The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus - Margaret Atwood

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood is a retelling parts of the Odyssey myth from the perspective of Odysseus's wife, Penelope.  The author's aim is to answer two questions she had while reading the Odyssey:  what led to the handing of Penelope's 12 maids and what was Penelope really up to?

This book reminds me of the prescribed fiction we had to "dissect" in school - a teachers wet dream with all those "how do you feel about xyz" or "what did the author think" questions.  In short, I found the book boring and the interludes with the chanting maids chorus and other commentary annoying.  Penelope's story would have made an ok, if somewhat insipid, alternative retelling on it's own.  The characters are flat and I found no reason to care about Penelope or her associates at all.  The Odyssey manages to make its readers care with less information and page time.  The commentaries would have made a mediocre, and not too well researched college essay on the subject..  Together, they were just annoying.  As for providing a new perspective, this is only valid if you know nothing about Greek history or mythological tales.

 

Thank Dionysus that the book was so short!