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The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus | [Margaret Atwood]

The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus

In Homer's account in The Odyssey, Penelope - wife of Odysseus and cousin of the beautiful Helen of Troy - is portrayed as the quintessential faithful wife, her story a salutary lesson through the ages. Left alone for 20 years when Odysseus goes off to fight in the Trojan war after the abduction of Helen, Penelope manages, in the face of scandalous rumours, to maintain the kingdom of Ithaca.
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Publisher's Summary

In Homer's account in The Odyssey, Penelope - wife of Odysseus and cousin of the beautiful Helen of Troy - is portrayed as the quintessential faithful wife, her story a salutary lesson through the ages.

Left alone for 20 years when Odysseus goes off to fight in the Trojan war after the abduction of Helen, Penelope manages, in the face of scandalous rumours, to maintain the kingdom of Ithaca, bring up her wayward son, and keep over a hundred suitors at bay, simultaneously.

When Odysseus finally comes home after enduring hardships, overcoming monsters, and sleeping with goddesses, he kills her suitors and - curiously - 12 of her maids.

In a splendid contemporary twist to the ancient story, Margaret Atwood has chosen to give the telling of it to Penelope and to her 12 hanged maids, asking, "What led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to?"

In Atwood's dazzling, playful retelling, the story becomes as wise and compassionate as it is haunting, and as wildly entertaining as it is disturbing. With wit and verve, drawing on the storytelling and poetic talent for which she herself is renowned, she gives Penelope new life and reality - and sets out to provide an answer to an ancient mystery.

©2005 Margaret Atwood; (P)2005 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (125 )
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  •  
    Vered 09-24-08
    Vered 09-24-08 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    132
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    "A good listen"

    Can't say this is Margaret Atwood at her best, but it's still an enjoyable intelligent Atwood book. Lighter than her usual writing.
    Has some feministic downfalls, but as a whole, The sarcastic view of the Odyssey makes it a fun listen.
    (Very good narration)

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Weingarten Houston, TX, United States 08-27-08
    Weingarten Houston, TX, United States 08-27-08 Member Since 2004
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    "Penelopiad"

    Read well but the book seems rather inconsequential. Certainly not the typical Atwood book. More like an exercise of some sort.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carla Lady Lake, FL, USA 10-23-09
    Carla Lady Lake, FL, USA 10-23-09 Member Since 2007
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    "Well done"

    I thoroughly enjoyed this interesting "take" on the Odyssey. The narration is truly outstanding.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Schechter Dublin, CA United States 04-03-12
    R. Schechter Dublin, CA United States 04-03-12 Member Since 2005
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    "First Rate Spoof on the Odyssey!"
    What did you love best about The Penelopiad?

    I loved the humor of this story, and the originality of a fresh perspective on the Odyssey. The author injects plenty of contemporary pop references, and adds plenty of snap to the tedious sections of the Odyssey. Anyone who has suffered through the second half of the Odyssey will love this. The narration is first class.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sioux durban, South Africa 01-02-12
    sioux durban, South Africa 01-02-12
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    "Atwood- but not at her best"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Atwood can do no wrong as far as I am concerned. Her genius is such that I'm not sure that she's really one person. Each of her novels belongs to entirely different genres and her voice can be male, female, old, young, and even not entirely human. I suspect that it may one day be revealed that she is in fact the owner of a bizarre novel-producing labour camp that enslaves writers to produce histories, romances, science-fictions and most every other kind of novel. The real question is how she manages to find and keep such a range of incredibly talented authors producing such wonderfully enjoyable tales.

    Having said this, I found the Penelopiad to be not-her-best work. I love the idea of a feminist retelling of Homer's Greek epic. I think she was true to the style and I have no doubt that someone who knows more than my smidgen of Iliad and Odyssey would enjoy multiple references that passed me by. But this novel failed to mesmerise me in the way every other Atwood novel has done. I admired it and enjoyed it but I wasn't enthralled by it.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    I think this would, if anything, make for a better movie than a book. The fantastic gods, the wild adventures - they would really lend themselves to the big screen.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brittnee Elgin, IL, United States 10-21-11
    Brittnee Elgin, IL, United States 10-21-11

    A lover of good stories, and the truths they help me remember.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An Intriguing Perspective on Greek Mythology"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, but it would depend on the friend. A fantastic story and a marvelous discourse on the roles of women in Greek Myth, but a bit inaccessible to those unfamiliar with the subject. This is top of the list to recommend to my feminist and anthropologically geared friends. Definitely not top of the list for casual readers.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The chorus of hanged maidens. I adored Atwood's inclusion of this uniquely Greek character(s). The chorus is often the voice of reason, truth, or sobriety. Their plain commentary on Penelope's situation and Odysseus' character was breathtaking, although sometimes painful.


    What about Laural Merlington’s performance did you like?

    The voice of the chorus. Spot on.


    If you could take any character from The Penelopiad out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Probably Telemachus. I've always felt so badly for him, but I'd also like to give him a bit of a talking to. It would be a moment to lend him some needed compassion and ego busting, while satisfying my maternal instincts. Bingo.


    Any additional comments?

    This is my first foray into Atwood's story telling, and I found that I quite liked it despite some less than glowing reviews. I suppose that means I'll just have to give her best hits a go!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anna Gastonia, NC, United States 12-31-10
    Anna Gastonia, NC, United States 12-31-10
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    "Strange but Interesting"

    The narrators are quite exceptional in their delivery of Penelope's point of view, and the chorus line lends the book a feature of Ulysses' own epic. However, the story looses imagination towards the end and seems to rush to conclusion instead of cultivating Penelope's actions a bit more. Overall a satisfying, and short listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-7 of 7 results
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  • Jane
    LondonUnited Kingdom
    5/20/10
    Overall
    "The Penelopiad"

    Very funny and cleverly done in the style of a Greek Tragedy - typical smart stuff from Margaret Atwood

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A User
    3/10/10
    Overall
    "PENELOPIAD"

    This is an outstanding book by an outstanding author but the narration really adds something to it, especially the songs and rhymes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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