emmejo, May 3, 2010 (view all comments by emmejo)
This book is the story of Odysseus's wife, Penelope. It goes from her childhood, through the events of The Odyssey from her point of view.
Told in a mixture of songs, poems, plays and prose with a lot of flashbacks and -forwards, this book has a tendency to get disjointed. The writing is good, but very passive. It is hard to get really drawn in and it takes work to follow the storyline. The main character felt vague and distanced, it was hard to really empathize with her. She was very timid about many things and despite the fact that it is likely more historically accurate, I wanted her to grow a backbone. On the other hand she seemed to have no problem whining at the reader as a ghost about how awful her life had been and verbally attacking the people who had wronged her in her lifetime. I felt like I was dealing with a split personality here.
librarylapin, November 18, 2009 (view all comments by librarylapin)
I absolutely love Margaret Atwood's work and I love fictionalized recounting of women's stories so I was very happy to find this book. Unfortunately I was completely disappointed when I read it. Penelope seems almost shallow in this retelling with her simplistic perspective. I would expect a stronger, more potent, voice coming from Atwood. The character was very disappointing and I found the rivalry between her and Helen to be horribly stereotypical (beauty vs. intelligence). The story is fun and the poetry is wonderful so I would still recommend the read but don't expect Atwood's usually amazing quality of writing on this one.
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Maya.Brandon, January 16, 2009 (view all comments by Maya.Brandon)
Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad is a distinctly fresh revisionist telling of a classic myth. She adeptly rights the wrongs from which Pallas Athena allowed Odysseus to escape blame. The feminist spin is both truthful and pointed as well as contemporary and comical. A wonderful pleasure read!
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daniaddp, September 4, 2006 (view all comments by daniaddp)
this book was incredibaly good. I was assigned to read this book for highschool and i loved it! i could not put the book down when i started reading it. i found it so interesting how penelope lived her life. as i read i wondered what would happen next. this was a fantastic book!
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Anaya, September 1, 2006 (view all comments by Anaya)
Atwood explores the famous tale of Odysseus from the Illiad in a different perspective. Like the title hints, it is Odysseus' long-suffering wife, Penelope, that is the heroine of the novel. Should not be confused with a "chick" flik type novel. The "Penelopiad" is much more deeper on certain levels as the novel presents the story of Penelope differently, but in the similar context as we see in Homer's famous epic - just a different side of the same coin, which reminds us to inspect and research both sides of a same coin. The story embellishes a women's steadfast devotion as strength and feminizes a rather male-oriented story. A true delight and different type of Greek mythology for any fans of the historical epics and folklores.
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Homers Odyssey is not the only version of the story. Mythic material was originally oral, and also local — a myth would be told one way in one place and quite differently in another. I have drawn on material other than the Odyssey, especially for the details of Penelopes parentage, her early life and marriage, and the scandalous rumors circulating about her. Ive chosen to give the telling of the story to Penelope and to the twelve hanged maids. The maids form a chanting and singing Chorus, which focuses on two questions that must pose themselves after any close reading of the Odyssey: What led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to? The story as told in the Odyssey doesnt hold water: there are too many inconsistencies. Ive always been haunted by the hanged maids and, in The Penelopiad, so is Penelope herself.” — from Margaret Atwoods Foreword to The Penelopiad
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