Silence of the Girls (Barker) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
I began to lose faith on the first page of the novel when Briseis describes the retreat of the Lyrnessus women and children, hastening from their homes to seek refuge in the citadel: "…to be walking down the street in broad daylight felt like a holiday." The jarring inauthenticity of this sentence is sadly characteristic of the novel as a whole.… Unfortunately, Barker’s voices are dissonant and unpersuasive. The girls, alas, remain silenced.
Geraldine Brooks - New York Times Book Review


An impressive feat of literary revisionism that should be on the Man Booker longlist.… Why isn’t [it]?… [T]his latest work is an impressive feat of literary revisionism that reminds us that there are as many ways to tell a story as there are people involved.… [T]his is a story about the very real cost of wars waged by men: "the brutal reality of conquest and slavery." In seeing a legend differently, Barker also makes us re-think history.
Independent (UK)
 

In The Silence of the Girls, [Barker] now gives a voice to the voiceless.… It is not generally known that the omission of Pat Barker’s Regeneration from the 1991 Booker shortlist by the all-male panel of judges was the trigger for the foundation of the Orange (now Women’s) Prize. Barker’s omission from this year’s Booker longlist is a decision equally lamentable, for The Silence of the Girls is a book that will be read in generations to come.
Amanda Craig -  Daily Telegraph (UK)


Its magnificent final section can’t help but make you reflect on the cultural underpinnings of misogyny, the women throughout history who have been told by men to forget their trauma.… You feel you are in the hands of a writer at the height of her powers, her only priority to enlarge the story.
Evening Standard (UK)


Amid the recent slew of rewritings of the great Greek myths and classics, Barker’s stands out for its force of purpose and earthy compassion.… Barker puts a searing twist on The Iliad to show us what the worst fate can be.
Times (UK)


Despite its strong narrative line and transportive scenes of ancient life, however, this novel lacks the lyrical cadences and magical intensity of Madeline Miller’s Circe…. Yet this remains a suspenseful and moving illumination of women’s fates in wartime.
Publishers Weekly


[B]rilliant, beautifully written…. Both lyrical and brutal, Barker's novel is not to savor delicately but rather to be devoured in great bloody gulps. A must read! —Jane Henriksen Baird, formerly at Anchorage P.L., AK
Library Journal


[C]ompelling…. Briseis is flawlessly drawn as Barker wisely avoids the pitfall so many authors stumble into headlong, namely, giving her an anachronistic modern feminist viewpoint…. Barker makes it all convincing and very powerful. Recommended on the highest order.”
Booklist


Barker writes 47 brisk chapters of smooth sentences; her dialogue, as usual, hums with intelligence. [But] the… prose is awkwardly thick with Briticisms…. A depiction of Achilles' endless grief for Patroclus becomes itself nearly endless.
Kirkus Reviews

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