Helen of Troy by Margaret George
Genre: Historical-fiction, Romance, Adult, DNF
Published: 2007 by Pan Publishing
Daughter of a god, wife of a king, prize of antiquitys bloodiest war, Helen of Troy has inspired artists for millennia. Now Margaret George, the highly acclaimed bestselling historical novelist, has turned her intelligent, perceptive eye to the myth that is Helen of Troy.
Margaret George breathes new life into the great Homeric tale by having Helen narrate her own story. Through her eyes and in her voice, we experience the young Helens discovery of her divine origin and her terrifying beauty. While hardly more than a girl, Helen married the remote Spartan king Menelaus and bore him a daughter. By the age of twenty, the worlds most beautiful woman was resigned to a passionless marriage until she encountered the handsome Trojan prince Paris. And once the lovers flee to Troy, war, murder, and tragedy become inevitable.
In Helen of Troy, Margaret George has captured a timeless legend in a mesmerizing tale of a woman whose life was destined to create strife and destroy civilizations.
Before we begin you may have noted I marked this book at DNF, but it stands at a crazy 700 pages and I have yet to finish such an epically long book. I am cursed, cursed I tell you. So I was trying to break it with this book and I made it past 400 pages. Unfortunately, Christmas, exams and lots of other things got in the way and I ran out of steam as well as renewal times for a library loaned book. So I can’t tell you whether I didn’t finish this one because I didn’t enjoy it because I did or if I’m lazy with big books or I just seem to have this fear of their sheer size and I cannot fathom how to finish such a book. Still, I must say Helen of Troy is not a book to dismiss just because I did not finish it.
Honestly, I don’t read that much historical-fiction for an avid history lover. I soak up all the facts and the figures and just revel in the world of the past, but I’m always a little wary of historical fiction and I just couldn’t tell you why… Maybe because I fear it will not capture the world or I just won’t get honest facts. However, Helen of Troy is about a world that may or may not have existed. It’s about a woman who has been part of Greek legends for centuries and who is the claimed daughter of a God. So much of this ‘historical-fiction’ relies on Fantasy. There is evidence today that the sight of Troy that can be found in northwest Turkey in a place called Anatolia. Still, this is not certified exactly, which is what makes this story so fascinating and gives George a huge artistic license.
I enjoyed how George slowly drew us into the world of Greece and Sparta and Troy. I loved how she revealed the characters slowly and built upon them giving them fleshed out foundations and characteristics that made them real. I adored how the developed and changed over the storyline and they evoked anger and sadness and frustration in me. Truly, the characters of Helen and Menelaus particularly came to life. Honestly I felt like Paris is a naive, silly boy who is too weak to truly fight and understand the world and this is where I began to abhor Helen for her decisions.
I am sure you all know the story of Helen of Troy in how she ran away with Paris, the Trojan prince which led to the Spartans waging war on her. George takes lots of time to unravel the story in Sparta and Helen as a child and uncovering her true heritage. I liked this touch and the links we got to her father and Zeus because they really added to the tale. I even enjoyed the journey over to Troy. Nevertheless this story had to fall flat somewhere, it is when we reach Troy and she seems to be searching for time to fill the space. I never reached the huge, colossal battle that destroys a civilization, the great Achilles and all over a woman. NEVER did I reach that in OVER 400 pages. George didn’t leave us action less, but I felt like it was dragging too much to actually reach the battle which is where my interest lost.
In some ways I wish I had preserved because I feel the battle would have again stole my attention because George wrote in a fabulous detail that managed to encapsulate every essence of Ancient Greece but stopped before you became lost in every tiny detail.
Helen of Troy is far from being a bad book, I think George takes an inventive, new approach to the tale of the famed Helen of Troy who know felt like a real person and not some absolutely stunning woman on a pedestal that has been famed. She had thoughts and feelings and she wasn’t entirely stupid. I liked Helen for most of the story until she ran off for Troy. For that, I find it hard to forgive her. However George creates a story that gives a reason and adds flavour to the previously rather vague story of Helen of Troy. I think that if George had cut the story 200, even 100 pages shorter she would have managed to keep the story with a much tighter narrative and not lost us in the mundanely-ness and politics of Troy that first occur when Helen enters which I felt too much time was spent on.
So, despite not finishing Helen of Troy for those mythology lovers and those much more ready and with much more spare time ready to take on a 700 page novel, I utterly recommend Helen of Troy. For those, like me, cursed never to finish such a long book, I’d say maybe try an audio of this book or just skip it and wallow in annoyance that you cannot finish a darn book beyond 600 pages.
~ 2.5 / 5 Books ~
The Trojan War is depicted in the Iliad written by Homer which was written quite a while after the events and is unknown whether to be truthful or largely fiction.
Heinrich Schliemann is the German man who claimed his fame in finding Troy, but in actual fact the city remains he uncovered were not Troy and whilst the place in Anatolia, Turkey, is where the city is. It was actual several layers of earth below this in which more city remains were found which are now believed to be Troy.