Review 1711: The Women of Troy

I enjoyed very much the novel by Pat Barker that precedes this one, The Silence of the Girls. It was the story of Achilles at Troy told by Briseis, one of the women captured in the siege of Troy and the surrounding countryside. Later, though, when I read a criticism that a novel supposedly about the Trojan women was mostly about Achilles and Patroclus, I had to agree.

At first, The Women of Troy didn’t seem to have much to add. It takes up the story with the Trojan horse and the fall of Troy. Achilles’ son Pyrrhus is the focus of this novel, a young man trying to live up to his father who is very unstable. However, we do see more of the women, and besides the characters Barker has invented, we find out about Hecuba, Andromache, and Cassandra, the royal women.

link to Netgalley

Still, although I found The Women of Troy mildly interesting, I don’t think it added very much to the original story. It covers a period when the Greeks are stranded by a fierce wind on the shores of Troy so cannot go home until they bury Priam’s body and the wind breaks.

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House of Names

Day 1085: House of Names

Cover for House of NamesColm Toíbín has written some unusual novels, and such is House of Names. It is basically the Oresteia, and we can’t expect happy endings from the Ancient Greeks.

The novel begins with Clytemnestra. On his way to the Trojan War, Clytemnestra’s husband, Agamemnon, summons her and her daughter, Iphigenia, telling her that Iphigenia is to marry Achilles. But Agamemnon is lying. Iphigenia is to be sacrificed for the cause of favorable winds that will get the soldiers across the sea to Troy.

Clytemnestra despises Agamemnon for the deception and his readiness to sacrifice their daughter. She vows to murder Agamemnon when he returns from the war. To take command of the kingdom, she allies with Aegisthus, the enemy whom Agamemnon has kept captive for years. But Clytemnestra finds that she is not in charge after all.

link to NetgalleyOrestes is a boy when Iphigenia was sacrificed, but he sees what happens to her from afar. Returning home, he is imprisoned with the country’s other boys in Clytemnestra’s attempt to intimidate the villagers. But Orestes has been taken prisoner by Aegisthus. Clytemnestra did not intend him to go with the other boys.

And then there is Electra.

Beautifully written like all of Toíbín’s work, this novel is an interesting interpretation of an old legend, based on the plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripedes. It is eerie and harrowing.

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