Helen of Troy

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Overview

The New York Times bestseller from Margaret George, author of Mary, Called Magdalene and Elizabeth I

With her amazing ability to summon the voices of historical characters, Margaret George tells the story of the woman whose face "launched a thousand ships" in Helen of Troy. Laden with doom, yet surprising in its moments of innocence and beauty, this is a beautifully told story of a legendary woman and her times. An exquisite page-turner with a cast of irresistible ...

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2006 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 624 p. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

The New York Times bestseller from Margaret George, author of Mary, Called Magdalene and Elizabeth I

With her amazing ability to summon the voices of historical characters, Margaret George tells the story of the woman whose face "launched a thousand ships" in Helen of Troy. Laden with doom, yet surprising in its moments of innocence and beauty, this is a beautifully told story of a legendary woman and her times. An exquisite page-turner with a cast of irresistible characters—Odysseus, Hector, Achilles, Priam, Clytemnestra, Agamemnon, as well as Helen and Paris themselves—and a wealth of material that reproduces the Age of Bronze in all its glory, Helen of Troy brings to life a war that we have all learned about but never before experienced.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
"The face that launched a thousand ships" usually defies the best talents of novelists. Bestriding history and myth, Helen of Troy is a difficult study in fiction. Margaret George succeeds where others have failed by grounding her epic Homeric story in the history of Mycenaean culture. This eponymous novel follows the legendary beauty as she tempts fate with her heartfelt decisions. A powerful story, well told.
People
Delicious.
Chicago Tribune
A feast ... George leaves us with the most coveted prize of fiction: a world ... we wished existed, and that thoroughly does between the covers.
The Washington Post
Fresh and vivid.
The Dallas Morning News
What Ms. George has created with this book is a great summer read: realistic characters, engaging plots and enough mythology and Homer to make it all interesting.
author of Outlander Diana Gabaldon
An impressive feat of research and imagination. It's no mean trick to resurrect not only ancient Attic politics and lifestyles, but the atmosphere of a time in which the gods truly spoke. (Diana Gabaldon, author of Outlander)
Publishers Weekly
George (Mary, Called Magdalene) depicts with bravado, grace and eloquence the grand spectacle surrounding Helen of Troy. The author's research into Mycenaean culture, coupled with Trojan War mythology's larger-than-life heroes, enliven a bold story pulsing with romance and sacrifice, omens and battles. Helen's noble Spartan parents try to defy the fates when a seer foretells the tragedy Helen and her legendary beauty will cause, but, as the myth of Helen demonstrates, destiny cannot be altered. Helen's years of seclusion in Sparta lead to a frigid marriage to Menelaus before she connects with Paris, the Trojan prince with whom she forges an inextricable bond. Barely into her 20s, Helen escapes with Paris to Troy, but finds the Trojan royals welcome her with less than open arms. The mythic war, which, in less capable hands, might be over-romanticized, is portrayed with an enthusiasm that rings true to the period without verging on stagy-no small feat when dealing with such a sweeping conflict. George's extraordinary storytelling abilities shine in her portrayal of Helen as both a conflicted woman who abandoned her homeland and child for true love, and as a legendary figure whose beauty and personal choices had epic consequences. (On sale Aug. 7) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In her fifth novel, George (Mary, Called Magdalene) does for Helen of Troy what she's done for other women of greater legendary stature than historical basis, e.g., Mary Queen of Scots and Cleopatra. In explaining her approach to this book's mythical context, George writes in her author's note that there is no evidence of Helen's existence at all; even the classical references are hotly debated. She does not change the time-honored story line in any significant way, but she does make some alterations, fleshing out or adding certain incidents for the sake of pacing and character development. Another recent treatment of Helen of Troy, also written in the first person and generally sympathetic as well, is Amanda Elyot's Memoirs of Helen of Troy. The two are fine companions and are different enough to both be rewarding reads. Although each is romantic, George's book is much more so, and her ending is decidedly upbeat for a story typically treated as tragedy. This will hit the book-club circuit with promised publicity and reading guides, so buy accordingly for your audience. For all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/06.]-Mary Kay Bird-Guilliams, Wichita P.L., KS Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A spirited appendix to one of literature's greatest stories, in which the face that launched a thousand ships is supplied with a brain and a voice to match her legendary beauty. Greek tragedy warns that you should always be careful what you wish for. George (The Memoirs of Cleopatra, 1997, etc.) honors that convention here, imagining that at least part of the misery wrought by and upon Agamemnon and Menelaus owes to their juvenile longing for a new age of heroes. It's no help to their egos when Clytemnestra chimes in, "you will have to content yourself with cattle raids and minor skirmishes. That is the problem with times of peace. But who would wish it otherwise?" They would, and their time comes when Menelaus' discontented wife gets her wish and heads for Troy with a prince of the city, Paris. While appreciative of his demi-divine prize, Paris recognizes that the affair isn't such a good idea. Brilliant as well as beautiful, Helen is persuasive, though Paris convinces her to at least leave her daughter behind, saying that because she loves Sparta, she "will not leave it bereft of a queen." All that comes back into play years later, after Achilles has spent his wrath and Hector tamed his horses, after Iphigenia has been sacrificed and Troy is a heap of smoking stones. The best part of the tale lies in the shadows of which the Homeric epics hint but do not speak. The author does a fine job, for instance, of depicting the continuing fury of the curse of the Atreids, which finally resolves itself in a new era that has no room for heroes, and of imagining a sort-of-reconciled Helen and Menelaus growing old together, a "shuffling, old-person's peace-the peace that descends when all otherconcerns have either died or fled."An Olympian effort, worthy of shelving alongside Renault and Graves.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670037780
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 8/3/2006
  • Pages: 624
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.92 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret George

