Books like The Penelopiad
The Trojan War from Greek mythology has been the basis for numerous films, novels, and other adaptations. Everyone is familiar with Achilles, Agamemnon, and the invasion of Troy by the Greek army where they battle the Trojan army. However, there are more to the myths than just the warriors and soldiers who are often the focus of the stories and novels. Some authors like Margaret Atwood has seized upon the opportunity to give voice to all the women who played an equally important role in the legends. In The Penelopiad she tells the story of Penelope, cousin of Helen of Troy, who waited twenty years for her husband Odysseus to return from the Trojan War. The story expands more on what happened to Penelope and her maids during this time. For more novels about the Trojan legends and Greek mythology written from a female perspective check out the following books like The Penelopiad
by Pat Barker
In contrast to the glamor and praise that often accompanies the military elements of the Trojan War, The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker instead focuses on women's experiences. The protagonist of the tale is Briseis who was married to the king of Lyrnessus. The book opens with the city being looted and burned by Achilles and the Greeks. Briseis and the other women are abducted, with her awarded to Achilles because of her royalty. The book also covers the events of the Iliad in which Briseis played an important role that is often overlooked in other novels. What makes this book unique is that Briseis is virtually silent for the entire story, with most of the narrative being internal, hence the title.
by Madeline Miller
Circe is the second novel by Madeline Miller and the story follows the perspective of Circe. She was born as the daughter of Helios, the mightiest of the Titans. However, she is nothing like her powerful and terrible father or gorgeous and mercenary mother, which results in her being scorned and rejected. Circe does have the dark power of witchcraft, but this causes her to be banished to the island of Aiaia when she uses her gift on the nymph Scylla and the gods begin to see her as a threat. It is here while honing her occult craft that she encounters Odysseus for the first time and shows him mercy. Circe is a fresh spin on a classic tale that even those who know nothing about Greek mythology can enjoy it.
by Natalie Haynes
A Thousand Ships is a 2019 novel by Natalie Haynes that features an all-female retelling of the story of the Trojan War. Rather than focus on a single protagonist, the author uses a first and third-person perspective for all of the women who were involved with the Iliad and Odyssey. It is also not just the major characters who get a turn, but also plenty of lesser-known ones who finally get a chance to shine. From Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, to Andromache, the widow of Prince Hector and others like Penelope, Cassandra, and Penthisilea, the story is brilliantly told. Seeing everything unfold from the feminine perspective of everyone from mortals, and queens to goddesses ensure that the well-known tale of the Trojan War stays fresh and interesting.
by Emily Hauser
In her novel For The Most Beautiful, author Emily Hauser explores the "hidden" tale of the Trojan War through the eyes of her female characters. It is the untold story of Krisayis and Briseis. One is the daughter of the Trojan's High Priest and the other is the princess of Pedasus. In most versions of the classic tale, these two women were commonly just seen as trophies of the war, but this book explores their lives and how much they lose due to the folly of others. However, throughout it all, they remain strong and resourceful even as the gods continue to meddle in the affairs of mortals.
by Sarah B. Franklin
Daughter of Troy by Sarah B. Franklin is another novel that casts Briseis, the rightful-born queen of Lyrnessos in the lead. After watching helplessly as her husband and brothers are killed by the invading army of King Agamemnon she is taken as a slave by the Greeks. Even though she ends up as the prize of Achilles the Greek hero ends up falling in love with her and promising that she would rule Thessaly by his side as queen instead of a captive. However, not only are their deities who want to prevent this from ever happening, but also a jealous king standing in their way. The fact that most of the book focuses on Briseis's life before the start of the Trojan war also gives it a different feel than other novels about the war.
by Esther Friesner
Nobody's Princess by Esther Friesner is aimed more at younger readers who may not necessarily be fans of Greek mythology, but it is still a riveting tale. The protagonist is Helen, one of the most famous women of the Trojan War, but she chafes at the confines of being a beautiful princess, loyal daughter, and perfect bride. Instead, Helen yearns for adventure, which causes her to set out to see the world for herself. Her determination to seek out her own destiny causes her to make some enemies along the way, but Helen also encounters a few unexpected allies in her quest. For an interesting book about Helen before she became known as Helen of Troy, this is a good read.