Tuesday, August 23

Book Review: The Penelopiad

Title: The Penelopiad

Author: Margaret Atwood

Pages: 196

Summary: For Penelope, wife of Odysseus, maintaining a kingdom while her husband fights in the Trojan war is not a simple business. Already aggravated that he has been lured away due to the shocking behaviour of her cousin Helen, Penelope must bring up her wayward son, face down scandalous rumours, and keep over a hundred lustful, greedy and bloodthirsty suitors at bay . . .

And then Odysseus finally returns and slaughters the murderous suitors, he brutally hangs Penelope's twelve beloved maids, What were his motives? And what was Penelope herself up to? In the Penelopiad, Atwood has given Penelope a wise and witty voice to tell her own story and set the record for good.

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I enjoyed this short novel on the myth behind Odysseus and Penelope. It was an interesting take on the myth and shows Atwood's ability to take something and twist it to showcase her whit and creativity, she's a great storyteller and this is another example of it.

I really enjoyed how Atwood decided to tell the story, alternating between the narrative of Penelope and her telling her story, as she sits in the afterlife and the verses told by the twelve maids. The maids perspective added a fun twist to the story and helped add an extra perspective to theirs and Penelope's death. The book is written very well and is able to explore the myth of Odysseus in a short amount of time and I wasn't left with the feeling that there wasn't enough time to explore all the characters, when I finished I did feel like they were well developed, although I did wish I could have had a bit more time with them.

As I mentioned above it was a short read and I wished there was more to it than there was, the story had an ending and the characters were well developed, but I would have liked a longer story, I wasn't ready to leave the mythological world behind. I also wish (and perhaps there is) that the series this book belongs to was available as a whole collection - not just individual books, otherwise it was a good read and a good choice for a warm summer evening.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it has Atwood's wit, along with some mythological fiction, which made for a nice read. It's a good book to read on a rainy day.

What to read next: I'd read more books on mythology - this book is part of a series (Myths Series)written by multiple authors, so it may be worth checking out.

Challenges: 11 in 11, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Reading Challenge V, Global Reading Challenge


  1. I erad this book a long time ago now (ir it feels like that anyway) and I absolutely loved it. I actually didn't know the mythology before I read it which I think made it even better for me because it all came as a surprise. I couldn't put it down and I fell in love with Penelope and her maids. Atwood's writing is like no one else's - I am so glad she did what she did with this myth.

  2. I also don't know the mythology behind this book, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to read it! I think it sounds refreshing and a tad funny, and like something that I would really enjoy. I am glad that you liked it too, but I can see your desire for it to have been a bit longer!

  3. I enjoyed this story, but I agree- it was really short and left me wanting more. But really well-written. I don't remember it that well, but know that I liked it.

  4. I really love HOMER and I love mythology in general, so I'm really looking forward to watching this.

  5. Becky - I know pieces of mythology here and there, but I also didn't know anything behind this story. I agree with you that Penelope is a character you can fall in love with.

    Zibilee - It does have a bit of satire in it, I think that's what helped make it such an interesting read, and twist to an old story retold.

    Aatri - It was very well written, but anything my Atwood is.

    Rebecca Reid - I love mythology too! I really want to start reading some more mythology particularity Greek. I have Homer on my shelf, just haven't read it yet.