Margaret George is the author of the bestselling Autobiography of Henry VIII; Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles; The Memoirs of Cleopatra; Mary, Called Magdalene, and her latest New York Times bestseller, Elizabeth I.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 100 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(53)

4 Star

(26)

3 Star

(14)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 100 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2007

    Ms. Harris' Honors English

    'Helen Of Troy' was an outstanding book about the Spartan Princess, Helen. The book starts with her running away from Sparta with her lover, Paris, prince of Troy. Menelaus, her jealous ex-husband, attacks Troy a in a many years war. Finally, after many deaths of famous fighters Achilles and Paris, the smart witted Odysseus builds a wooden horse. The Spartan warriors hideaway in the horse and then sack Troy in the cover of night. In the attack all of the royal family is killed, except Helen who is taken back to Sparta. 'Helen Of Troy' was truly an literacy adventure. I would recommend this fabulous book to anyone who wants to enjoy a good read, a historical adventure, or wants to brush up on their Ancient Greek knowledge.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2008

    Great Book!

    I loved this book! It was an easy read, was a beautiful story, and was a book that I could not put down. I liked how it was a love story the whole way through. The story of what 'may' have happened between Helen, Paris, and the war between the Greeks and Trojans was believable and easy to follow.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2007

    Review of Helen of Troy

    This book Helen of Troy was outstanding! I have never been so interested in reading a book that was so long(over 600 pages). This book was different. I was interested in the book all the way through until the very end. It was very sad in some parts, but it was also happy in other parts. It is rare for me to find a very long book that I am interested in to the very end. In this book, Helen, said to be the most beautiful woman in the world, was married off to Meneleus when she was only fifteen years old. She was never really happy with Meneleus, but when she had her daughter Hermione she was able to bear with her husband for a while. Later on, when she glimpses a sight of the visiting Trojan prince Paris, she instanting falls in love with him. They then elope away to Troy. The first section of this book is mainly about Helen being in Sparta and all the events that happen in Sparta. This first section is very interesting because it is about Helen and how she was trapped behind the walls of her castle and not alowed to go into the village. This is, in a way, like a foreshadowing of her eloping with Paris because she was trapped for so long, and she wanted to be free. The second part of this book is about her life with Paris. It is also about the Trojan War, how it was started, what happened, and the outcome of the war. This book makes the reader feel like they are actually experiencing the war themselves. The descriptions of the characters in this book are very well written and clear. It makes the readers almost attached to the book because the characters seem so real.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2007

    A Must Read!

