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Sponsored by Royal Film Commission Jordan. Screen International is the essential resource for the international film industry. Subscribe now for monthly editions, awards season weeklies, access to the Screen International archive and supplements including Stars of Tomorrow and World of Locations. Site powered by Webvision Cloud. Skip to main content Skip to navigation. But the effect seems to have been rather randomly sprinkled in the text and often in italics as if to draw attention.

But that minor issue aside, this is a strong retelling. As the story concludes, Briseis realises that her attempt to tell her own story has to an extent failed. But Achilles is dead and her life is only just starting: "Suppose, suppose just once, once, in all these centuries, the slippery gods keep their word and Achilles is granted eternal glory in return for his early death under the walls of Troy.

What will they make of us, the people of those unimaginably distant times? A love story, perhaps? I just hope they manage to work out who the lovers were.

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His story. His, not mine. It ends at his grave. Now, my own story can begin. Reduced to 3 on later reflection as the novel's flaws have remained with me as much as it's strengths.

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It aims to tell the story of the typically voiceless women during the Trojan War by focusing the story primarily on the perspective of Briseis who was once nobility but during the war became Achilles' slave. And for the most part I believe it fulfils its aims. The book doesn't flinch from portraying the barbarity of war time and is filled with gory battlefield depictions and a lot of sexual violence. This doesn't make for an easy read but 'The Silence of the Girls' is an utterly compelling read.

This doesn't make for an easy read but it makes for a necessary one I believe. So much of the time Greek heroes are romanticised and we forget their cruelty; we forget how in times of war cruelty and kindness are frequently bedfellows and this book explores that ideology to its fullest. I found it incredibly refreshing to read a book with such well rounded characterisations of these familiar mythic names: characters such as Briseis, Achilles, Patroclus and Agamemnon all had light and dark facets to their personalities and felt eminently human. I also thoroughly enjoyed the choices that Barker made regarding plot development and plot pacing, and even though I am quite familiar with the story of the Trojan War I was never once bored by a sense of inevitability or predictability. There was definitely a freshness and vitality to this interpretation. There are however some choices with the narrative style that at times felt a little clunky For one the language style is rather harsh, modern; for me on occasion the book just jars a little with some of the turns of phrase chosen.

The other slightly jarring choice is when the narrative switches from Briseis' first person perspective to Achilles' third I understand the aims of the author in trying to show the completeness of the war story but it does feel somewhat an unusual choice given that the title of the book is 'The Silence of the Girls'. Also, it does happen somewhat haphazardly and as I was reading the perspective changes always momentarily pulled me out of the reading experience.

However, the ending of the book does somewhat explain these perspective choices and its purpose, but for me there was something off in the execution of this ultimate aim. However, this is definitely a book I would recommend to anyone with an interest in Greek mythology and makes for an interesting companion piece to The Iliad and also to Madeline Miller's 'The Song of Achilles'.

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View all 6 comments. Instagram Twitter Facebook Amazon Pinterest Man, people are getting all up in this book's face because it doesn't read like Madeline Miller. Of course it doesn't read like Madeline Miller. Do you see the name Madeline Miller on the cover? No; it says "Pat Barker. But that doesn't necessarily mean that she's a bad person, either. When I saw that it was about Ancient Greece, however, I immediately prioritized it a little higher on my to-read list, because I love learning about antiquity.

I could listen to it all day.

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Most of the story is narrated by Briseis, but some of it is also narrated by Achilles. It is not a book for the faint of heart. The author really does not shirk on the physical and sexual violence. As William Tecumseh Sherman said, "War is hell. I remember reading somewhere recently that Greek heroes aren't really the same as American heroes, in that many of them were not Good People.

Many of them would probably be closer to villains, now that I think about it, who are far more consumed by vainglory than our almost self-abnegating selfless heroes. And I think she has a good point. Achilles, too, is awful. Pat Barker lays that out clearly. Barker also makes the odd choice of writing this book with modern language.

What gives with that? I saw that a lot of people who were criticizing this book took issue with that yes, the Madeline Miller people, mostly and I'm more sympathetic to this; the Greek myths were lyrical and dramatic, and its odd to have that sort of storytelling removed from the equation: odd and jarring. That said, I did enjoy this book. Parts of it were slow Achilles and it was unpleasant to read horrific scenes , and told in an odd way, but the modern language also makes it easier to understand what's going on. I would not read this in lieu of The Iliad , but it makes for a nice supplement.

I think Pat Barker is one of my favourite writers about war.

Author of the Chronicles of the Way & The Darkness

What I enjoy about Barker's style is she balances often intensely visceral and clinical descriptions of violence with a tender and complex exploration of the emotional impacts of warfare. I read Silence of the Girls much less as a retelling of The Iliad from a female perspective but more as Barker demonstrating that, even if we have moved from I think Pat Barker is one of my favourite writers about war. I read Silence of the Girls much less as a retelling of The Iliad from a female perspective but more as Barker demonstrating that, even if we have moved from swords and spears to rockets and missiles, the resulting "collateral damage" is almost identical.

There are many ways to view this text. The Guardian review has it as a "Feminist Ilaid", The Atlantic as "The Iliad meets Meto" and certainly Briseis is as our clear-eyed guide to all the misfortunes of women. Furthermore, I also thought Barker managed to convey a very realistic and complete portrait of grief in the later sections in which Achilles voice dominates.

I appreciated that Barker has managed to strip this story down from all the Homeric heroism and classical beauty to take us back to the reality of things - rats, boredom, sexual violence, the ancient era version of shell shock and the appalling loss of life.

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Her decision to convey this using anachronisms of speech enhanced the story for me but your reaction to this could vary depending on how much you want this to be a faithful Ilaid experience. Leaving you with an excerpt from one of the more effecting parts for me, a list of names and deaths followed up by anecdotes of these men as boys told from their mothers. And so began the greatest killing spree of the war.

As it happens, I know the names of all the men he killed that day. I could recite them to you, if I thought there was any point A sword swipe to the neck that very nearly took off his head. And then - Demuchus. A spear in his right knee.

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