Troy has fallen. The Greeks have won their bitter war. They can return home as victors – all they need is a good wind to lift their sails. But the wind has vanished, the seas becalmed by vengeful gods, and so the warriors remain in limbo – camped in the shadow of the city they destroyed, kept company by the women they stole from it.
The women of Troy.
Helen – poor Helen. All that beauty, all that grace – and she was just a mouldy old bone for feral dogs to fight over.
Cassandra, who has learned not to be too attached to her own prophecies. They have only ever been believed when she can get a man to deliver them.
Stubborn Amina, with her gaze still fixed on the ruined towers of Troy, determined to avenge the slaughter of her king.
Hecuba, howling and clawing her cheeks on the silent shore, as if she could make her cries heard in the gloomy halls of Hades. As if she could wake the dead.
And Briseis, carrying her future in her womb: the unborn child of the dead hero Achilles. Once again caught up in the disputes of violent men. Once again faced with the chance to shape history.
Masterful and enduringly resonant, ambitious and intimate, The Women of Troy continues Pat Barker’s extraordinary retelling of one of our greatest classical myths, following on from the critically acclaimed The Silence of the Girls.
The Women of Troy continues from Pat Barker’s Silence of the Girls. Barker completely catapulted me back into the centre of my love for Greek mythology. Yes, it’s brutal, yes the ill-treatment and exploitation of women is difficult to read but it is stone-cold accurate and the rigorous research is discernable from the very first page. The book ticks all the boxes with its kaleidoscopic complexity. It’s an audacious and feminist retelling of The Iliad, told from the fallen women of Troy. It’s powerful and influential. So what exactly reeled me in?
A locked room full of human emotion.
Age-old sexism and the fight to have their voices heard.
Angering of the gods.
Strong female characters.
The Women of Troy tells the story of what happens after the horse breaches Troy and is sacked leaving destruction and ruin in their wake. The Trojan war is over and the women lose fathers, brothers, uncles, and sons. They take their spoils, with the main protagonist Breisis being married off to Alcimus after the passing of Achillies. His son Pyrrhus, is a bit of a man baby that often takes his frustrations and the weight of his father’s legacy out on other people, namely the women. The Greek soldiers look forward to setting sail for home, with all the spoils of war. Treasure, riches, the women, and their newfound legacy. There is just one problem – they have angered the gods with the rape carried out in their temples and the desecration of their statues. Gale force winds stop them from moving until they rectify the situation.
There isn’t as much action in this book but the explosive and obsessive narrative had me reading just one more chapter. It’s beautiful and captivating and had me instantly searching for more historical fiction set in ancient Greece.
The Women of Troy are the driving force behind the story. Their battle for survival, their principles, and their need to protect and nurture are never far away from the crux of the plot. Bresis, navigating a new marriage and a pregnancy that gives her hope for the future. Hecuba, widowed with the death of Priam, is aging by the day, never getting over the death of her children with only Cassandra surviving. It is predominately a character-driven story, the women of Troy being the real face of war. The blood, the anguish, and the grief playing the starring role. They depict the ravages of war and pillage upon their bodies, their families, and their friendships. It is a viewpoint that paints the Greeks as anti-heroes. It isn’t about the battlefield heroics that are so often read about in history books.
This novel is so patently heartfelt, a necessary read for everyone. Important with imagery that leaves you in the centre of the storm, you feel anguish. Just please go and read this now…it’s that good.