Book – Penelopiad – The Myth Of Penelope and Odysseus
Author – Margaret Atwood
Genre – Historical Fiction
Protagonist – Penelope
The story of Penelope – as told by herself.
In The Odyssey, Penelope – daughter of King Icarius of Sparta, and the cousin of the beautiful Helen of Troy – is portrayed as the quintessential faithful wife. Atwood’s dazzling retelling of the old myth is as haunting as it is wise and compassionate, as disturbing as it is entertaining. With incomparable wit and verve, she gives the story of Penelope new life and reality.
Homer’s 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 Penelope’s parentage, her early life and marriage, and the scandalous rumours circulating about her.
I’ve chosen to give the telling of the story to Penelope and to her 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 doesn’t hold water: there are too many inconsistencies. I’ve always been haunted by the hanged maids; and, in The Penelopiad, so is Penelope herself.-from Margaret Atwood’s Introduction to The Penelopiad
Things I liked about the book– After you have read the long summary I am sure you will have really high expectations from this book . I know I did.. To some extent I liked the book , but not for the subject ( will come to that part later) , for it’s beautiful and creative narrative. Atwood can weave a story just by her wonderful prose and I realized that when I was compelled to complete this book whose subject line I had lost all interest in by the time I was half way through. But I went on just because of her style.
You must be thinking how can I praise the writing and hate the subject ? Read this book and you will get what m trying hard to convey here.
Another good thing it ends pretty fast. Small book :)
Things I disliked about the book :
Just because you are making Penelope tell her story doesn’t necessarily have to make this a thing sensational news piece and if you would have wanted to write feministic stuff then you should have tried messing with some other literature. Too preachy , too judgmental and some times , no most of the times ultra feministic. In some other context I would have totally liked a feministic subject. But I don’t like messing with classics. Period.
This is just my view and I am stating it because I am entitled to an opinion. I would definitely read another Atwood book because she is an amazing author. As for recommendations to this one. I am not so sure. May be if you don’t mind twisted tales you will have no problems with it. :)