27 September 2021


  •  this edition in large print published in 2019 by Doubleday
  • ISBN 978-1-64358-109-5
  • 430 pages

Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award
Finalist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction

Here is the story of the Iliad as we’ve never heard it before: in the words of Briseis, Trojan queen and captive of Achilles. Given only a few words in Homer’s epic and largely erased by history, she is nonetheless a pivotal figure in the Trojan War. In these pages she comes fully to life: wry, watchful, forging connections among her fellow female prisoners even as she is caught between Greece’s two most powerful warriors. Her story pulls back the veil on the thousands of women who lived behind the scenes of the Greek army camp—concubines, nurses, prostitutes, the women who lay out the dead—as gods and mortals spar, and as a legendary war hurtles toward its inevitable conclusion. Brilliantly written, filled with moments of terror and beauty, The Silence of the Girls gives voice to an extraordinary woman—and makes an ancient story new again. 

My Take

Briseis knows what will happen to her if she is still alive when Achilles and the Greek army reach her palace. She can hear him coming. Her husband, father and her brothers are already dead, and she has the option to throw herself from the ramparts, but she chooses to wait and become a captive. She is assigned to Achilles as part of his prize for what he has achieved in battle.

Her life radically changes as she becomes concubine and house servant.

The story explores what happens to women as they become trophies of war, at the same as combining Briseis' story with the legends of Achilles as we know them from Homer's Iliad.

My rating: 4.4

I have previously read


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