The Silence of the Girls: A Novel (Paperback)
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September 2018 Indie Next List
“The women in Homer’s Iliad hardly ever speak; we are not privy to their thoughts, feelings, or anguish as expressed in their own words. Until now. The Silence of the Girls depicts moments of the Trojan War through the eyes of the female captives at the mercy of the men who have slaughtered their husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons, as they carve out new lives in the wake of war’s devastation. The focus of Barker’s novel is Briseis, through whose eyes we see, up close, the rift between Agamemnon and Achilles, the bond between Achilles and Patroclus, and the complex, beautiful support system the captured women weave together. Barker’s novel is a masterpiece of resilience, determination, fury, healing, and complicated, completely human characters.”
— Anna Eklund, University Book Store, Seattle, WA
A Washington Post Notable Book
One of the Best Books of the Year: NPR, The Economist, Financial Times
Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award
Finalist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction
Here is the story of the Iliad as we’ve never heard it before: in the words of Briseis, Trojan queen and captive of Achilles. Given only a few words in Homer’s epic and largely erased by history, she is nonetheless a pivotal figure in the Trojan War. In these pages she comes fully to life: wry, watchful, forging connections among her fellow female prisoners even as she is caught between Greece’s two most powerful warriors. Her story pulls back the veil on the thousands of women who lived behind the scenes of the Greek army camp—concubines, nurses, prostitutes, the women who lay out the dead—as gods and mortals spar, and as a legendary war hurtles toward its inevitable conclusion. Brilliantly written, filled with moments of terror and beauty, The Silence of the Girls gives voice to an extraordinary woman—and makes an ancient story new again.
About the Author
Pat Barker is the author of Union Street, Blow Your House Down, Liza’s England, The Man Who Wasn't There, the Regeneration trilogy (Regeneration, The Eye in the Door, and The Ghost Road, which won the Booker Prize), Another World, Border Crossing, Double Vision, and the Life Class trilogy (Life Class, Toby's Room, and Noonday). She lives in Durham, England.
“Eloquent. . . . Speaks to our times while describing those long gone.” —The Washington Post
“Almost Homeric in its brilliance. . . . Masterful and moving.” —The Economist
“Beautiful. . . . It is as if Barker had found an artifact with an as yet undeciphered alphabet among the glittering grave treasures of Homer's epic.” —The New York Review of Books
“[A] fiercely feminist retelling of the Iliad. . . . [Barker] sings the rage of Briseis, captive queen.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
“The Silence of the Girls is brilliant—fascinating, riveting and blood chilling in its matter-of-fact attitude toward war and those who are its spoils. . . . Wonderful.” —Diana Gabaldon
“Beautifully done.” —NPR
“Brilliant. . . . This is an important, powerful, memorable book that invites us to look differently not only at The Iliad but at our own ways of telling stories about the past and the present.” —The Guardian
“Barker’s powerful feminist revision of Homer’s Iliad creates a central narrative voice for Briseis. . . . Through her we see the devastating effects of this very male war on the captured women.” —Financial Times
“This book is primo Barker. . . . Powerful. . . . Fascinating. . . . Evocative.” —The Washington Times
“Gives a voice to the voiceless. . . . The Silence of the Girls is a book that will be read in generations to come.” —The Daily Telegraph (London)
“Magnificent. . . . You are in the hands of a writer at the height of her powers.” —The Evening Standard
“This vibrant retelling of the Trojan War by a woman on the side of the defeated is long overdue. . . . It’s an absolute pleasure to read for any devoted fan of the Iliad, but equally accessible to those new to the Trojan story; indeed, The Silence of the Girls might make the perfect entry.” —Shelf Awareness (starred review)
“A compelling take on the events of The Iliad. . . . Briseis is flawlessly drawn. . . . Barker makes it all convincing and very powerful. Recommended on the highest order.” —Booklist (starred review)
“A must read. . . . Both lyrical and brutal, Barker's novel is not to savor delicately but rather to be devoured in great bloody gulps.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“A suspenseful and moving illumination of women’s fates in wartime. . . . Barker’s hands, the conflict takes on a new dimension.” —Publishers Weekly