cover image A Thousand Ships

A Thousand Ships

Natalie Haynes. Harper, $27.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-306539-0

The women of the Trojan War take center stage in this excellent take on the Greek classics from Haynes (The Ancient Guide to Modern Life). Hopping through nearly a dozen perspectives, Haynes provides an enthralling reimagining of the lives of women from both Troy and Greek culture. There is Calliope, the muse who resents the poets demanding she supply them with inspiration; Andromache, who goes from princess to spoil of war when her husband, Hector, is killed by Achilles; and Penelope, who writes biting letters to Odysseus, asking him why it is that he doesn’t feel any urge to come home to her and their son. There are also the royal heroines, such as Clytemnestra, who seeks revenge against Agamemnon for sacrificing their daughter; and Helen, who is weary of being constantly blamed for her role in beginning the war and for plots and prophecies she has no power to stop. Cassandra, cursed with prophesies no one will ever believe, struggles to function when she knows exactly what will become of her and her family after the war. Haynes shines by twisting common perceptions of the Trojan War and its aftermath in order to capture the women’s experiences. Readers who enjoyed Madeline Miller’s Circe will want to take a look. (Jan.)