    This book was extremely amazing. Every aspect of the book sucked me in and I did not want to stop reading it. It portrayed such a great image it was like I was in the book. This book is very discripitive and is masterfully written.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2007

    BEAUTIFUL...AMAZING...COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN.

    This is the book that got me started on Margaret George. Her other books were always met with hesitation based solely on the fact of their sheer bulk (almost all approach 1000 pgs). So when I saw this relatively slim 600-page volume, AND it is one of my favorite subjects, I could not resist. So far it is my favorite of the George novels (I don't know! They're all superb!) and is by far my favorite telling of the story of troy. I would have liked to read a bit more about the myth's storyline, both before and after the time actually covered here. But otherwise I have no complaints.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 12, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting History, Terrible Novel

    There were both good and bad things about this book. For starters, it was very well researched. While reading I felt very much immersed in ancient Greek culture. The way the author portrayed ancient Greek religion was excellent. These were not just old myths and legends people found interesting to share with one another, they were actual beliefs, and the author treated them as if they were real (just as the characters would have believed). I really appreciated that. Historically, I learned a lot about the Trojan War, and the legends behind Helen of Troy.

    As well researched as this book was, however, I felt it lacking as a novel. The story was a bit dry and boring at times, there were a couple of things that I felt were left unresolved by the end of the book, and at times the dialog seemed to be extremely anachronistic. Overall, I think she would have been better off writing a text book on ancient Greece, rather than attempting to dramatize it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2008

    Best Book I Have Ever Read

    I am an avid reader and i could not put this book down once i got it! i would very highly and strongly recomend this to everyone. it was breath taking, and the author did an amazing job of keeping you on the edje of your seat

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2008

    The story of Helen and Paris come to life in this amazing book!

    I have read all of Margaret George's books and enjoyed each one, but this was my favorite. George captures the essence of life in the ancient time of the Trojan War. This book takes us on the incredible journey of Helen and Paris and the havoc they bring on their beloved city of Troy because of their passionate love affair. I was sorry to read the last page and finish this wonderful novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2007

    A unique telling of the Trojan War.

    I enjoyed the fact this novel was written from the first person point of view. It made the events that happened more personable because you were viewing them through Helen's eyes. Margaret George wove in historical details that blended perfectly with the descriptive text. This book was hard to put down due to the constant plot twists and 'drama.'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2007

    A reviewer

    Helen of Troy is the best book that I have ever read in my life. It is about a women named Helen who is the most beutiful women in the world who was married to man named Menealus. But Helen did not love him. She later on falls in love with a man named Paris he was from Troy. Helen then runs away with Paris. If you want to know more about this story you should read it. There is lots of action and love in this story. Over all Helen of Troy is a very interesting story. You can never tell what happens next. I like this story because it has some interesting fact about the Greek mythology and about there god that they served.Also, it shows some of there rituals that they did for there gods. I incourage people to read this book it has some real live things that we have today in our lives. Greek history rocks. Some of the characters in this story are people like Achillies, Hector, Priam, Paris, Helen, Odysseus, and a bunch of other Greek hero's. My favorite heroin this story is Hector because he never gave up hope for Troy,he kept on fighting till the end and that Hector loved his people very dearly. Hector is Parises brother. Crealy, Helen of Troy is a very exciting story. I'm very thankful that the arthur who is Margaret George wrote this story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2007

    Helen of Troy Review

    This book has amazing descriptions and a very thorough plot. Even though I knew what the Trojan War was, this story gave me a new aspect of perceiving through adventure with the main female character, Helen. Her life captured many diffcult situations and choices like ours. However, I didn't like reading all the battles and deaths because it was too depressing and was time consuming even though it was the Trojan War. Overall, this book revealed many puzzling topics about life and how one's journey is like.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2007

    Couldn't put it down!

