3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Dazzling retelling of a familar tale,
This review is from: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (Myths) (Paperback)
The Penelopiad sees Margaret Atwood retelling parts of The Iliad and The Odyssey from the point of view of Odysseus' wife Penelope and the twelve maids that he slaughtered. Judging from the blurb, Atwood is proud of giving Penelope a voice for the first time, and she has succeeded in creating a exceptionally well-rounded character. Feeling her story is somewhat overlooked by that of her more beautiful sister, we find Penelope recounting her side of the story as she wanders round Hell. Intensely driven by jealousy of her famous sister, she is a loyal wife, and it is enjoyable to see her defend her treatment of the Suitors who plague her marital home in an attempt to claim her hand in Odyssey's absence. Her justifications and musings coalesce around a most enjoyable character.
Her decision to include the maids as a chorus line throughout the book could have been gimmicky, but she pushes them through a variety of dramatic techniques - for example a court reconstruction and a play, but provides a real backbone to the book, deftly done that attempts to explain their seemingly indiscriminate slaughter in The Odyssey.
Overall, this is a book that is clever and funny, in which the entertaining character of Penelope is finally allowed to come to the fore. Atwood's language is frequently modern, and the lives of her characters are frequently set to contemporary rhythms, but this only serves to underscore the timelessness of the myth that she is retelling.