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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ithaka revisited
One of the best books for mature young readers written in the last twelve months. This refreshing and refreshed classic story is told by a consummate contemporary storyteller. The gripping story of Odysseus's journey home is seen through the eyes of those left behind, Penelope and her young handmaiden, Klymene. Weariness, boredom, longing and yearning are skilfully...
Published on 30 Oct 2005

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A very poor adaptation
I have read and loved `The Odyssey' and I have read and loved Margaret Atwood's brilliant adaptation of the myth in 'The Penelopiad', both of which are fantastic pieces of literature. Unfortunately, `Ithaka' feels very much like the poor relation: it lacks the poetry and beauty of the original and the wit and courage of Atwood's version. I appreciate that this is a...
Published on 10 Aug 2010 by Katie Stevens


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ithaka revisited, 30 Oct 2005
By A Customer
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This review is from: Ithaka (Hardcover)
One of the best books for mature young readers written in the last twelve months. This refreshing and refreshed classic story is told by a consummate contemporary storyteller. The gripping story of Odysseus's journey home is seen through the eyes of those left behind, Penelope and her young handmaiden, Klymene. Weariness, boredom, longing and yearning are skilfully depicted by Adele Geras, who has a compassionate eye for the delights and turmoil of love. Even though experienced readers know the outcome of Penelope's patience, this version brings a fresh understanding and insight to what it means to be placed in sentient stasis. The earlier companion novel, 'Troy' represented a high water mark in this novelist's career but 'Ithaka' has achieved a higher standard yet.Adele Geras employs all of her sensitive emotional intellegience and provides a fresh perspective, which will appeal to those who enjoy retellings of the Greek legends, such as, 'The King must die' by Mary Renault. A truly five star novel
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too, 14 Oct 2006
By 
TeensReadToo "Eat. Drink. Read. Be Merrier." (All Over the US & Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Ithaka (Paperback)
If you've ever read the epic poem The Odyssey by Homer, you know that the author focuses on the thrilling journey of Odysseus. After the Trojan War has ended, Odysseus must battle witches, supernatural monsters, and even gods to gain back his lands and his faithful wife from the thieves that have kidnapped her. In the story of ITHAKA, the focus isn't on Odysseus, but on those that were left behind--first when he went off to war, and then when he fails to return home after the war ends.

The book is narrated by Klymene, a teenage girl who serves as handmaiden to Penelope, the wife of Odysseus. It's been two years since the Trojan War ended, and still her husband has not returned home to rule their land. There is a steady, never-ending stream of suitors vying for Penelope's hand in marriage, hoping that the (mostly) faithful wife will soon realize that her husband is gone forever. Penelope is not sought after because of love, but because of her wealth and the lands she will soon possess if she gives her husband up for dead.

For Klymene, it's difficult to fathom why Penelope is so determined to stay faithful to a husband who is most likely never to return. She soon learns about love and the matters of the heart, however, when she becomes infatuated with Odysseus's troublesome son, Telemachus. Matters are complicated even further when Klymene realizes that she, a lowly handmaiden, is not the apple of Telemachus's eye. That privilege belongs to another young woman who has come to serve in the household, Melantho.

One of the most interesting parts of ITHAKA is the paranormal aspect of Klymene, who is able to see the gods. She is also a keeper of secrets, and since she deals every day with individuals who would do anything to keep those secrets safe, it's a somewhat demanding job.

This is not a retelling of The Odyssey. This is a completely different story, full of magic and heartbreak, joy and sadness, and the trial and error of growing up. There's something for everyone here, with mystery, romance, and action-adventure. If you love historical stories, or those based on myths, you won't go wrong with ITHAKA.

[...]
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sumptuous storytelling!, 5 Jan 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: Ithaka (Hardcover)
I loved this book which brings to life the characters left behind on the island of Ithaka when those black ships sailed off to Troy. Mostly it's the story of Odysseus's family, his son Telemachus and his faithful wife, Penelope - seen though the eyes of Klymene, first Telemachus's playmate, then Penelope's handmaiden. But it's her story too. We see her growing from girl to young woman facing moral dilemnas, rapacious men, and heartbreak. Klymene is Geras's brilliant invention, a character who fits into the ancient story and makes it accessible to modern readers. It's bleak but not depressing. Read on! Emotionally involving, the story carries the reader to another world,which can be experienced through all the senses. You see hear and smell the Greek island. You see, hear and smell the characters including those capricious gods who play havoc with human lives. Sumptuous storytelling!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A very poor adaptation, 10 Aug 2010
By 
Katie Stevens "Ygraine" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Ithaka (Paperback)
I have read and loved `The Odyssey' and I have read and loved Margaret Atwood's brilliant adaptation of the myth in 'The Penelopiad', both of which are fantastic pieces of literature. Unfortunately, `Ithaka' feels very much like the poor relation: it lacks the poetry and beauty of the original and the wit and courage of Atwood's version. I appreciate that this is a young adult book, but that does not excuse its clunky prose and lack of conviction in its own story.

