Kyla Merwin, Communications Manager, recommends A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes.
War: Stratagems, combat, mortal wounds, loss, despair, weapons of destruction, endless days of boredom punctuated with heart-rending violence.
These are the accoutrements of the women in Natalie Haynes’ inspired re-telling of the Trojan War. Fasten your seatbelts!
You’ll meet Penelope, wife of Odysseus; Helen, bearing the face that launched a thousand ships; the Amazon princess Penthesilea; Hecabe (Hecuba), mother to Hector and Paris; Iphigenia, sacrificed by Agamemnon (uh…her father). You’ll see these heroic women, and many more, as you’ve never seen them before—with tremendous depth and emotional lives as finely wrought as the hilt of a sword.
You’ll also meet The Furies, three goddesses of vengeance and retribution; the nymph-goddess Thetis, mother of Achilles; and the bickering goddesses Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena, who fought over an apple engraved with the words, “to the fairest,” and started this whole fiasco.
A Thousand Ships takes a deep dive into the trenches of conflict—between nations, rivals, individuals, and one’s own tumultuous desires.
The author narrates the audiobook version of this title, and she is so so good – so good – that I chased her all the way into the podcast, “Natalie Haynes Stands up for the Classics.” Who knew she was a stand-up comedienne as well as a high-minded classicist and a dazzling storyteller? So, she’s brilliant, obviously, and dang bloody funny.
But back to the book.
Natalie’s rendition of the Trojan War begins as one woman wakes to an empty house in a city on fire. Troy has been betrayed and the city is being sacked by Greeks. Yes, those same Greeks who bore the gift of a Trojan horse (the fabled wooden statue hiding a pack of Greek warriors led by Achilles and Odysseus). The rest is history.
But we’re not going forward; we’re going back, to watch the ten-year war unfold through the eyes of the women who forged their own mettle and waged fierce battles with all they had to give.
Natalie Haynes weaves vivid tales of vastly different women into one beautiful, heart-breaking tapestry that redefines what it means to be thrust into the heart of war.