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.
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)
Read well but the book seems rather inconsequential. Certainly not the typical Atwood book. More like an exercise of some sort.
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.
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.
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.
A lover of good stories, and the truths they help me remember.
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.
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.
The voice of the chorus. Spot on.
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.
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!
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.
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