Helen of Troy
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Helen of Troy

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  6,293 ratings  ·  619 reviews
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 beautifull...more
Paperback, 624 pages
Published August 3rd 2006 by Penguin Books (first published July 26th 2006)
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Arlene
As an avid reader, it's not very often that you come across a book that immediately finds a spot on the top shelf of your bookcase. Well, Helen of Troy has earned that right, without a doubt. This book is sheer perfection in so many ways a simple review cannot express.

The author did a beautiful job of telling the story of Helen of Sparta, later Helen of Troy from a perspective which seamlessly submerges you into the Trojan War. She weaved in all the right characters, events and emotions and wra...more
Tatiana
Sep 12, 2009 Tatiana rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in Greek mythology
Recommended to Tatiana by: Heather
Shelves: 2009, historical
I have been a fan of Greek mythology since my early childhood. However memories of it faded over last few years. "Helen of Troy" definitely revived my interest in the subject and in historical fiction in general.

There were many things that I loved about the book. The story of Helen was comprehensive and meticulously researched. I know for sure George stayed very close to the sources and the book was historically correct (well, as much as a book about mythical characters can be historically corr...more
Judith Starkston
This is one of those books I’ve been meaning to read, but didn’t get to until now, published in 2006. Here’s a somewhat meandering review, more a collection of my reactions/thoughts than a formal review. Margaret George writes historical fiction set in a number of periods from Cleopatra to Elizabeth I. I worried from a distance that someone who jumped around like that might be skimpy on the research and historical accuracy. Then I heard her speak at the Tucson Festival of Books, and I realized s...more
Janice
I have previously very much enjoyed Margaret George's novels, most specifically her work on Henry VIII, Mary, Queen of Scots and Cleopatra. But as George continues to write about famous "historical" figures the last two she has chosen live more in myth rather than actual history (Mary Magdalene and now Helen of Troy).

I couldn't feel sorry for Helen, and found it sort of cheap that the "Gods" interfered with Helen's emotions in order to make her fall in love with Paris. Previously the character'...more
TL
Jul 14, 2014 TL rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to TL by: Isis
*I don't know too much about the myth of Troy, just some stuff so bear with me*

A wonderful novel of Helen and the Trojan War... everything was brought to life beautifully, I felt like I was walking the streets of Sparta and Troy. Miss George's writing was amazing, very rich and beautifully detailed. The pages fly by very quickly, even though this isn't a fast read.

Helen and Paris' falling in love... happened a bit quickly for my taste and I had trouble believing their love for most of the book...more
Lisa
I love Greek mythology and think the fall of Troy is easily one of the most powerful myths around. Prior to reading this I would never have believed that anyone could tell it in such a way as to make it utterly boring, but sadly Margaret George has proved me wrong.

Telling the story of Helen of Troy, the face that started it all, it's clear that Ms George put in rather a lot of research. It's just a shame that, while remembering to add in details like what sort of cups people might have drunk fro...more
Colleen Oakes
Last year, a friend recommended the book Gone with the Wind. I balked at the idea, at the mere size of it. But I read it, because I trust her book choices with every fiber of my being. And I loved it. Never had I read a single book that was as epic, as sweeping, as Gone with the Wind. Until now. My blogger friend Ashley gave it a phenomenal review, and it turns out that Helen of Troy had been sitting in my bookcase all this time. I had bought it at a used bookstore about two years ago. WEIRD! Ba...more
Isis
In Helen of Troy, George loses none of her deft story-telling touch. Reading this book, or indeed any book by George, one can feel almost as something palpable that this story is truly woven – a rich tale of many complex strands woven expertly together by George’s pen. What a joy! There’s something gloriously gluttonous about curling up with a book like that and a mug of hot chocolate of a cold winter’s evening and losing yourself for hours. Mind you, I read Helen of Troy whilst ensconced in the...more
Sara
Homer gaves us the story of the end of the Trojan War and the great tale of what happened to the Odyssey when it lost its way. There are numerous tales of the greatest warriors that fought the war and endless stories of the watching gods. Margaret George tells a different story. It is the story of Helen and how she went from being Helen, Queen of Sparta to Helen of Troy. And the story is told through her eyes. From her childhood when she strained against her restraints and resented the fact that...more
scissorstoariadne
Greek mythology, or mythology, in general, is and will always be one of my great loves. (I say this at the risk of sounding completely demented) The story of Helen and the fall of Troy was never my most favourite myth but recently, I started to gravitate towards it and am very fascinated with many of the secondary characters involved. I was pleased to read that George had included them with sufficient backstory: Cassandra, Clytemnestra, Aphrodite, Athena, Electra, and Orestes.

