Review: Helen of Troy

Helen of Troy Helen of Troy by Margaret George

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book Origination: Purchased at local bookstore

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 Helen is spirited off to Troy, leading to the infamous Trojan War.

Peripheral characters make the novel quite enjoyable: Priam, Agamemnon, Cytemnestra, Odysseus and Hector, amongst others, all make a good showing and are quite developed, character-wise, for a novel this length. (I'm sure 638 pages seems like a lot, but for the legend this encompasses, Ms. George had to condense quite a bit here.)

Now for my reaction: I never quite developed any sympathy for Helen and Paris. Their utter selfishness came across as irritating, as opposed to uncontrollable fate. I continually felt the need to give Helen a slap and tell her to "buck up." Paris came across as immature - not a man to fall in love with, but a boy who feels entitled to whatever he wants, at any cost. The supporting cast is delightful, however, and made the story worth a read.

This isn't a so-called "heavy read" by any means. It rather strikes me as something that might be classified as a summer beach novel. Fun, but not serious historical fiction.
For those of us who are certifiably obsessed with historical fiction, this novel is a nice break from 16th and 17th Century England and if you can find a good copy at a used book store, it's worth the purchase.

Title: Helen of Troy
Author: Margaret George
ISBN: 978-0-14-303899-3 (pbk.)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publish Date: 2006


  1. I really liked this book and look forward to her the one she is working on now: the latter part of Elizabeth I's reign - should be interesting!

  2. I hadn't heard of her current one. As I recall, she takes around 5 years between books (yikes!). Have you read her Cleopatra book? If so, what did you think of that one? (Guess I should do a search of your blog for a review on that before I ask...duh). :)

  3. I read George's book on Cleopatra and liked it better than Helen of Troy. The Cleopatra book is a little overlong though.

  4. Hi Daphne - I'm glad you commented on 'Cleopatra,' because I've been digging through my shelves...I'm sure I had it at one point, but I don't remember reading it. I'll have to do a re-read, I guess, on that one. I also have her 'Mary, Queen of Scots' novel here, but as I recall I never made it through that one. I believe that one was a little "overlong" too.


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