When a writer chooses to develop a well known myth with archetypal characters it seems that there are two ways to go: either the characters behave as they do in the original piece and the book becomes an interesting companion to that original, developing different aspects reflecting the author's own particular slant, or alternatively the author turns the characters entirely on their heads, making them interestingly different and so showing the original story in a new light. Sadly, this book seemed to waver between the two and so achieved neither aim. The whole point of Homer's Penelope is that she waits faithfully for the return of Odysseus, but this book saw her both fall in love with and repeatedly have sex with one of the suitors. I feel that this could potentially have been a very interesting development to Penelope's character (Odysseus, after all, is far from faithful to her during the same time), but instead it was inconsistent, pointless and was terribly out of place when the author returned to the original Homeric ending. It could have worked, but it didn't.

Odysseus, when he eventually appeared, was equally unsatisfying. Given the casually bloodthirsty tone of Adele Geras' other novel of ancient Greece, `Troy', I wasn't expecting Odysseus to be so soft. Some of the suitors are allowed to flee, and the killing of all Penelope's handmaidens is removed altogether. I had expected Klymene, the rather insipid main character, to escape the slaughter but for it not to happen at all changes Odysseus a lot.

Although I try not to be too bothered by anachronisms in historical fiction, I found the repeated use of the word `crap' to be particularly jarring and modern. Equally, there seemed to be a remarkable lack of pregnancy considering the promiscuity of some of the characters and the general dearth of contraception in ancient Greece. But without doubt the thing that annoyed me most about this book was the use of the gods. Sometimes they appeared in order to be involved in the plot or change the direction of the narrative, but most often they just seemed to appear for a quick chat which had no influence on the story whatsoever and so they lost any significance that they might have had.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I LOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVEEEEEE THIS BOOK!, 19 Nov 2006
This review is from: Ithaka (Paperback)
this is a fantastic book. My mum bought it for me, and i got straight into it. The characters are realistic, and i could really relate to Klymene as she was growing up.

The book is about Penelope, living in Ithaka while Odysseus is fighting in Troy. It also tells the story of her young maid, Klymene, and the effects of love, secrets and revenge.

The plot was snappy and really interesting, the description was realistic, and i felt like i was there.

One of the best books i have ever read-Five Stars *****!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good read, 18 July 2013
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This review is from: Ithaka (Kindle Edition)
I read this on holiday. Good read while lying on a sun lounger. Having read Troy this was a good follow up
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not Impressed, 26 Jan 2012
By 
H. Jane "Zani" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ithaka (Paperback)
Not impressed with this book, in fact I had to put it down half way through which I rarely do.
The story is very simple and written in a remarkabley child-like way so much so that at first I assumed it was intended for people much younger than me (fourteen) however there are some scenes that are very unsuitable for a child.
The story also switches point of view very often, occaisonaly ending up from the point of view of a dog, with very little to say except how "tired" it is- which seemed an odd thing to do to me..
SPOILERS ALERT
The story is also set from the point of view of Penelope, Odysseus' wife or her handmaid Kylmene. However very little happens to people, as the original story is told from the point of view of Odysseus. Because of this the author, understandabley, makes things up and most of the way through I thought they were plausable and relatively interesting. Until, suddenly Penelope is having an affair! I'm surprised at this, if I'm honest, the whole POINT in Penelope is that she's the "perfect wife" waiting for Odysseus the whole time, having an affair with one of the suitors completely changes the meaning in them as well!
Overall I wouldn't recommend this, I might have got through the simplistic writing if there had been a good story but that also has issues.
Not impressed
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ithaka, 20 July 2010
This review is from: Ithaka (Paperback)
This is a brilliantly thought out and researched book by Adele Geras which tells the heart-wrenching story of Penelope as she waits for her darling Odysseus to return safely home after years and years of waiting. Their son Telemachus feircely defends his father's name, telling anyone and everyone of his survival, egged on by his mother.
Yet no one believes them whatever they might say, and even Penelope sometimes doubts as to whether he is coming home. The Greek Goddess Pallas Athene visited her in the form of a white owl sometime ago, and told her that as long as she weaves and keeps everything the same and unchanging, Odysseus shall return - but was that a dream?

The book is written from the point of veiw of Klymene, her handmaiden, who, along with her twin Ikarios, were brought up with Telemachus, and the three of them had been childhood freinds for as long as they could remember, due to their Grandmother being Telemachus's nurse. Klymene is like a daughter to Penelope, and helps with the weaving. In secret, she dreams of Telemachus - a wish made fruitless when stunningly beautiful Melantho arrives, and catches the attention of both Ikarios and Telemachus, as well as every other man on the island.

I would rate this four stars, as it is wonderfully written and very helpful in the understanding of poor Penelope's wait. However, the one star it lost was for the slightly abrupt ending, and I would have liked a follow-up chapter.
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5.0 out of 5 stars wow, 4 Nov 2007
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This review is from: Ithaka (Paperback)
wow! This book was truly great. It was funny, sad, romantic, and I loved the way that the Greek Gods and Goddesses were worked into the plot. I would recomend this to teenage girls who love reading historical fiction like me!
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Ithaka
Ithaka by Adèle Geras (Paperback - 3 Aug 2006)
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