What was really en...more
Heather
As a lover of Greek mythology, my interests were piqued by the title alone. And as someone who has always thought of Paris as a petulant child and Helen a victim of kidnapping and rape, I was interested to read George's slant on the events that transpired between the Trojan Prince and the Spartan Queen. I was dazzled.

Helen's air headed tendencies aside, I found myself sympathizing with her more than once. She is most certainly a flawed character, but I found her humanity and tenacious spirit co...more
Marissa Joyce
It was a good book, but I found Helen's character to be petulant and frankly, annoying. Perhaps this is my own pet peeve, but I found Helen's attempts to externalize the blame and repercussions of her own actions on the gods to be really tiresome- especially after 600 pages.
However, the characters were well developed, the splotseemed to stick to the historical data, and the storyline moved along at a quick pace. I enjoyed reading the novel, but I think I may have liked it more if Helen had been...more
Rebecca Huston
Jul 19, 2012 Rebecca Huston rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one!
One of the most boring, badly written, snooze-inducing novels that I have ever waded through. Here, Margaret George takes on the Iliad and reduces it into cheap trash. Helen is a sluttish, boring, one note, and no one else really rises up to the material, with the possible exception of Odysseus. Be smart, stick with the original, preferably Robert Fagle's recent translations. Not worth the time or money.

For the longer review, please go here:
http://www.epinions.com/review/Book_H...
Sarenna
I have two major requirements for historical fiction:

1. I have to be able to easily suspend disbelief.

2. It needs to spark some kind of an interest for me to do some outside research on the time period.

Check and check.

This book started off slow, but towards the ending (especially the description of the war) I felt like I was flying through the 600+ pages of this book. While I thought the author's choice to have Helen remote view the battle scenes was somewhat cheesy, the actual descriptions were...more
Karen
What an entertaining version of the story of the Trojan War! This book is written in first person and Helen is narrating the story of her life. She is a very caring, sympathetic and innocent character in this book because we are hearing the story from her side. The writing is so fantastic you are immediately pulled in and can’t wait to read more to see what happens (even though you know the end of the story).

Helen is raised as a very sheltered young girl and is forbidden to use a mirror lest she...more
Karen
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 re-tellings 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, w...more
Emily
This is my second Margaret George book and I usually don't like my second read from author as much as I like the first book I read by them. I have to say that I loved this book as much if not more as my first George book, Cleopatra. This was very well done and makes memories of high school headaches from reading the Iliad and the Odyssey not so horrible.

George does a great job taking the story of the fall of Troy and the events leading up to it and making them enjoyable to read. I love they way...more
Zulfiya
This book is a beautiful example of historical FICTION. I boldly capitalize the word ‘fiction’ because the original story of Troy and its long siege per se is a fictitious yarn, loosely based on events whose historicity has yet to be fully proven. The famous narrative ‘Iliad’ has become the intrinsic part of human cultural heritage and in its turn has given birth to a number of artistic interpretations. Most of the spin-offs (novels, paintings, poems, movies, plays) mainly tell the story of warr...more
Regina Lindsey
"Was this face that launched a thousand ships?" (Dr. Faustus, Christopher Marlowe). Ah, the enigma of Helen of Troy. The men of ancient times are as captivated by Helen as we are today. Helen of Troy has been portrayed in many different lights and from many different angles. George chooses to paint a picture of an overly protected, naiive woman who's fate was simply a toy to Aphrodite.

I struggeld with what to rate it. I really enjoyed The Memoirs of Cleopatra, as it gripped me from page one. I...more
Chloe
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sherry
It's not like we don't know what's going to happen: Menelaus, Paris, Troy, the horse. It's in the how and the why that Margaret George spins an engrossing tale. What is it like to have "the face that launched a thousand ships"? To be perhaps the most famous adultress in history? To be a "survivor" (as Hector calls Helen) in the midst of terrible destruction? Homer leaves much about Helen to be read between the lines, and Margaret George takes up the challenge. She imagines a Helen who is compete...more
DeAnna
I finally conquered Troy!


