The Penelopiad

penelopiad.jpg“He was always so plausible. Many people have believed that his version of events was the true one, give or take a few murders, a few beautiful seductresses, a few one-eyed monsters. Even I believed him, from time to time. I knew he was tricky and a liar, I just didn’t think he would play his tricks and try out his lines on me. Hadn’t I been faithful? Hadn’t I waited, and waited, and waited, despite the temptation – almost the compulsion – to do otherwise? And what did I amount to, once the official version gained ground? And edifying legend.”

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

In the classic story of The Odyssey the hero travels to faraway lands, battles monsters and has incredible adventures while his wife stays home and waits for him patiently. Now in Margaret Atwood’s modern tale Penelope finally gets a voice and tells the reader what really happened all those years Odysseus was gone.

From the depths of Hades, Penelope recounts what her life was like as she grew up. We find out that Penelope didn’t harbor much good will towards her beautiful cousin, Helen, and that she wasn’t just a loving and patient wife waiting for Odysseus. She resented having to wait and to top it off she also has to keep the hundred suitors at bay and maintain watch over Ithaca.

Penelope here is shown as a clever and sensible. She can be daring when speaking about the Gods and her true feelings but there is something else that pricks at her conscience and that is the murder of her twelve young beautiful maids. The young women, who were raped by Penelope’s suitors, also have a voice in the book as their commentaries are interspersed within the narrative.

A truly wonderful book which had a good dose of humor to balance the drama and some of the more terrifying images. I honestly can’t imagine anyone else but Atwood writing this novel and she truly makes Penelope stand on her own and have her place in literature.

I read this book for Carl’s Once Upon a Time Challenge. I only signed up to read one book so that means I did complete my challenge. Thank you Carl V. for hosting the challenge again. It is always fun to participate!

Source: Personal copy

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