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Book Review: The Silence of The Girls by Pat Barker

Greek-Trojan brutality jarrs with the contemporary reflections of the silent concubine. Think Handmaid's Tale, but without the pretence of purity and childbirth.


Exploring the 'female story' of The Iliad and the fall of Troy, Pat Barker's new novel is narrated by Briseis. A former queen of her city, she is now kept as a sex slave for Achilles (and briefly for Agamemnon), as well as being called upon in their more sociable moments to pour the wine. Having watched her captors kill her own brothers and husband when their city fell, Briseis is cynical and unemotional in her storytelling. This is not her story, she emplores. It is his.


Set towards the end of the 10 year Trojan war, we are guided through the fleeting introductions and then brutal battle deaths of the men who