A Thousand Ships, by Natalie Haynes
Published by Picador, 14th May 2020 (first published 2nd May 2019)
Genres: Historical fiction, mythology, retellings
“When a war was ended, the men lost their lives. But the women lost everything else.”
The Trojan War and the terrible consequences of the fall of the glorious city of Troy were felt far and wide. From the goddesses of Mount Olympus to the women of Troy and the Greek women left behind. This is their story.
A remarkable retelling of an infamous moment in history, but from a completely different perspective. Earlier this year, I read The Silence of the Girls, which also tells the story of the Trojan War from a female perspective. These two books do not outshine one another, however, as they focus on different women and different time periods. I would recommend both!
One of my favourite facets of the historical fiction genre is when authors shed a light on the female perspective throughout history. This delivered in so many ways, as it focuses on so many different characters and their experiences.
I loved that each character had her own chapter(s) and her own distinct voice. For instance, it was so fitting that the chapters centred on Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, should be written as her letters to her long-awaited husband.
I wanted to share a particular passage, as it feels very poignant and rings as true in the present day, as it did in Greek mythology:
Mankind was just so impossibly heavy. There were so many of them and they showed no sign of halting their endless reproduction. Stop, she wanted to cry out, please stop. You cannot all fit on the space between the oceans, you cannot grow enough food on the land beneath the mountains. You cannot graze enough livestock on the grasses around your cities, you cannot build enough homes on the peaks of your hills. You must stop, so that I can rest beneath your ever-increasing weight.Gaia, Great Earth Mother
Isn’t that just beautiful!? It gave me goosebumps reading that because it is very easy to imagine the Earth crying out to us in that way.
This is a great book and I cannot recommend it enough.
My rating: 4/5