Cover Image: The Women of Troy

The Women of Troy

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Picking up from where The Silence of the Girls left off, Barker's style once again lifts a classic narrative and flips it on its head with both the coarseness of its reality and the sensitivity of highlighting womens' voices.

In this rendition, moving away from the Iliad and continuing the story of what happened on the shores of Troy before the beginning of Odysseus' long and convoluted journey home, Barker focuses in on Pyrrhus' character as the new head of the Myrmidons while maintaining Briseis as the central voice for women. While war still plays a heavy part in the overall narrative, this tale feels as though it has a greater focus on the domestic camp setting; the age divide between men and boys; and the fall from royalty to slave - all themes present previously but not given the detailed treatment as within The Women of Troy. Thus, there is a shift in tone which I found particularly gripping.

Much like the theming, the story focuses on three main situations: Pyrrhus' murder of Priam in Troy and its consequences; Briseis' care of the young slave girls as a model for her own future child; and the royal females of Troy, particularly Cassandra, prophet of her own doom, and Hecuba who, as always, is a wonderful character. Briseis remains as principled as before and does her best to do right by the young girls in the camp. Her interactions with all the other women paint the breadth of struggle for the slave women and her own social divide from this as mother to a Greek. However, Cassandra's portrayal was different to anything I have previously come across; she is a lot less accepting of her fate and has a great petulant streak in Barker's writing making her an unreliable but exciting character. Likewise, the writing of Pyrrhus and Calchas was enchanting, and their scenes were some of the most interesting if unsettling.

For those less acquainted with the stories beyond Achilles and Patroclus, I think this story will feel refreshingly new. For those more readily aware of the Greek canon, I see this as a perfect gateway to these characters through a truly fierce narrative.
Was this review helpful?
The Women of Troy by Pat Barker.

I started this book and quickly realised I hadn't a clue what was going on. So I read the prequel The Silence of The Girls, which I loved.

The Women of Troy is a different book with no big battles and no Achilles. The war is over and the Greeks are stranded until the wind dies down. All the Trojan males are dead and Priam still has not got his burial. 
Things are very unsettled as the men are drinking too much, tensions are rising and the kings are looking for someone to blame for the weather..

This book is more claustrophobic as it mainly takes place in the womens huts. The Trojan women have seen their husbands and sons killed and now they are slaves to the Greeks. Briseis, despite being a married women, seems to have taken on a role of protecting these women and this is very much her and all the other women's story. 

This is a great follow on from The Silence of the Girls, while not as engrossing, it is still a wonderful read.
Was this review helpful?
I’m sorry to be heaping hate on Barkerbut this book felt so unnecessary. The Women of Troy isn’t really about the women of Troy, but about Briseis’ life now that she’s freed through marriage.

I do feel as if a book centered on ‘women’ should be voiced by them. Instead, it kicks off with a male narrator. And returns to make narrators throughout. If the novel didn’t claim to give voice to women, then I’d be able to rate it so much higher. But it certainly fails in that respect.

If you thought Briseis was dull in book one then prepare to find her even duller. She has no personality. She wants the newly enslaved women to see her as one of them, but hates being a slave. She rejects her place of power through her husband but wants to have her power back. She loves other children but already feels no love for her own child.

And the plot? Well. It seemed to just rehash the end of Silence of the Girls; simply adding a little more detail and stretching it out. It lacked a key plot point to give the story momentum. It’s a slow, stagnant story about a group of people trapped after war.

What I wanted to see was Briseis attempting to stand up for and protect the other slaves, to attempt to make change. I wanted to see her as a mother, to find her strength and use her husband's power to her advantage. Instead, like Hamlet, she spent the novel fretting and wishing people liked her.

Worst of all, was the way Briseis treated other women. A larger-sized lady was locked repeatedly, called ‘lumpy’ and ‘ugly’. Briseis wondered why she’d been chosen as a slave due to her size. This disgusting treatment of someone who is not conventionally beautiful made me hate the book even more. Briseis is supposed to be different, she’s supposed to be the one giving women a voice and she uses it to shame others.

Once again Barker missed the mark here. Other books do this better and I’m not sure why people seem to think this is such an amazing representation. Fat shaming is never okay and it’s a repeated theme throughout. One that has no need to be included and had no bearing on the plot. For that reason alone, I would not recommend this book.
Was this review helpful?
Following on from the events of The Silence Of The Girls, we are plunged into the aftermath of the Trojan War and into the Greek encampments as they wait for the wind to change so that they can sail. It was good to be back with Briseis and see how she is faring; compared to many other women, she is doing very well, with a kind if distant Greek husband and the reassurance that comes with carrying Achilles' child. The majority of The Women Of Troy is spent with her, and those scenes are, for the most part, the best in the novel. 

