First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
Troy has fallen, and the victorious Greeks are eager to return home with the spoils of an endless war – including the women of Troy themselves. They await a fair wind for the Aegean.
It does not come, because the gods are offended. The body of King Priam lies unburied and desecrated, and so the victors remain in suspension, camped in the shadows of the city they destroyed as the coalition that held them together begins to unravel. Old feuds resurface, and new suspicions and rivalries begin to fester.
Largely unnoticed by her captors, the onetime Trojan queen Briseis, who was formerly Achilles’s slave but now belongs to his companion Alcimus, quietly takes in these developments. She forges alliances where she can – with Priam’s aged wife, the defiant Hecuba, and with the disgraced soothsayer Calchas – all the while shrewdly seeking her path to revenge.
Happy Friday everyone! Finally, the days most of us have been looking forward to are knocking on the door. It is about time to ditch those office attires and don more comfortable articles of clothing. Over here in the Philippines, the summer is making its presence felt. The heat has been stifling these past couple of days. I can only imagine how it is going to be in the coming months. April is usually the hottest month. Anyway, I hope everyone is doing well and that they have ended the week on a high note. I hope that you were able to achieve everything you set out to achieve at the start of the week. More importantly, I hope everyone is doing well, in mind, body, and spirit. After chalking up another work week, I hope everyone gets a peaceful and restful weekend.
But before I can bid goodbye to the workweek, I am capping it with a new First Impression Friday update. Oh yes, I just realized that today is the last day of March. Woah. A quarter of the year has already been chalked up. I hope that the first three months of the year have been great. I hope that the last nine months would even be greater. I hope the rest of the year will be filled with good tidings and blessings. With March ending, so is my venture into the works of British and Irish literature, a part of the literary world I have been camping on in the past two months. I am concluding this journey with a writer whose oeuvre I recently discovered, Pat Barker’s The Women of Troy.
Actually, it was this 2021 novel that I first came across Barker. I didn’t know that she won the Booker Prize with The Ghost Road, or probably I came across this information but later on forgot about it. Anyway, The Women of Troy had many glowing reviews which made me curious. It helped that I like Greek mythology (and mythology in general). What I didn’t know back then was that it was the sequel to The Silence of the Girls. I obtained a copy of both books, with The Silence of the Girls forming part of my 2021 reading journey. It was an okay book, falling below my expectations. Despite this, I resolved to read its sequel.
The Silence of the Girls again introduces Briseis, once the queen of Lyrnessus until it was razed to the ground by Achilles during the Trojan War. With the men of Lyrnessus decimated, the women, including Briseis, were taken as war loots by the Greeks. Briseis became Achilles’ slave. This part of the story was captured in The Silence of the Girls. In The Women of Troy, Briseis is once again a seminal character. It is again her voice that forms the backbone of the story. However, her status as a slave remains unchanged. Her new master was Alcimus, to who she was entrusted by Achilles. And yes, Briseis is pregnant.
Just like in its prequel, the voice of Briseis intertwined with other voices. One prominent voice was Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles. We read about his doubts, fears, and the pressures of living up to his father’s name. One important theme, or so it appears to be, revolves around his killing of Priam, the king of Troy. It was not only Priam’s death that was contentious but also the manner he was supposed to be buried. Pyrrhus was an entirely different character compared to his father. Through him, the book explored the fragility of masculine pride. It is interesting to see how his character develops over the course of the story.
The most important voices, again, were the women. Briseis was as indomitable and tenacious as ever. She is joined by Hecuba, the domineering widow of Priam; Amina, a trusted slave; Andromache, the widow of Hector; and Cassandra, the last surviving daughter of Priam and Hecuba. The voices of women were again muted, a theme similarly tackled in the first book. Men were again the prominent voice but there were still good apples among them; Alcimus and Automedon, two of Achilles’ most trusted companions, were among them. What I am interested in the most is how the conquered and women would bond together for a common cause. Revenge seems to be an overriding theme. It is interesting to see how Briseis will rein all the women of Troy together.
There are a lot of things I am looking forward to. I am hoping to finish the book over the weekend. How about you fellow reader? What book or books are you taking with you for the weekend? I hope you get to enjoy them. Again, happy weekend everyone!