The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood – A Review

 

Published 2005, Cannongate, 221pp

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

The Penelopiad is a retelling of Homer’s Odyssey but instead of Odysseus, his wife is the protagonist . It is told from the perspective of Penelope who has long been existing (not living, obviously, as she is dead, a fact that she keeps reminding the reader) in the underworld and has decided to tell her own story after witnessing how much the tale of her and Odysseus has been adapted and changed over the years. It is written largely in prose and is interspersed with Choruses that offer a light interlude in the story in the form of saucy and fun verses. These are told from the viewpoint of twelve of Penelope’s maids and although they are a bit whimsical they were damning of Odysseus and Telemachus, the men who murdered them. The death of her maids is something that plays heavily on Penelope’s conscience and is part of the reason she feels the need to tell the truth.

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