• Keely B

When you think things cannot get any worse, of course they do

Pat Barker is a master at simple descriptions which say everything you need to fire the imagination and see the worst of humanity in your mind's eye. She did it to deserved acclaim with the Regeneration trilogy and she's done it again with 'The Silence of the Girls'. And they are girls, almost all - reduced to pieces of meat and awarded as prizes to the conquering 'heroes'.

I found myself very quickly absorbed into the world of Briseis and her fate. Frustrating and at times, heart-pounding, the reader experiences her small victories and her great losses along with her and t

hey keep coming. When you think things cannot get any worse, of course they do. For me, the overriding feeling was

one of fear. The women can never relax, never be at peace, as they never knew what the next moment would bring. Agreeing with others, there is a section, heavy with emotion, towards the end of the book, that is somewhat distractingly, all told from Achilles' perspective, when the majority of the narrative has been how Briseis has perceived him and his domain. It does give an intense humanity to the character but I would say Briseis' sharp observations had been doing a very good job of this already and somehow the situation could have been manipulated to continue using her as the purveyor. This does not take away from the fact, it is a wonderful piece of storytelling - commendable in its accessibility and believability.

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