But The Women Of Troy ends up a three star read for me because there just wasn't enough of anything. The Greeks are trapped in their camps waiting for something, and we spend the entire novel in that sense of suspense. But when the story comes to the conclusion - or at least the end of this chapter in Briseis' life, it just felt underwhelming in comparison to many other Barker conclusions. Pat Barker is capable of moving readers with her handling of the most simple seeming, profoundly human moments - but it just felt like that depth was missing this time.
Was this review helpful?
I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Penguin General UK - Fig Tree, Hamish Hamilton, Viking, Penguin Life, Penguin Business, Hamish Hamilton, and the author Pat Barker. 
I was thrilled to receive this copy of 'The Women of Troy', after thoroughly enjoying the prequel 'The Silence of the Girls'. This novel was no different, incredibly engaging and telling the story of the fall of troy (and the aftermath) through the eyes of the women involved (although there was some chapters from the male point of view). I would highly recommend both books to anyone interested in mythology, and the story of Troy. 4 stars.
Was this review helpful?
Pat Barker picks up the story after the fall of Troy. King Priam's body is left unburied in the Grrek camps while the women of his court are taken as spoils of war by the Greeks. The story is primarily narrated by Briseis but Barker retells the story of other woman from Priam's family who are now slaves of the Greeks: Andromache wife of Hector, Cassandra one of Priam's daughters and Hecuba Priam's wife and of course Helen who caused the war. 

The Greeks are ready to leave with their spoils but there is a strong wind which means they can't sail. What are the forces behind the auspicious weather conditions? Why are the Gods angered by the actions of the Greeks? 

While we unpick these questions, tempers are heightening in the camps over their inability to leave, leading to men drinking, partying and rioting. We then get a true reflection of life for the women captured as spoils of war in this environment. These women who have lost their husbands, brothers, sons and are now in bed with the Greeks or scrambling for scraps to feed their children or being shared amongst groups of men. Briseis is supporting the women who have recently been taken in the ways she knows from her own personal and practical experience and trying to build alliances and hold them together. 

Briseis is now pregnant with Achilles child and conflicted by her pregnancy. Achilles  had killed her husband, brothers and burned her cities down but this pregnancy is her salvation raising her status from slave to married to Alchimus. We also get some parts of Pyrrhus's perspective as son of the great Achilles and living in the shadow of his father. 

This book though is primarily a story of the women, the horrors of war they have witnessed, the trauma they endure but their resilience and desires to survive and take a stand against the Greeks who are intent on erasing the Trojan people. 

Personally I think that Barker has left this wide open for a third book and making this a trilogy as there is plenty more we could learn about what happens Briseis next and I'd love for her to continue this story. 

The Women of Troy is published August 24th. I was so grateful to have been given a chance to read an advanced copy of the book curtesy of the publisher @penguinbooks via @netgalley
Was this review helpful?
Unfortunately I don’t think this book was for me. I found it quite slow and gave up at around 30%. I tried the audiobook as well but just didn’t gel. Sorry
Was this review helpful?
Following on from The Silence of the Girls, Briseis a captured queen, continues to narrate the story.  Following the fall of Troy all the men and male children have been killed and the women enslaved.  Briseis had been the trophy of Achilles and is carrying his baby but is now married to Alcimus which gives her a measure of safety.  The Greeks are imprisoned on the shore and unable to leave Troy because of an onshore gale which blows on and on week after week.  There are dangerous tensions between the Greek kings, and many of the Trojan women harbour hatred of the Greeks for killing their husbands and sons and would like revenge.Not least would they like to see Priam, their murdered king properly buried.
Pat Barker is a great story teller and this re-telling of the aftermath of the fall of Troy is a masterpiece.
Was this review helpful?
Was very happy to receive my arc copy from Netgalley. This is an interesting retelling of a well known classic. Giving a voice to the women that are often ignored in such works. A thoroughly enjoyable read and very fitting for the present time.
Was this review helpful?
3.5***

After reading book 1 of the Trojan War through the eyes of Briseis, I was excited to see that Pat Barker was also writing a sequel.

Despite the war being over and the fall of Troy, the Greek armies are still based at Troy and cannot yet leave. This book picks up after the events of book 1; Briseis is now married to Alcimus, pregnant with Achilles child and a free-woman.

