Illustration of five women in white cloth robes standing and sitting beneath a large purple-colored wooden horse.

The Women of Troy / Pat Barker

The sequel to Pat Barker’s novel The Silence of the Girls, this quietly-compelling novel recounts the aftermath of the Trojan war from the perspective of Briseis, one of the few Trojans to have survived the great city’s fall.

During the war, Briseis was enslaved by the hero Achilles, then given in marriage to his companion Alcimus after Achilles’ death. Now that the war is over, Briseis struggles to make a new life for herself, navigating the political and cultural demands of the enemy kings and warriors who keep the surviving Trojan women enslaved. These men underestimate, however, the strength of the women’s conviction and the bonds between them, which create a formidable network of subterfuge and secrecy.

Some prior knowledge of the Trojan War and its key players is useful when delving into this novel, so readers would do well to start at the beginning with Barker’s The Silence of the Girls. Fans of Madeline Miller’s novels The Song of Achilles and Circe will be pleased with the structure and detail of this retelling, which delves into the gritty minutiae of life following the war. Regardless of the need for previous context, The Women of Troy stands tall on the strength of its characters and the humanity of their presentation.

Available in Fiction.

EB: November 2021

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