I have long been a fan of Margaret George, enjoying her works of historical fiction including Mary Called Magdalene and The Autobiography of Henry VIII. In Helen of Troy, she tackles the life of a possible mythical personality. Did Helen of Troy actually exist? We really don’t know the answer to that question. Much has been written about the “face that launched a thousand ships,” but we know more about events that surrounded the supposed Trojan War, than we know about Helen herself.
Wrapped in Greek mythology, Margaret George set a large task for herself. Who was Helen? And how to incorporate the mythological side of her story? Since the stories surrounding the Trojan War were larger than life, George had to try to create a realistic portrayal of Helen as a woman, which was difficult, to say the least. I never did feel that drawn to her character. She didn’t evoke any feeling in me, the reader, but I did enjoy hearing George’s version of the events surrounding Helen’s fateful decision to leave her husband Menelaus and enter into a relationship with the Trojan prince, Paris.
I’m not sure if the fault was Ms. George’s. I did not connect with the characters in Song of Achilles, either. Perhaps it is too distant and the story is too detached from our own humanity. Unfortunately, it made this novel a little lackluster for me.
3 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2006