Cover Image: The Women of Troy

The Women of Troy

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Member Reviews

I didn’t want this book to end. It was clear the end was coming, that the separation had to come, but I wasn’t ready. Was it intentional that this mirrored the feelings of the women of Troy wrenched from their home and their friends?

The novel follows on from The Silence of the Girls and brings us back to Briseis, Achilles’ concubine, gifted to him as part of the spoils of war. This time Troy is defeated and the city’s women, from the highest to the low, are divided up among the Greek warriors to be used and abused as they see fit - wouldn’t it be a comfort to think that this wasn’t still happening in conflicts, women raped, forced into marriages and slavery? Though the war is won, the Greeks are trapped by the weather, unable to sail for home. Like the weather, it is the ignored women, apparently voiceless and powerless, who drive events and manipulate kings, priests and warriors.

From the two-dimensional characters of myth, Barker creates fully-formed and muscled, utterly real and individual, people you feel you can see and know. Her descriptions put you there, in the Greek camp under the blackened towers of Troy. I could see the shoreline, the black shadows of the ships, the moon breaking through cloud, smell the fetid air in the women’s quarters, hear the constant wind and the silence when it dropped.

Barker takes the airy brushstrokes of ancient stories and creates something solid that speaks not just of history but of war and the experience of women, in particular, across the ages.
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This book is what happens after the fall of Troy. The Trojan women have been taken as slaves even those of royalty.

The story is told from Briseis view and her taking pity on the captured women and taking care of the women. 

I did find this book slow and as such i did need to put it down and do something else. Though given the nature of the story there wouldn't be much 'excitement'. Though Bakers writting did make me want to pick it up and continue, this is also made easier as the chapters are short and there is q flow so you don't lose your place when you re-pick up. 

Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for providing me with a E-arc for an honest review.
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Following directly on from The Silence of the Girls, in the aftermath of the fall of Troy and the story of Briseis, the Trojan trophy wife of the now dead hero Achilles. Pregnant Briseis's fate and indeed all of the ladies of the Greek camp, victors and losers alike, are exceptionally precarious as camp polictics threaten their existence. Barker captures in graphic and horrific detail the horrendous fate of women and abject barbarism in ancient times. The prose is vivid and uncompromising. However, I found the general pace of the narrative slow. I struggled with the inital rhythm of the book, the ebb and flow of Briseis visiting the various haracters of the camp repeatedly, meant that for me, the book didn't really gain any pace until the end. Still a must read for anyone that loves classical retellings.
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Troy has fallen, the Greeks have won, but they’re trapped by winds conjured by vengeful gods and unable to return home. Camped outside the destroyed gates of Troy, the Greek soldiers remain in limbo with the women they’ve captured. Briseis, pregnant with Achilles’ child, is caught up in the disputes of these violent men and finds herself responsible for the women of Troy: Helen, Cassandra, Hecuba and all the rest.

This is another fantastic retelling from Pat Barker, following the lives of the women in the Greek camp following the fall of Troy. The characters are the main feature of this novel, as we rejoin Briseis and meet Achilles’ son, Pyrrhus. Barker does a brilliant job of growing and expanding the characters without changing them too much from the original myths. They remain entirely recognisable but with a lot of added depth.

What lets this story down is that there isn’t really much of a plot. The Silence of the Girls was an interesting take on a well-known myth but also contained a captivating story. The Women of Troy on the other hand, was missing something here. It was still a great read because I loved the characters and the writing style (Pat Barker has beautiful prose), but it just wasn’t as good as the first book. Fantastic still, but a little bit of a let down.
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I love the author, and had quite enjoyed the Silence of the Girls. I did not love this sequel as much - Briseis’ perspective as a narrator was enjoyable, and I do love any retelling of the classical myths in any form. However the pace and language were a bit off for me. Unless you really loved the Silence of the Girls or have a thing for the classical myth stories, I would probably pass on this one.
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*This is an excellent retelling of a much loved legend, I would definitely recommend! Note that this is a sequel to The Silence of the Girls and it would be beneficial to read that first.
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I read The Silence of the Girls last summer and, though I loved the concept, I was underwhelmed by the execution. Perhaps that's an unfair position for me to have come to the sequel from, but I hoped I'd be pleasantly surprised. I hoped for a richer elaboration on the aftermath of War from the eyes of the women who'd been made orphans, widows and slaves by it. I hoped to be immersed in the reality beyond the romanticism of the mythologised heroes. I hoped to be emotionally invested in the characters and moved by the scale of human loss suffered on all sides. I hoped for too much. Where The Silence of the Girls left me with no real lasting impression, The Women of Troy certainly has.