Yesterday, before I read the last page of the book and the afterwords by the author, I was ready to rant and rave about how selfish and vapid Helen was and how ridiculous everyone seemed with their claims of seeing the future and being visited by gods every other day....then I learned that it's a good possibility that she never existed and is simply a myth. How can I get self-righteous with a myth?

But seriously, I couldn't feel any sympathy for Helen and Paris. They shou...more
Jocelyn
Okay, Margaret George is an extremely "wordy" author. She likes adjectives and she likes to use them a lot. I am a simple woman, if the day is hot then I don't want to hear about how the sweat drops slide down your face.
Also, I think she got bored in the last 100 pages because Helen just kind of summarizes things and then the book is over.
Also, I hate Helen of Troy. If I was to write a fiction book about a fiction woman I would make Helen of Troy a power house. I don't CARE that Homer didn't wri...more
GeekChick
Oct 25, 2007 GeekChick rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the topic
I had high expectations, having enjoyed George's Cleopatra book so much. This book didn't quite hit the same mark, but it was still a good read. George did a good job of creating a 'real' background for this most famous myth. It was hard, though, not to imagine Brad Pitt as Achilles as I read!

As always, George's historical details are accurate. Of course, there is much debate around this tale, but wherever possible George's portrayal concurs with the prevailing academic theories.
Anna
Wow, this was a LONG book. And yet, I must have liked it as I continued to the very end.

The story is packed with many characters whose names are familiar: Hector, Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, King Priam, and of course the notorious Helen. There was also a medley of meddlesome, petulant gods who formed part of the action; I did find this rather jarring, but I suppose it fits in with the characters believing that the pantheon of gods really did guide the actions of the mortals, and curses over a famil...more
Mike
Although I stuck with it (600 pages!)--- and it wasn’t horrible --- this book was a disappointment. Not that long ago I read the same author’s “Elizabeth I” --- historical fiction that impressed me and made me want to read more of her work. The major problem here is that this is not historical fiction. This novel is based on legend and mythology rather than events that actually happened. Yes, the author did a lot of research, and it’s a tribute to her invention and imagination that she created a...more
Lady
I hoped that this would be an intriguing story that adds new depth to the characters and machinations of the Trojan War; that it would take what we already knew and make it interesting, give it depth and conflict and emotion so that it was still interesting. But I didn't feel that Margaret George did that at all.

Since Helen of Troy is written from the first person point of view of Helen, she needed to be a compelling woman of intelligence and strength and force of will caught in the tides of lo...more
Nancy
Ok, I must be dumb, because I didn't realize Troy wasn't a real place until I read the afterward. I knew all the stories and such were made up, but I figured the place was real. According to the afterward - nope. And Helen never existed, either. I figured she was a real person, but they just made up all the stories. That's what old, dead poets do, right?

Anyway....I really enjoyed the book. Helen, Zues's only daughter, is the most beautiful women in the world. But she apparently has a cheating ge...more
Michele
Sep 11, 2008 Michele rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who have some Greek mythology background
Remember your college Greek mythology classes? If your memory is a little fuzzy, it will all come flooding back to you when you read Margaret George's Helen of Troy. Ms. George recreates the story from Helen's point of view and beginning with Helen's childhood, she paints a fairly vivid picture of Helen's family, her home of Sparta, and the circumstances that led to her sad marriage to Menelaus. When Paris enters the picture, as I'm sure you remember, it's pretty much game-over and the beautiful...more
Eri-chan
May 20, 2008 Eri-chan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers looking for slightly mindless entertainment, mythology enthusiasts
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed "Memoirs of Cleopatra" earlier this year, I expected to have a similar experience with "Helen of Troy", Sadly, not so. Where Memoirs really grabbed and held me from beginning to end, it seemed that Margaret George couldn't quite pick a pace or a direction for Helen, making for a mildly frustrating read with definite high points and low points. This is especially bizarre, as Memoirs was apparently published so many years before Helen.

The novel endeavours to rete...more
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Sympathy? 7 68 Jun 11, 2014 11:01AM  
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Margaret George is a rolling stone who has lived in many places, beginning her traveling at the age of four when her father joined the U.S. diplomatic service and was posted to a consulate in Taiwan. The family traveled on a freighter named after Ulysses' son Telemachus that took thirty days to reach Taiwan, where they spent two years. Following that they lived in Tel Aviv (right after the 1948 wa...more
More about Margaret George...
The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers Memoirs of Cleopatra Mary Queen of Scotland & The Isles Mary, Called Magdalene Elizabeth I

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