This book included three POV’s: Briseis; Pyrrhus (Neoptolemus); and, Calchas (the prophet). I’m Briseis POV we get to see her struggle with her now “freed” status, especially as all of her friends and girls she knows are slaves to the Greek armies. Through Phyrrus, despite really wanting to hate him for his actions, we also get to see how a young man is struggling and trying to live up to the Legend that was his father, and constantly living in his shadow. Through Calchas we get to see through the eyes of the prophet, an outsider among the Greeks as he was originally from Troy dealing with bullying and falling out of favour from Agamemnon. 

This book also featured the captured Trojan women, soecifically the royal family; Hecuba, Andromache, Cassandra and Helen. How they’re treated by the Greek men and feeling the loss of their kingdom. I always feel so sorry for Andromache especially as she is repeatedly raped by the man who murdered her son, as his “prize”. Barker also examines the relationship between these royal women- not at all loving, particularly. 

I enjoyed how the author continued Briseis’ kinship with getting to know the Trojan slaves, not just the ones from the royal family, how a sisterhood develops between all of the captives. 

I also enjoyed the references/mirroring of Greek tragedy; one girls story mirrors that of “Antigone” by Sophocles. Also the author alludes to the events mentioned in the Odyssey, where Helen wants some herbs to make Menelaus “forget”.

The issue I had with this book is that it wasn’t captivating enough for me- I wasn’t drawn to this book/the events in this book as much as I was in Book 1. This is reflected in the rating- while not a bad book it isn’t memorable or had as much of an impact on me. 

Thank you to NetGalley for this E-Arc. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
By the end, I really loved this. 

Initially, I struggled because it seems that all books about Troy read like they have been translated from the Greek. They all feel the same, sound the same, have that hollowed out, written by men about men taste. 

I guess authors feel they have to be faithful to the originals but it's a very dry style. It's a translated by clever people who use the full range of their vocabulary to do so style.

I wish an ordinary person would do it once in the while. There's never any slang. 

Anyway, either I stopped noticing or she stopped doing it eventually and I began to care about the characters. I was sad when it ended. I could have done with more. 

Worth a read.
Was this review helpful?
The Women of Troy picks up from where The Silence of Girls ends and I was excited to dive back into this story told mostly from Briseis' perspective who is now balancing her new role of being the wife of Alcimus whilst carrying the child of Achilles. 

This book is about the aftermath of the war and something I haven't come across in my recent devouring of Greek Mythology retellings. It was an interesting concept and I loved seeing how much Briseis developed from the first book and how compassionate and understanding she is towards the Trojan women as she helps them deal with their trauma. 

I love Pat Barker's writing and quickly found myself wrapped up in this retelling. Whilst I wasn't a huge fan of including another perspective in The Silence of the Girls, I felt like having the perspectives of a couple of characters in this book helped move the story along and at times were needed. 

Whilst I enjoyed this story, I do find myself preferring The Silence of the Girls. I'm intrigued to see if Pat Barker will continue to tell this story. If she does I know I'll be picking it up! I really recommend reading The Silence of the Girls and The Women of Troy if you love Greek Mythology retellings. 

Thank you so much to Penguin for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review (Ad-Gifted).
Was this review helpful?
Pyrrhus, son of Achilles, is ready to sack Troy. Inside the horse it’s hot, cramped, and tense. But once unleashed in Troy atrocities are rife as the Greek’s finally complete the 10 year war with a massacre. 

The Women of Troy are the spoils of war, shared out amongst the Greek kings. Briseis, formerly a Queen in Lyrnesseus, has been in the Greek encampment for some time, having been awarded to Achilles when her city fell. She knows the brutality of camp life, but wants to create a different future for the women of fallen Troy.

Set across the few days after Troy falls, the victorious Greeks are fractious as the winds are preventing them from sailing home. Tales of punishment from the Gods for their crimes abound. 

As with The Silence of the Girls the book is brutal with the horrors of war and it’s aftermath, particularly the treatment of the surviving women who are raped and brutalised. 

But it is also equally Immersive and engrossing. Such a captivating follow up. Brilliantly well written with building drama and passion.

