The Penelopiad

Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Penelopiad
Baker & Taylor
Presents the cycle of stories about Penelope, wife of Odysseus, through the eyes of the twelve maids hanged for disloyalty to Odysseus in his absence.

Perseus Publishing
?Homer’s Odyssey is not the only version of the story. Mythic material was originally oral, and also local -- a myth would be told one way in one place and quite differently in another. I have drawn on material other than the Odyssey, especially for the details of Penelope’s parentage, her early life and marriage, and the scandalous rumors circulating about her. I’ve chosen to give the telling of the story to Penelope and to the twelve hanged maids. The maids form a chanting and singing Chorus, which focuses on two questions that must pose themselves after any close reading of the Odyssey: What led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to? The story as told in the Odyssey doesn’t hold water: there are too many inconsistencies. I’ve always been haunted by the hanged maids and, in The Penelopiad, so is Penelope herself.” -- from Margaret Atwood’s Foreword to The Penelopiad

& Taylor

The author of The Handmaid's Tale and The Blind Assassin presents a cycle of stories about Penelope, wife of Odysseus, through the eyes of the twelve maids hanged for disloyalty to Odysseus in his absence. 75,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Canongate, c2005
ISBN: 1841957178
Branch Call Number: FIC A
Characteristics: xv, 199 p. ; 21 cm.


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Apr 01, 2013
  • forbesrachel rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

A unique look at an ancient classic; Penelope is now made a central figure, and is given new depth of character. Clearly the Odyssey, and ancient Greece were well researched before this book was made.

Mar 28, 2013
  • bwortman rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A quick but brilliant read. Atwood creates a rich voice for Penelope as she recounts her life in a way that reframes her existence outside of that of her husband. Interspersed with Penelope's narrative are interjections from a chorus made up of the twelve maids who Odysseus had killed for colluding with the suitors. These often more poetic turns provide a different perspective again on the tale Penelope weaves. An intriguing exploration of a woman who in the original source text only matters in relation to her husband, Atwood creates a complex woman who remains an enigma even in her own tale.

May 21, 2012
  • crankylibrarian rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

In the Underworld, Penelope reflects on her life with and without Odysseus, on the suitors (whose ghosts still annoy her) and on the serving maids she loved who met a terrible and unjust fate.

Nov 21, 2011
  • wallyb rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

If reading the Odyssey is your kind of thing, you will probably enjoy a book like this, which riffs on the original story by telling Penelope's part in her voice - she now resides in Hades, and looks back at the main story and what she knew of Odysseus' travels while she held the royal estates as best as she could. Atwood started this when she wondered why Odysseus hanged the 12 maids of Penelope on his return; it's not explained at all in the original, and Atwood decided that exploring that question would open up the story of Penelope in its own way.
So: interesting story, nice variations and explanations of the original material, and something more for people who enjoyed Zachary Mason's book The Lost Books of the Odyssey

Jun 23, 2010
  • vanravenstein rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Read Homer's Odyssey first to get the full appreciation of it.
Some humorous parts. Better than I expected.

Sep 25, 2009
  • book_devourer rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

A funny and touching story. Atwood spins a new cloth out of old fabric. Even mythology gurus will enjoy Penelope as she bares all!


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The Penelopiad
Atwood, Margaret, 1939-
The Penelopiad

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