When I was about 6 years old, I heard the name “Helen of troy” for the first time. My young brain understood that Helen was a name, but I was utterly bewildered at the presence of “of Troy” in a name. That was particularly peculiar to me. My rather inquisitive mind drove me to ask my aunt what “of Troy” meant. To clarify the point, my aunt told me the first version I heard of the tale of “Helen”… of troy”: embodiment of the pinnacle of human beauty of all times.
“Helen was a woman of unmatched beauty of her time. She was married to a king, but was abducted by a Trojan prince. Helen’s husband managed to get her back after a war but the Trojans not accepting defeat, schemed. The walls of the city in which the king lived were well forted and the Trojans could not get in. The Trojans gifted a big wooden horse as big as two houses put together to Helen’s country as a token of friendship. The king accepted the gift. At night, when all people of Helen’s city were sleeping, the Trojan soldiers hiding inside the wooden horse came out and pillaged the city, and reclaimed Helen as their own. You see, in the end, Helen was won by Troy.”
That, is the shortest version of the legendary beauty’s life I had ever heard. I have seen a few movies made in her name and perhaps have read her story in a slightly greater depth in children’s books. But none has moved me to the extent has “The memoirs of Helen of Troy: A novel” by Amanda Elyot (or Leslie Carroll, whatever name you want to call her by).
From the very first page to the very last, it shows the continual metamorphosis of a legendary woman. Carroll tells the whole life of Helen of Troy in a breathtaking fashion. In Carroll’s book, Helen is not the toy of various mighty princes who, at their whim of “carnal desire” can whisk a woman’s life to whatever direction they desire. She is the portrayal of an educated woman, and in many aspects, she resembles a modern, college-educated woman. Indeed Carroll addresses this issue.
Starting from Stockholm syndrome to postpartum depression and regal politics, “The memoirs of Helen of Troy” is a rich narration of a complex life, partly verity, partly fiction.
I believe this book is a must read for every lover of historical fiction. This book effectively embodies the current state of feminist revolution. It enrobes both feminism and post-feminism, and has certainly started the cogs in my brain to look at my own life through a new window. I suggest that all women who have the opportunity read the book. It is an experience.