After a really amazing and invigorating discussion this Saturday on Small Things Like These (so much depth for such a short book!), the Field Notes Book Group chose our book for August. It was a tough choice, and I had to be the tie-breaker, but ultimately we went with A Thousand Ships, by Natalie Haynes.
A Thousand Ships is about the Trojan War, sort of. It’s also about The Iliad, The Odyssey and a number of famous Greek tragedies about the lead up to and the aftermath of the Trojan War. It differs from those classics because this book focuses exclusively on the female characters involved in the war, on the Greek side, on the Trojan side, even on the Olympian side, giving them a voice they’ve been denied through the centuries.
Because it’s about a war and the aftermath of a war, there are dark and sad moments in it, but there’s also a certain vein of humor, especially in Penelope’s increasingly annoyed letters to Odysseus while he’s off having his adventures. The book is structured as a series of interrelated short stories, and it’s a terrific read.
Do you in fact need to be an expert on Greek mythology to enjoy this? No. You don’t even need to have read The Iliad or The Odyssey. Trust me, it will all become clear to you as you read. Of course if you are familiar with the stories in a general way, the book will be all that much more fun to read.
Copies of the book will be available at the Circulation Desk. Join us on August 20 for what promises to be an excellent discussion of a fascinating book.