A Thousand Ships: A Novel - book cover
  • Publisher : Harper Perennial
  • Published : 09 Nov 2021
  • Pages : 384
  • ISBN-10 : 0063065401
  • ISBN-13 : 9780063065406
  • Language : English

A Thousand Ships: A Novel


An NPR Best Book of the Year

"Gorgeous.... With her trademark passion, wit, and fierce feminism, Natalie Haynes gives much-needed voice to the silenced women of the Trojan War."-Madeline Miller, author of Circe

Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction, a gorgeous retelling of the Trojan War from the perspectives of the many women involved in its causes and consequences-for fans of Madeline Miller.

This is the women's war, just as much as it is the men's. They have waited long enough for their turn . . .

This was never the story of one woman, or two. It was the story of them all . . .

In the middle of the night, a woman wakes to find her beloved city engulfed in flames. Ten seemingly endless years of conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans are over. Troy has fallen.

From the Trojan women whose fates now lie in the hands of the Greeks, to the Amazon princess who fought Achilles on their behalf, to Penelope awaiting the return of Odysseus, to the three goddesses whose feud started it all, these are the stories of the women whose lives, loves, and rivalries were forever altered by this long and tragic war. 

A woman's epic, powerfully imbued with new life, A Thousand Ships puts the women, girls and goddesses at the center of the Western world's great tale ever told.

Editorial Reviews

"With her trademark passion, wit, and fierce feminism, Haynes gives much-needed voice to the silenced women of the Trojan War. Her thoughtful portraits will linger with you long after the book is finished." -- Madeline Miller, author of Circe

"A Thousand Ships does more than acknowledge the suffering of women. It tells in lively fashion gripping tales of bravery, treachery and revenge. . . . It's a timely notion as the modern world reckons with who gets to tell the stories of its diverse populations." -- Washington Post

"In Natalie Haynes' own brilliant construction, the 10-year tale of the Trojan War is retold by the many women ignored, widowed, enslaved, heartbroken and snuffed out by the pride and stupidity of warring men…. A fresh and utterly satisfying feminist take on one of the oldest stories in Western literature." -- Melissa Gray, NPR Best Books of the Year

"Savvy and well plotted.… Haynes's inventiveness in conjuring the lives of Greek and Trojan women through… evocative details keeps the novel humming." -- New York Times Book Review

"Absorbing and fiercely feminist . . . this subversive re-seeing of the classics is a many-layered delight." -- Guardian

"A witty, unapologetically feminist story of women's suffering, courage, and endurance… Haynes' freshly modern version of an ancient tale is perfect for our times." -- Booklist

"An enthralling reimagining of the lives of women from both Troy and Greek culture. . . . Haynes shines by twisting common perceptions of the Trojan War and its aftermath in order to capture the women's experiences." -- Publishers Weekly

"Clever and entertaining." -- Times, UK

"Haynes is master of her trade . . . She succeeds in breathing warm life into some of our oldest stories." -- Telegraph, UK

"This lively reinvention [of the Trojan War] is worth the journey." -- Library Journal

Readers Top Reviews

This was a beautiful retelling of the Trojan war. The characters were rich and the details fleshing out a well known story were perfect. Highly recommend this one!
Michaela Lukesova
Finally a book offering a different perspective to the ancient stories full of eternal glory for the great warriors of old. Finally a book telling the stories of women left behind to whatever fate had planned for them. Amazingly written, clever, moving, real. Makes you wonder about the shortsightedness and shallowness of the values most ancient stories celebrate.
Maynes is darkly funny. Her take on the aftermath of the Trojan war from the Trojan women's perspective vividly portrays their plight. Some are as bloodthirsty as their men. Others find ways to maintain their dignity in the face of enslavement (or even sacrifice). She interweaves this main plot line with two others -- how and why the Greek gods started the Trojan War (her description of Aphrodite and men's reaction to her cracked me up), and her retelling of the lesser gods' stories were new to me. Penelope's letters to Odysseus as he fails to come home insightfully criticize his quest for (vain) glory--they simultaneously express derision with sarcastic humor, frustration, and warmth toward Odysseus. I'm definitely going to hunt up more of her books.
I am a big fan of myth retellings and this one did not disappoint, telling the stories of the women involved in the Trojan War, and largely avoiding Helen. I particularly loved Penelope's evolution through out the ten years of the Odyssey, and the Cassandra chapters, but even the lesser known characters, all had something to contribute, all added to the flip side of the narrative of the women and children who remain when the battles are won and lost.
AEDesert ArtistTaylo
This book is a dull rehash of some pivotal events from the Iliad and Odyssey ostensibly from the point of view of the female characters. In reality, it is simplistic and utterly predictable, and the female voices come across of superficial, snarky commenters on the standard narrative rather than individuals with their own experiences and perspectives. A much better, albeit still very flawed, alternative is The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker.

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