin to a memoir of a victim, prisoner, and survivor of a terrible war raging externally and internally for our Briseis. Her delivery is brash and raw without decoration. She paints a grotesque image of (mis)worshipped Achilles while sharing the brutality forced upon the women of war.

The main hitch (for me) was how modern the dialogue was. I'm not an expert of Ancient Greece or how they spoke, but in my own mind, it isn't modern British slang. (bloody hell, bugger off, sod that, mummy, cheers, bugger, etc) Each time it tore me out of the story, but it's probably just a personal preference! 

The Silence of the Girls is out in September, so if you like retellings or Greek mythology, put it on your TBR or preorder it ASAP!

Thank you Doubleday for the beautiful ARC! (Isn't that cover genius?)

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