I’m really hopeful there may be a third book to cover Briseis’ journey to Greece and life after Troy has fallen!
Was this review helpful?
I was impressed by Pat Barker’s 2018 retelling of the siege of Troy, The Silence of the Girls, and The Women of Troy not only picks up exactly where that book left off but seems to herald a third book that will continue to follow Briseis, our protagonist from Lyrnessus who was enslaved in The Silence of the Girls but has been newly freed by marriage in The Women of Troy. Unlike The Silence of the Girls, which zipped with great economy through the major events of the Trojan War, The Women of Troy is deliberately static and brooding. Stranded on the shores of Troy after sacking the city, the Greek army and their captives can only wait for the wind to change, tortured by a brief lull in the weather each morning before the interminable gale starts up again. Briseis wanders through the camp, encountering the most famous women of Troy in turn; Hecuba, shrivelled but still defiant; Andromache, shattered by grief and trauma; Cassandra, being Cassandra (she’s been characterised exactly the same in every retelling of the Greek epics I’ve ever read, and I love her for it); Helen, being pretty selfish but a little more humanised than in other versions I’ve seen from modern writers. The first half of this novel can therefore feel a little too schematic, and Briseis seems to have the measure of all these other women almost immediately, which makes her become rather too idealised – although we also understand more explicitly that she’s telling this story from the vantage point of old age, which perhaps excuses some of her self-aggrandising narration.

Once it’s discovered, about halfway through the novel, that somebody has been trying to bury Priam’s body, which has been deliberately left to rot in the sand (an episode that seems to have been inspired by Antigone), The Women of Troy suddenly picks up its pace, although this isn’t to say I didn’t also enjoy the more reflective first half. Like The Silence of the Girls, Briseis’s first-person narration is interspersed with third-person narration from male characters – here, Achilles’ son Pyrrhus and the Trojan priest Calchas. I felt Barker handled the shift between viewpoints more smoothly in this sequel, partly because Pyrrhus and Calchas are introduced as narrators from the beginning, rather than only appearing after we’ve already had a long stretch of Briseis’s narration. Her prose remains as strong as it was in The Silence of the Girls, and she continues to use a direct, modern style very effectively, especially in dialogue. Like The Silence of the Girls, The Women of Troy didn’t absolutely bowl me away, but it’s a haunting, beautiful novel, both books are by far the best of the recent influx of feminist Greek myth and epic retellings, and if this is a trilogy, I’ll certainly be reading the third installment.
Was this review helpful?
I was eagerly anticipating this, having really enjoyed The Silence of the Girls three years ago. The Women of Troy didn’t initially wow me as that did, I think in part because it’s a continuation of that story rather than something totally new. The novelty this time is telling the part of the epic myth that is usually either glossed over or not told at all – the period between the sacking of Troy and the departure of the Greeks for their various homes. Pat Barker had done such a good job of creating the world of the Greek camp outside the walls of Troy that it took no time at all to imagine myself there once more.
Rather than starting by focusing on the women again, it begins in the belly of the beast, in amongst the men preparing to storm Troy. It’s an effective opening, even cinematic – I could imagine this as the cold open of a screen version. The tension as the Greeks wait inside the horse while the Trojans feast their success is a mark of how good this story is, why it’s still being retold thousands of years on. We follow Pyrrhus (a petulant teenager who has inherited all the worst bits of his father Achilles and apparently none of the few redeeming features) into Troy as it is sacked and as he kills Priam.
Then we’re back in the Greek camp with Briseis, such a well-drawn and sympathetic character and a good narrator. Again, she has to deal with the Greeks but this time she also encounters the Trojan women who have been taken as slaves, including members of the royal family. Each of them is interesting enough to sustain a whole story in their own right – still-proud Hecuba, brittle Cassandra and traumatised Andromache. It’s not told exclusively from the women’s point of view, though – our foils are Pyrrhus and the priest Calchas. All too soon it was over and the ships were setting sail from the beaches below Troy. I wonder if we will meet Briseis again.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC.

In this book, Barker continues her retelling of the Trojan War from the oft-overlooked viewpoint of the Trojan women. Brieseis is now carrying Achilles' child and the Greeks, though victorious, are trapped on the Trojan shores by an ominous wind that will not let them sail home. Barker explores issues of honour, family and misogyny through this tale, which allows us to see the aftermath of the sack of Troy from the perspective of the women who lost loved ones, rather than the men who killed them.
Was this review helpful?
The Women of Troy picks the story up where The Silence of the Girls left Briseis shortly after the death of Achilles in the Trojan War. It begins with the infamous Trojan Horse defeating the city of Troy, with Achilles’ son, Pyrrhus taking his father’s place in the victory over Priam and his people. This story focuses on the time following the end of the Trojan War when the Greek ships are grounded, unable to leave due to a relentless wind off the sea, the gods have been offended as Priam’s body remains unburied. Briseis is navigating new territory as the wife of Alcimus and pregnant with Achilles’ child. She is determined to form alliances with these newly enslaved Trojan women as the bonds between the Greek kings and fighters begin to fray around them without the ambition of war to bind them. Together with her newly forged ties with Priam’s defiant widow Hecuba, Cassandra, the widely ignored seer and the naïve but bravely determined Amina, Briseis treads a dangerous path to effect some form of revenge on her captors. 
I really enjoyed this tale of the aftermath of the Trojan War and the characters Pat Barker has brought to life, she writes the brutality of war and its effects on the captured women brilliantly as they survive their captors with as much dignity and resourcefulness as they can muster. Once again, this book breathes life into the experiences of the women in the Greek camp, but also brings in the voices of Pyrrhus and Calchas and their perspectives. This I found particularly interesting, as neither of these men came across as being secure in themselves once away from their peers, both are plagued by self-doubt and apprehension about their position within their community. Overall, this was the perfect sequel to The Silence of the Girls and I would love to find out what happens next. 
Please be aware there are references to rape, human sacrifice, death (including child death) and violence in this book. Thank you to NetGalley and publisher for a digital copy for review.
Was this review helpful?
“We women are peculiar creatures. We tend not to love those who murder our families.”

