Review: A Thousand Ships, by Natalie Haynes

a thousand ships natalie haynesRating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Greek Myth Retelling

Goodreads

A Thousand Ships is a retelling of the Odyssey through the eyes of the women. The narrators are, ostensibly, Muses to whom a poet prays for inspiration. But each character gets their own chance to narrate, and stories that should not have been forgotten, are finally told.

This was so enchanting, beautiful and I devoured it in two sittings. A Thousand Ships is exactly what I hoped The Silence of the Girls would have been, and I am pleased that, despite my initial hesitation towards this book, it surprised me with how good it is!

I have one issue with it, which how the book treats Helen of Troy, who every character seems to despise but be entranced by – I understand why it’s done this way and it makes perfect sense within the context of the time and such, but I do wish she had gotten a few chapters of her own. I admire her so much , such a powerful character who got blamed far too much for the folly of men. Hence the 4-star rating instead of 5.

Otherwise, this was such a perfect read: it had the feeling of myth, it was touching, heartbreaking, sad but also witty and brave. I am partial to a story with petty gods and nymphs and adventure, but this is truly a wonderful book. You get really invested in each character’s story, which isn’t an easy thing to do when some characters get all but one chapter. I realize I’m babbling at this point, but this is SO good, if you, like me, read Circe by Madeline Miller and wish there was another book you could pick up that gave you that same dreamy feel that many of us get reading Greek myths BUT focusing on the women instead of the stubborn, fame-craving men, I highly recommend this one!

17 thoughts on “Review: A Thousand Ships, by Natalie Haynes

  1. Great review! I am glad you liked this so much! Some chapters worked better than others for me, but the ones that worked REALLY worked (the end of the Clytemnestra chapter had me ugly crying on my balcony hahah). And YES, I wish there had been a Helen chapter too! Even though she defends herself to Hecabe, a full chapter where she gets to tell her side of the story would have been even better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I agree some chapters are much better than others – the Clytemnestra chapters are AMAZING. Yes, Helen’s defense to Hecabe was such a highlight of the book for me – especially when Hecabe realizes she’s partially to blame, too. But it would have been such a statement to give her her own chapter. Even the Muses sounded annoyed with her and I just didn’t like that. I also loved how sassy Penelope was, although I kinda had hoped she’d take some sort of revenge on Odysseus at the end?? Like, a petty revenge. xD

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re right, it was weird that even the muses were annoyed with Helen! Especially since Calliope is trying to show the bard every woman’s perspective!! And that would have been amazing if Penelope had taken some kind of revenge on Odysseus at the end!

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  2. Great review, I’m so glad you ended up loving this one! And I completely agree re: Helen having her own chapters- I thought her dialogue with the other women was so interesting and she could’ve had such an interesting perspective, it’s too bad we didn’t get to see it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes. At least they gave her a chance to reply, and we see how actually she didn’t even deserve to be blamed (that much, at least). But she had such power, I would have loved to see it in a full chapter.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I read it, yes! I was a bit lukewarm about Silence of the Girls, honestly, because I wanted a bit more of the voice of the women – and I felt that A Thousand Ships did just that, so I liked it more. I am curious to see what you think of it, should you decide to pick it up! I think reviews are indeed divided, so it’s hard to guess how you’ll like it… but I sure hope you do!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s fair. I went in with kind of low expectations about Silence of the Girls and then was blown away by how much I enjoyed it. I think I will try and read A Thousand Ships though as far as I can find it’s not yet available in Canada so it might be a while.

        Liked by 1 person

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