Essentially, my issue is that the writing feels lazy. I appreciate that it's a modernisation intended to appeal and be accessible to many readers, but the anachronistic idioms and colloquialisms were jarring and often ridiculous to me. The narrative is clichéd, lethargic, and even problematic. Yes, most irredemable is the fact that Barker managed to make me hate Bresies. I find it inexcusable that the only descriptions offered of a number of the women are deeply prejudicial and needlessly harmful. Two characters are described as 'ret--ded' and another is repeatedly ridiculed and demeaned over her weight. What gall to position this novel as empowering silenced, forgotten women, only to diminish their voices with such deafening, obsolescent condescension.

I've recently started reading Haynes' A Thousand Ships, a lyrical, polyvochal retelling of the Trojan War, and already it's a thousand times more compelling. In the ever growing pantheon of retellings, The Women of Troy falls so gracelessly short of epic.

Thanks to Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Books and NetGalley for the digital review copy.
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I thoroughly enjoyed reading women of troy. I had previously read 'silence of the girls' which was equally good.
Well written, the characters are developed well and it gives a good reflection of life in that time.
Beautifully written book. would encourage people to buy it and read....
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Following on from the Silence of the Girls, the Women of Troy begins with the Greeks hiding in the wooden horse while the rest of their warriors pretend to sail away. The description of their cramped wait is a great start to this second book, the tension of whether the Trojans will drag the horse into the walls of the city or burn it where it stands.
The story is told from the perspective of Briseis, who is now Lord Alcimus' wife but is carrying Achlles' child. She is able to move about the camp - visiting the various women. It is a time of waiting for the winds to drop and allow them to sail home. The descriptions of how they cope and the the hostilities between the different groups is so well described. Revisiting the classical myths from the point of view of the women is fascinating.
Many thanks to Netgalley/Pat Barker/Penguin UK for a digital copy of this title. All opinions expressed are my own.
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3.5 stars
As a follow up to The Silence of the Girls which I enjoyed, I was really looking forward to The Women of Troy. However while I did enjoy this book, I didn't love it. 

In this sequel, we continue to follow Briseis in her new life on camp, after Achilles' death and the fall of Troy.
We meet new women turned slaves, and also follow Pyrrhus, Achilles's son, and a Trojan priest, Chalcas. 
The pace here is a lot slower, with an atmosphere that can be suffocating, as the Greeks are unable to leave due to the weather. 

There are a lot of power plays going on, new and old relationships forming or dissolving, and a constant struggle for power and survival amongst Greeks and Trojans alike.  
What I enjoyed in this novel is the fact that it is a little more focused on the women, we see how differently they are dealing with their captivity and grief, and the bond that is forming between them. We get to learn about the royal women's backstory, and there's mention of other Greek women   and tales, which I liked. I loved Hecuba. 

What annoyed me was the language. While I understand it is a modern version of an old tale, I'd like to not feel like I'm listening to the local men getting drunk at the pub downstairs.
Second, there is some unnecessary  use of problematic language (the R word) and body shaming, which might be to make it "authentic", but was even more disappointing when coming from Briseis. Last, the pace  got a little too slow for me a times, and I found myself drifting off.  