I absolutely loved The Silence of the Girls, so when I (somehow) got the opportunity to review The Women of Troy I jumped at the chance. Directly following on from the previous book, we follow Briseis and the other women who have been taken prisoner by the Greeks following the Trojan War. 

This book was – dare I say it – even better than The Silence of the Girls. From the very first page we are thrown into the action, in the belly of the Trojan Horse. My one criticism of the previous book was how towards the end we suddenly jumped to perspective to Achilles (who we had grown to hate) to advance the plot. That wasn’t a problem here; the ‘plot’ of the Trojan War, told through the men’s eyes, was interspersed with our main story, so it didn’t feel quite as jarring when we switched perspectives. 

Briseis, now a married woman (though not by choice), is now in a position to help the other women in the camp, many of whom have gone from being the daughters of Trojan nobility to Greek slaves. We really got to see both the strength and flaws of her character in the way she interacted with the other women, and she has the self-awareness at one point to admit that the way the men view the women has influenced the way she does. 

Once again Pat Barker does not shy away from the reality of war and its consequences for women, both in the violence that they experience and the way it shapes them as people. Briseis’ repeated statement that she hopes her sister is dead rather than enslaved captures the depth of trauma these women go through. That being said, there are still moments of joy, made all the more precious by the women’s day-to-day lives.

One touch I particularly enjoyed was Briseis’ interactions with Cassandra. Cassandra has the gift of prophecy, but is cursed that she will never be believed. The way this was written was fantastic; it would be so easy for the other women to be mocking and outright dismissive of Cassandra, but instead they were sympathetic and pitying. It made Cassandra’s curse even more heart-wrenching. When she made a prediction she was met with care but still with a total lack of belief.

This book was everything I hoped it would be and more. It’s the perfect sequel, both continuing the task the first book set out to do and achieving more. It is an absolute must-read.

I received a free ARC from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
When I read Pat Barker's last book, The Silence of the Girls, 3 years ago I could not wait for her next book to be published. I think that the old saying "absence makes the heart grow fonder" must apply in this case as my expectations were of another 4 Star read and, in truth, I really did not enjoy this book at all. It seemed to have no real storyline and just wandered along until everyone. literally,  went home. Truly disappointed.
Was this review helpful?
As a Classicist who continues to work daily in Classics and Ancient World publishing, i a, aware that I might be a bit more critical of Barker’s writing than most readers.

I struggled with Silence of the Girls for several reasons (including the major mis-labelling that these women had been silenced in history, which is entirely wrong - they were a source of great inspiration for many ancient writers including Euripides and Ovid…), but I am always desperate to read anything set in the ancient world, so I was thrilled to receive an ARC of Barker’s sequel.

Unfortunately, I just feel that Barker too easily transposes the setting of her usual WW2 historical narratives onto an ancient world story…You could change a few of the names and very easily feel like you were reading Call the Midwife. There is just something about the work as a whole that jars with me, which is a shame as I really wanted to enjoy Barker’s work…but something isn’t quite right. 

I also think there’s something a bit strange in how the volume is cast as The Women of Troy, but it opens with Pyrrhus, and indeed he is given almost as much narrative space as Briseis…I had expected this sequel to follow the women as they voyaged to their new homes in Greece, perhaps following Cassandra to Agamemnon’s fate, or Hecuba with Odysseus. It’s a bit of a shame that in this book, nothing particularly seems to…happen. I do agree that Barker’s characterisation is strong and she has definitely done her research into the ancient world, which is a huge undertaking, but overall this feels more like character-study practice rather than a fully worked novel.

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin UK for this ARC.
Was this review helpful?