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Summary

Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2020

 One of the Guardian's and TLS's 'Best Books of 2019'   

In A Thousand Ships, broadcaster and classicist Natalie Haynes retells the story of the Trojan War from an all-female perspective, for fans of Madeline Miller and Pat Barker.

This was never the story of one woman, or two. It was the story of them all....

In the middle of the night, a woman wakes to find her beloved city engulfed in flames. Ten seemingly endless years of conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans are over. Troy has fallen. 

From the Trojan women whose fates now lie in the hands of the Greeks, to the Amazon princess who fought Achilles on their behalf, to Penelope awaiting the return of Odysseus, to the three goddesses whose feud started it all, these are the stories of the women embroiled in the legendary war. 

Powerfully told from an all-female perspective, in A Thousand Ships Natalie Haynes puts the women, girls and goddesses at the centre of the story.

©2019 Natalie Haynes (P)2019 Macmillan Digital Audio

Critic reviews

"A gripping feminist masterpiece." (Deborah Frances-White)

What listeners say about A Thousand Ships

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Disappointing

The first thing that struck me about this audiobook was the narrator: flat and lacking the ability to bring the words to life. Then I realised that the book is narrated by the author. Perhaps I might have enjoyed it more if a professional narrator had been employed, and there are many good ones, and it is a specific skill that the author clearly does not possess. The second element to this book was the disappointing embodiment of the events well-know through classical literature. Having listened to 'The Silence of the Girls' this contrast was particularly stark; that book had chosen the narrative flow of the war as retold from one woman's perspective (and secondarily another man's). THIS book jumps around from multiple women's perceptive over time and completely loses the flow. The characters are thin and caricatured feminine stereotypes in their perspectives: Penelope is the worst of these...her nagging retelling or the story of Odysseus to the man himself through letters was nothing short of annoying.

12 people found this helpful

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Good story but poorly narrated

This is very similar in tone and story to ‘The Silence of the Girls, by Pat Barker. It’s not as good as Bsrker’s telling of the fall if Troy. But still interesting. I found the authors narration very flat, toneless. It did nothing to bring the story to life. So, a good book, but should have been spoken by an actor to bring all the different women to life.

12 people found this helpful

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An interesting retelling of a story we know so well

I had been waiting for this to be released and it was worth the wait! The chapter format of being from a different perspective for each one took a little to get into but once you do there is no looking back. I wish we could have had a few more the characters tell the story in first person! I am really enjoying the current trend of retelling Greek myths and this was an interesting take on a story (the fall of Troy) which we know. Would recommend anyone who was a fan of Circe and The Silence of Girls to give it a read/listen.

11 people found this helpful

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Ancient Greek Women Brought to Life

I loved the idea behind this book, to bring the women of Greek epic poetry into the light. And I loved the writing. Unfortunately I struggled a bit with the narration and felt there was not enough light and shade and not enough differentiation between the characters. Even so I would recommend this audiobook for the writing and for the breadth of knowledge of antique poetry

7 people found this helpful

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Great story written with knowledge.

I heard this book discussed on Woman's Hour. really glad I gave it a try, can be listened to story by story or as a long listen. brings the time and the people to life, even if ancient greece is not your thing.

5 people found this helpful

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Absolutely wonderful

I'm so glad Natalie choose to read this herself because the narration is fabulous. I have enjoyed this every bit as much as I've ever enjoyed anything and as much as I've always enjoyed everything Natalie Haynes has done. Wonderful work by (in my opinion) an under rated star.

5 people found this helpful

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I have waited for this book for years

I preface this review by admitting I have a degree in Classics. Whilst I am a Roman person at heart, not a Greek, I absolutely loved this book! It spoke to me in a way that no other book has for years. When it finished I immediately wanted to start it again. The story and the narration were perfect. If you ever wondered what happened to the women affected by the Trojan War then this is the book for you. I always liked Penelope, now I love her - her voice and increasing annoyance are so modern but also so true, and don’t get me started on the Muse! All of the characters had their own distinct voices and you could understand their view point - even Helen. This is not a sentimental book, but a wonderful honest imagining of how each of the women may have been affected by the war. Thank you Natalie Haynes for writing this book for me!

5 people found this helpful

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Absolutely loved it!

It is so refreshing to hear the stories from a women's perspective, both the more well known and the more invented flowed together brilliantly.

4 people found this helpful

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Breathtaking and heartbreaking

I wanted to use every free moment that I had listening to this audiobook. A tremendous and courageous recuperation of women’s lives from classical literary history, especially from the works of Homer, Euripides, Aeschylus and others. The book is composed of multiple short stories, each told from the perspective of the women involved in the Trojan War (even remotely and by association). My heart broke to hear the moving imagined testimonies of Iphigenia, Cassandra, Penthesilea, Laodamia and Andromache, among others. Natalie Haynes does brilliant and important work here, that much is doubtless, but she also weaves together a compelling, absorbing, fascinating and inspirational page-turner. That it’s read by Natalie herself adds a little to the magic. Natalie has such a beautiful voice. An all-round phenomenal audiobook.

3 people found this helpful

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Wonderful perspective on classic tales

I loved the subject matter and perspective but I really wish more novel would be read by actors rather than the author as better performance would really enhance the stories.

4 people found this helpful