A THOUSAND SHIPS
by Natalie Haynes (Mantle £16.99, 368 pp)
The punishing ten-year war which resulted in the sack of Troy at the hands of the Greeks was — allegedly — brought about by Paris making off with the peerlessly beautiful helen, wife of the Greek Menelaus.
Greek mythology recounts countless exploits of the heroes, but what of the women? Of Penelope, who waited for Odysseus, or Iphigenia, slaughtered by her father Agamemnon? Or helen herself?
These fighters, wives and daughters all too often formed part of the spoils of war — their fates were often equally as brutal and violent. If they survived, it was to be faced with traumatised men.
This quietly compulsive and revisionist novel extracts these women from the shadows. ‘Their story will be told,’ declares Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, and Natalie haynes is the right author to do it.