The Silence of the Girls

Length: 10 hrs and 44 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,137 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A Washington Post Notable Book

One of the Best Books of the Year: NPR, The Economist, Financial Times

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 this audiobook 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. 

©2018 Pat Barker (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"The Silence of the Girls is brilliant - fascinating, riveting and blood chilling in its matter-of-fact attitude toward war and those who are its spoils. I loved the book for its craftsmanship, as well is its wonderful evocation of the ancient world and the not-so-ancient minds of the people inhabiting it." (Diana Gabaldon)

"An extraordinary novel...[and] the current debate about power and control in sexual relationships makes it a very timely one. If this doesn't make every serious literary prize shortlist, I'll be very surprised." (Alice O'Keefe, The Bookseller)

"This extraordinary collaboration between the Booker Prize-winning novelist Pat Barker and superb narrators Kristin Atherton and Michael Fox reimagines the passionate, bloody, mythic Trojan War of Homer's Iliad. Once begun, you will want to abandon everything to spend time with Fox's 'Great' Achilles (aka The Butcher) and Atherton's Briseis...This is a must-listen." (AudioFile)

Editor's Pick

An intimate retelling of The Illiad
"Barker focuses on The Illiad as experienced by the captured women, and the perspective shift is a perfect opportunity for audio; Kristin Atherton and Michael Fox’s intimate narration mirrors and reinforces the severely personal nature of this book. As a whole,The Silence of the Girls creates an experience that brings you so much closer emotionally to a story that continues to have profound influence."
Michael D., Audible Editor

What listeners say about The Silence of the Girls

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This Narrator Is A Spoken Word Goddess.

You have to listen to this. The story is great. Well-written and moving and is a good bookend to Circe, another feminist take on the old Greek tales, but seriously, the main reason for buying this is Kristin Atherton's narration. Her voice can be fierce, plaintive, sensual... Oh my God, you'll want to replay parts of this just for the way she says certain things. I would listen to her read assembly instructions from Ikea. Ms. Atherton, if you're reading this, I will pay you to record my voice mail greeting!

20 people found this helpful

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Terrific book!

I loved this book. We've all read the Iliad, but this is the story told from the females involved in the war. The book is beautifully written. The reader does a fantastic job in narration, and I felt like I was walking the journey with these women. There were intervals told me the men's point of view, and this kept the story so very real.

Probably my favorite book that I've read this year. I preordered it after reading 2 reviews from both the Wall Street Journal and again in the USA Today. Both publications stated that the book was terrific. I so agree.

18 people found this helpful

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Brilliant and haunting retelling of the Iliad

Pat Barker’s “The Silence of the Girls” is an amazing and eye-opening version of Homer’s classics (parts of it anyway). Told principally from the perspective of Briseas, a captured Trojan and now bed-slave to Achilles. I’ve long been a fan of Homer’s epic, and Barker expertly weaves a thrilling story, while deftly skewering the traditional “heroism” of the tale. Both readers are truly excellent. The separate use of Michael Fox for the Patroclus/Achilles perspectives offers an important change of tone, and he nails the balance between compassion and callousness of the characters. He brings depth and nuance to them which is important to the story. But it is Atherton who really stands out. Her voice is soft and hauntingly sad, with a flatness that perfectly conveys Briseas’s resignation to her fate and the fate of the other women and girls in the story. A brilliant performance of Barker’s terrific prose. This is an excellent story and audio book, and it offers insights into our current cultural climate.

11 people found this helpful

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Not sure

Having absolutely loved Madeline Miller's books, Circe and Song of Achilles, as well as The House of Names by Colm Toibin, I've come to seek out the retellings of Greek Myths for their power and inspiration. All, deep and satisfying for me. So, this retelling had it's moments, and I enjoyed the differences in the tales' retellings. Somehow, it never really landed for me, though. Not sure why. The view from the feminine perspective provided insights, for sure. Enjoyed the moments when Thetis shows up, too, as all the retellings have created Thetis as an intriguing Goddess.

21 people found this helpful

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Moves Along Nicely

The conquest of Troy as mainly told from Achilles' battle awarded female slave Briseis, (there are male voices and viewpoints presented). If you are a fan of Homer's Iliad this is a companion tale, it is NOT an alternative version and works well within the epic poem. The author has of course taken liberties with internal motivations that are somewhat different (or assumed) from that presented by Homer. It makes a great story more believable when you consider the emotions and wants from the vantage of the captured women.

5 people found this helpful

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interesting book

I like how it tells the story from the point of view we don't see in the original story. In the original you dont know how the women feel or suffer. This version brings all of these heart breaking to your attention and really makes you think.

4 people found this helpful

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Incredible

This book was incredible. That's the only word that comes to mind, as I'm writing this. The story weaves in and out of stories we already know from the Iliad, but in my opinion it's so much better. You fall in love with the main character as she struggles with her identity as a Trojan, and also as a slave. The way this book ended just left me in awe, this will definitely be one I'll listen to again and again.

4 people found this helpful

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It's like you can taste the sea.

The book is really something else. It transports you to another period, and it feels real enough that you can feel the ocean breeze amongst the camp. This book is not a love story, however, it's the whispered story passed from our mother's mother's from a time long ago. It's full of pain, silence, and slavery that they suffered by the hands of their captors. This is a beautifully written timepiece of their painful stories.

3 people found this helpful

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Women

It was nice to hear a different side of the story or perspective. Very well written.

2 people found this helpful

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Amazing narration!

I have read several books retelling Greek mythology in which the female perspective was primary. But Kristen Atherton made this one stand out. Not that I didn’t like the male narrator, but his voice was third person, while Kristen brought Briseis to life. Well done.

1 person found this helpful