Again, it was still an overall enjoyable experience for me. 
If you loved TSOTG, you'll most likely enjoy The Women of Troy. If you were already on the fence, this might not be for you. 

Thanks to netgalley and penguinukbooks for the e-arc.
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Having read and enjoyed The Silence of the Girls, I was excited to start this sort-of follow up and wasn’t disappointed.
The story begins where the last book ended - with the Greek army inside their legendary wooden horse waiting to bring Troy to its knees. Although there’s the odd chapter told from the point of view of a male character, this book (like the last one) puts the female characters at the heart of the story. And it’s this angle that makes the books so enthralling and interesting. 

I’ve never been a huge fan of Greek mythology, but it’s a testament to how Barker brings the characters to life that this book had me gripped from the very first page. Her characters are real people, flawed people who have feelings, emotions, worries, loves - all the things that make a good story. Occasionally I was a bit confused about family trees or how everyone is connected, but this didn’t at all ruin my enjoyment - each character has their own personality and their interactions feel genuine.

I would definitely recommend this book - a captivating read that tells this very famous story in glorious Technicolor.
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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.
My thoughts: I honestly feel like even Pat Barker’s grocery lists probably read like a work of art! 😍 The Ghost Road was one of my assigned texts for AS/A2 English and I got hooked on the Regeneration trilogy. I find her writing style truly wonderful and I love that you can detect a distinct Yorkshire voice every now and again in her prose. 
The Women of Troy is a haunting portrayal of the aftermath of war. I do love a split narrative and a strong female voice. I found that I really admired Briseis’ character, she was so strong, caring and fair and used her position to help those around her. 
This was a really compelling read and I find myself looking out for more mythology based novels and retellings to add to my list!
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After reading Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls a few years ago, I wasn’t really expecting a sequel, but here it is: The Women of Troy. I’m sure if you wanted to you could read this one as a standalone, but I would recommend reading both as this is a direct continuation of the first. Together, the two novels tell the story of the Trojan War and its aftermath.

The Silence of the Girls was based on the events of Homer’s Iliad; this second novel is set after the fall of Troy, when the victorious Greek invaders are stranded on the shore, waiting for the winds to change so that their ships can sail home. Trapped there with them are the Trojan women they have taken captive, some of whom were once queens and princesses but are now treated as slaves. Among them is Briseis, who had been taken by the great Greek warrior Achilles as a war prize and then married off to his friend Alcimus after Achilles’ death.

As in the previous novel, Briseis is our main narrator, but there are also some chapters written from other perspectives: Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles, desperate to prove himself as great as his father, and Calchas, a priest and prophet. One of my criticisms of The Silence of the Girls was that, despite the title, we only actually heard the voice of one girl, Briseis, while large sections of the book were written from the point of view of Achilles – and the title of The Women of Troy also seems slightly misleading, as we have two male perspectives and only one female. However, this time I felt that, at least through Briseis’ eyes, we do see more of the other women in the camp than we did in the first book. These include Hecuba, the former Queen of Troy and wife of the murdered King Priam; their daughter Cassandra, who has the gift – or curse – of prophecy; and Andromache, the widow of Hector who was killed by Achilles during the war. All of these women have interesting stories of their own, as well as now all sharing the same problem: how to cope with living amongst the men who destroyed their city.

"Then – and now – people seem to take it for granted that I loved Achilles. Why wouldn’t I? I had the fastest, strongest, bravest, most beautiful man of his generation in my bed – how could I not love him?

He killed my brothers.

We women are peculiar creatures. We tend not to love those who murder our families."

