The Silence of the Girls: A Novel
by Pat Barker
Hailed as a “feminist Iliad”, this newest novel from Pat Barker, author of the much-lauded Regeneration trilogy, has been hard to miss. In the year since its publication, it’s been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction as well as the Costa Novel Award, and has won an Indie Bookshop Week Award.
The Silence of the Girls has been recommended multiple times on Five Books—an unusual feat for a book that isn’t yet several decades (or even several hundred years) old. Choosing the novel as one of the best she’s read lately, novelist Daisy Johnson—whose book Everything Under was shortlisted for the Booker Prize—remarked, “The Silence of the Girls is a retelling of the Iliad and is entirely devastating.”
Recommendations from our site
“This book allows you to realise that one of the key issues with the classics—one of the things that we’re always fighting against—is the lack of information we have about women.” Read more...
The Best Classics Books for Teenagers
Olly Murphy, Teacher
The Silence of the Girls is a 2018 book from the English novelist Pat Barker. Much like Miller’s The Song of Achilles, Barker’s book recounts The Iliad chiefly from another perspective—that of Briseis. Sentenced to be the bed-slave of Achilles, the man who slaughtered her entire family, Briseis is stolen from Achilles by the sadistic Agamemnon. The chain of events that follows ultimately results in Achilles’ hostile exit from the Greek war effort, as chronicled in The Iliad. But although one would expect Briseis to be a central character within the epic, she seldom says more than a few words. Thus, in this modern retelling Barker gives us a new perspective on the Trojan War from a woman who has been consistently written off as a footnote within a man’s epic.
From our article Books like The Song of Achilles