• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

Natalie Haynes's mythological retellings put women at the center of many scenes surrounding the Trojan War. I was highly entertained by the sometimes darkly funny, sometimes tragic A Thousand Ships.

I listened to Haynes read her highly entertaining woman-centric version of events surrounding the Trojan War.

Penelope shares her increasing annoyance at the bards' reported tales of Odysseus as he extends his outrageously complicated and indulgent travels. Cassandra's spot-on visions and helpfully specific predictions are largely dismissed and disrespected. Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena bicker and take part in petty competitions with enormous repercussions.

These are the women left behind--often women who may have been able to change the course of events if anyone had listened to them or they'd been given some semblance of power--women rolling their eyes at men's foolishness, and women terrified by their imminent sacrifice, slavery, rape, or death because their men set off to become heroes and left them alone.

“He loses his wife so he stirs up an army to bring her back to him, costing countless lives and creating countless widows, orphans and slaves. Oenone loses her husband and she raises their son. Which of those is the more heroic act?”

Haynes's women try to point out the absurdity of the Trojan Horse, they are vulnerable in order to try to save each other, and they carve out meager existences as they bide their time for revenge.

Through all of these accounts, Maynes offers often darkly funny moments and sometimes poignant scenes showing unusual perspectives and points of view. I was highly entertained throughout A Thousand Ships.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

If you enjoy retellings of mythology and you haven't yet read Madeline Miller's Circe (which I gave five stars) or Song of Achilles (which I gave four stars), you might want to add these to your list.

Are there other mythological retellings you've loved?