As this entire novel is set during that period of waiting for the weather to change, it’s a slower paced and more character-driven story than the previous one. The plot, so much as there is one, revolves around the attempts of the Trojans to bury the body of their beloved King Priam, brutally killed by Pyrrhus and denied proper burial. Despite this, I still found the story quite gripping and enjoyed getting to know some of the women better. I’m wondering whether there will be a third book, as this one felt very like the middle book in a trilogy to me.
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A strong continuation on from The Girls of Troy, sequel of Greek myth retelling The Women of Troy delves deeper into the destruction that the invasion of Troy wreaked on the lives of the women taken and held hostage, post Achilles’ death at the end of the first book. This is extremely dark, as warranted by the story, especially the opening chapter of the invasion via the Trojan horse. Those with sensitive dispositions should avoid, but this is another excellent addition to the canon of Greek myth retellings.
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Women of Troy picks up where The Silence of the Girls left off.  Troy has fallen and the Greeks and their allies desire to leave is hampered by a lack of wind.  Briseis is again the main narrator of this novel although we do occasionally hear from a third person narration Pyrrhus Achilles son.  Brises, having been married off to a Greek soldier and pregnant with Achilles child, has a standing above the other Women of Troy who are now slaves.   Brises is keenly aware of this (perhaps temporary privilege) and tries to help her country women.

There is a very different tone to this book as the source material is now Euripides rather than Homer.   I certainly knew more about the Siege of Troy and so found Silence of The Girls was a refreshing femist take on a well loved story.   Women of Troy is slower paced, the whole point is the boredom and frustration of the Soldiers to return home now there is no more fighting to be done.   This makes it tricky to have the same impact or excitement as the first.  But for the Women of Troy they are never not at war.  They are always fighting for survival and for some sense of control over their own bodies.  

The novel examines much more closely the psychological impact of slavery and rape (the common female experience of war).  There are women who have always been slaves (the Trojans also kept slaves as Briseis admits), such as the formidable Helles who is hard to touch because ‘her body has become her armour’, and royalty who have now become slaves, such as the always fascinating Cassandra.  There is also the gossiping, pettiness and insecurity of the ‘great heroes’ in the cold aftermath of war.  That their ‘heroism’ was mostly killing old men and babies (sometimes still in the wombs of women) sits as an uncomfortable truth, which just makes them more dangerous.  

Pat Barker as always in her writing on war does not hold back on its sheer brutality and this novel is no exception.  The descriptions are deeply distressing.  Barker also continues to use modern day vernacular, I personally prefer this as it brings to light how we romanticize these stories of misogyny and brutality (language has an important part to play in this).  It is jarring at times, for example, Briseis comments that she is sick to death of that infernal chant “we are going home, we are going home” but I think it is effective.  

As the middle book of a trilogy this certainly feels like a bridging book.   I will be interested to see how the third in the trilogy is written as Briseis does not really get a mention from this point in time in any ancient texts.   Whilst this could be read as a stand alone novel, I would recommend reading Silence of the Girls first.   Whilst I didn’t find this as compelling as the first I think it stands extremely well (and look forward to the third novel and rereading this) as part of a trilogy.
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Troy has fallen to the Greek invaders yet the heroes of war remain stuck upon their land. The weather fails them, day after day, and their ships remain bound to the shore and unable to carry them home. The initially joyous mood shifts to one of fear over the gods dissatisfaction and then discontent with each other. The men may brawl occasionally amongst themselves but it is the women in camp who bear the brunt of their overflowing emotion.

This is the second of Pat Barker's Greek mythological reimaginings, told from the perspective of the women slaved, raped, beaten, murdered, and mistreated during this time. I found this just as brutal and sorrowful a read as [book:The Silence of the Girls|39866035] and became just as invested in the story that unfolded.