    WOW! This book really captivated me. A real work of art!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2007

    Ancient Myth Comes Alive

    This is an excellent retelling of the Homeric legend of Helen, whose flight from her husband in Sparta to Troy with her lover Paris sparked a war. So many familiar names are here: Achilles, Agamemnon, Odysseus, Clytemnestra, Elekra, and many more associated with Greek tragedies and sagas. All are brought to life with their strengths and flaws, giving a human face to this story from an era lost in the mists of time. The gods show up, but subtly, in the levels of human consciousness that seek to commune with a higher power. Regrettably, their personalities are less appealing than the humans who worship them! An excellent story, that takes the reader to a long-lost time and makes it real.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2006

    Incredible!

    Once again Ms. George has not failed to disappoint. I could not put this book down..Helen's own story, in her own words. Fabulous!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2014

    Overall it is an interesting read. However, whoever proofed this

    Overall it is an interesting read. However, whoever proofed this book sucked at their job! There are too many typographical errors that detracts from the story.

    Example: Chap XLII, page 333. Paragraph 1.
    The lookouts, both young soldiers posted at Sigeum and Aesyete's tomb, stepped forward. "We think, sir, that there are more than seventy-five hundred (7500) ships but possibly fewer than a thousand (1000). So let us take five hundred (500) as an estimate.")

    Can someone please elaborate? Exactly how can there be more than 7500 ships but possibly fewer than 1000? Then they estimate at 500 ships. Am I not getting this? Did they mean to write 750 ships instead of 7500?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2014

    Love it!

    Love this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2013

    A Good ¿ But Not Great ¿ Book by Margaret George.  Although

    A Good – But Not Great – Book by Margaret George. 




    Although this latest historical fiction novel by Margaret George is not quite up to her first two efforts, “The Autobiography of Henry VIII” and “The Memoirs of Cleopatra,” she still does a very good job of making the mythical figure of Helen of Troy into a real, flesh-and-blood woman of her time that we can identify with.




    Unlike other fictional retellings of Helen’s story which portray her as selfish and conceited or a vapid non-entity, George does her best to make Helen a sympathetic figure, who is torn about leaving her husband and child for Paris and tries to avert the war between the Trojans and Greeks that results from their actions. 




    Although George firmly grounds her characters in the Mycenaean Greek culture that was the actual setting in which the Trojan War supposedly took place and portrays them as real people, she also includes the influences of the mythological gods that the people of this time believed in and who supposedly controlled their destiny. 




    This continual referral to Zeus, Aphrodite, and Persephone and their control over Helen’s actions sometimes seems out-of-place with the realistic tone that mainly characterizes George’s narrative.  Also, since Helen was basically an observer rather than a direct participant in some of the famous scenes of the Trojan War, George has also given her supernatural gifts of “foresight” and out-of-body experiences so that she can tell us of scenes that she could not have physically witnessed. This also mars the realistic treatment of this story. Cleopatra also believed in the influence of her gods, but when reading George’s portrayal of her I never once felt that she was manipulated by them. George’s Cleopatra, unlike her Helen of Troy, was always firmly in control of her own actions and destiny.




    However, since the whole concept of Helen of Troy and the Trojan War is mythical and not authenticated historical fact, I suppose I can’t quibble too much about George choosing to inject elements of fantasy into her usual realistic interpretation. She still wrote a novel good enough to keep me reading to the end.

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  • Posted February 7, 2013

    One of the best books I've ever read. I'm a harsh critic because

    One of the best books I've ever read. I'm a harsh critic because I studied Classical humanities in college, but the author did an amazing job of making mythological people seem real. I dreamed about it, I thought about it when I wasn't reading it, and cried at the very end because it was so touching.. Beautifully written, and with great attention to detail. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2013

    Wonderful

    I cried for about 20 minutes!

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  • Posted February 22, 2012

    Okay

    I have read most of Margaret Goeorge's books. This was my least favorite. I never became fond of Helen, which I think is important. And didn't really think Paris' character was developed enough. It's a good perspective; just not my favorite.

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