BOOK REVIEW: NATALIE HAYNES – A THOUSAND SHIPS

Today, it’s another review of a book on this year’s Women’s Prize long-list, A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes.

Today’s review is all about Natalie Haynes’ novel, A Thousand Ships that is on this year’s Women’s Prize long-list. But before the review, what’s it about? Here’s the synopsis:

In A Thousand Ships, broadcaster and classicist Natalie Haynes retells the story of the Trojan War from an all-female perspective, for fans of Madeline Miller and Pat Barker.

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

In the middle of the night, Creusa wakes to find her beloved Troy engulfed in flames. Ten seemingly endless years of brutal conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans are over, and the Greeks are victorious. Over the next few hours, the only life she has ever known will turn to ash . . .

The devastating consequences of the fall of Troy stretch from Mount Olympus to Mount Ida, from the citadel of Troy to the distant Greek islands, and across oceans and sky in between. These are the stories of the women embroiled in that legendary war and its terrible aftermath, as well as the feud and the fatal decisions that started it all. . .

Powerfully told from an all-female perspective, A Thousand Ships gives voices to the women, girls and goddesses who, for so long, have been silent.

I’m going to be honest and say that before reading this, I knew it wasn’t the book for me and I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy it but I’m trying to read the long-list in full for this year’s Women’s Prize and I thought I would give it a go. And… this really wasn’t the book for me. I’ve never really liked this sort of book, about the Trojan War and for me, the writing just felt really annoying and quite jarring at places, too.

I don’t think it’s necessarily an awful book but not for me. I’m sure if you’re a fan of these sort of books and love to read more about the Trojan War, you’d love it. I can see what Haynes was doing with the book and why it’s on the list – it’s a feminist tale and giving women, girls and goddesses a voice – which I loved reading about but overall, it wasn’t for me. I feel that the structure didn’t work for me, either, as we went back and forth to different characters and I would have liked for it to be a bit more tighter, a bit more of a flow as it felt jarring to read at times.

There were moments, glimmers of brilliant prose that I enjoyed. Especially this quote:

Men’s deaths are epic, women’s deaths are tragic: is that it? He has misunderstood the very nature of conflict. Epic is countless tragedies, woven together. Heroes don’t become heroes without carnage, and carnage has both causes and consequences. And those don’t begin and end on a battlefield.

Overall, not the book for me but I’m glad I gave it a go. It won’t be on my personal shortlist and I don’t think it will be on the shortlist either but if you are a fan of this sort of novels and love the Trojan War but want it from a different perspective, I’m sure you’ll love this.

Have you read A Thousand Ships? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.

Thank you,

Corey.

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