This story gives voice to the silenced women and a new perspective on the renowned heroes whose names are immortalised from myth. It provides the reader with a human face of war and exposes all the bloody, fetid, brutal, and undignified parts of it that are often overlooked in favour of the battlefield heroics that are instead rejoiced.
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I was lucky enough to get an ARC of The Women of Troy by Pat Barker from @netgalley via @penguinrandomhouse and after loving The Silence of Girls couldn’t wait to dive into it. I don’t think you necessarily need to have read the first book to enjoy this one, but I think it does help put the characters, of whom there are many, into context. Briseis is our narrator once again, this time as the wife of Achilles friend Alchimus but pregnant with Achilles baby. She is the one who holds everything and everyone together - the tension between the men and their fear of the Gods, the women who have been captured and long to return from Troy, the hatred of Helen and her beauty…. It’s a really enjoyable book and brings to life the Greek myths so well. It’s sometimes a little tricky trying to remember who everyone is but I loved that the characters have such depth to them, particularly that of Calchas, the dress wearing, face-painted priest and of the inner demons faced by Achilles son Pyrrhus as he battles to be as revered as his father was in battle. Rumour has it that this is the second in a trilogy of books and that the next will focus on cursed Cassandra the seer. I can’t wait for that one! It’s out now in hardback!

“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.”
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I adored The Silence of the Girls, and Pat Barker has done it again. This book picks up with Briseis where the last one ended – Troy has fallen, the war is over, and the Greeks are waiting for the wind to change so that they can sail home. Usually this bit gets brushed over because everyone is keen to get to Odysseus and his crazy journey back to Ithica, or Agamemnon skipping back to Mycenae, merrily ignoring Cassandra's prophecies about his upcoming murder – but after a good few chapters I realised that Barker had elected to set this entire novel during that strange dead time while they were waiting for the winds – and it's such a clever idea. Yet again she's found a way to tell the story of the women, the alliances they forge and the cruelties they suffer and the revenges they plan. It's all so clearly painted that you can feel yourself there, quietly rooting for the women as they push back against their captors and care for each other. Beautiful stuff.
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My thanks to Penguin U.K. Hamish Hamilton for an advance reading copy via NetGalley of ‘The Women of Troy’ by Pat Barker in exchange for an honest review. I had already preordered a signed copy from Waterstones. 

This is a sequel to ‘The Silence of the Girls’, Barker’s highly acclaimed retelling of ‘The Iliad’, published in 2018. I fell in love with it at my first encounter and have since reread it twice. So, I was very excited to read this second novel that explores the aftermatof the fall of Troy. It is inspired by the tragedy, ‘The Trojan Women’ by Euripides.

Following the sack of Troy, the Greeks are unable to set sail for home due to continuing bad weather. Might the gods be angry about the desecration of Troy’s temples and their priestesses or by the slaughter of boy children and pregnant Trojan women, as the Greeks don’t want to leave any chance of revengeful descendants? Or could it be due to King Priam’s body lying unburied? So many possibilities.

Again, Briseis serves as the main narrator though there are contributing chapters from Calchas, the seer and high priest of Apollo, and Pyrrhus, the 16-year-old son of Achilles, who has serious daddy issues. Briseis is now married to Alcimus, a close companion of Achilles, and is carrying the late Achilles’ child. She now has status among the Greeks and uses this to assist the Trojan women, now considered spoils of war. I was especially moved by her interactions with the doomed Cassandra.

This is a brutal novel in its unflinching depiction of the fates of women in war situations. While set in the ancient world its message resonates down the centuries to the current day as such violence continues to occur. 

Overall, I cannot praise ‘The Women of Troy’ enough. 

 Very highly recommended.
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I have never read this author before and I didn’t realise that this was a sequel to a novel I haven’t read, however, this did not matter.  This works very well as a stand-alone novel.

This novel is the story of the fall of Troy, told by Briseis, who had been the bed-slave of Achilles who, prior to his death, has given her to his loyal friend Alcimus as his wife, in order that Achilles’ unborn child can be protected.

I found this book more interesting as I have not long ago listened to Stephen Fry’s Troy, so I knew the story and I knew the characters. However, what I loved about this novel is that is highlights the plight of women caught up in the war - rape, violence, murder, slavery - whilst the men revel and revere everything violent and bloodthirsty, and blame the Gods for everything that goes wrong.  The parallels here with modern day life is worrying, the violence that seems to have become a religion for many men and nations, and the women who face the consequences.

I am now going to seek out the first novel, and any other novels by Pat Barker.
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