The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Nobody can write war like Pat Barker. Not the romanticised bloody battles which are so often written about, but the heart rending, visceral, brutal effect that war has on humanity.

Back in college I read Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy and it connected me with WWI in a way that nothing else had managed. The Silence of the Girls had a similar effect. It took one of the greatest Greek myths ever told and made it accessible. The familiar characters became flesh and blood, more flawed than heroic and the women who had been previously ignored became their own people, with personalities and emotions.

Their fear and disgust became mine and I could feel myself in their camp, smelling the blood and the sweat and following them around as they tried to survive.

I loved Briseis and couldn’t help rooting for her to escape Achilles and find some kind of happiness in her future.

I found it really important that this book wasn’t a love story. Briseis didn’t fall helplessly in love with the man who enslaved her. She didn’t forget that he had murdered her family and Pat Barker doesn’t shy away from the fact that these so called heroes are raping women they have claimed as prizes. It is such an important book and it really makes you think about the way these stories have classically been told, with faceless women doing what they are told because the men deserve their spoils of war.

I thoroughly recommend this book, it’s one of my top reads of the year.
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