The Silence of the Girls is the story of Achilles and Briseis; a tale first told in The Iliad. For the most part, Briseis is the narrator describing how after her Trojan family was murdered by the Greeks, she was given to Achilles as his slave/concubine. Although she was from a royal family, Briseis, like all the Trojan women and girls who are captured, must carry out any tasks their captors ask them to do. The focus of the novel is Briseis’ relationship with Achilles and Patroclus and the plight of these Trojan women.
Pat Barker, winner of The Man Booker Award, is a fine writer. She vividly describes the last years of The Trojan War, portrays the main characters, especially Achilles, as complex, realistic individuals, and makes her readers empathize with how the women of Troy were treated.