Sunday, 19 June 2011

Review:- Margaret ATWOOD – “The Penelopiad”

Year Published: - 2005
Where the book was from:- Mine - Library book sale
ISBN: - 978 1 84195 704 3
Pages: - 200pp
Genre: - Historical Fiction / Mythology
Location:- Greek kingdom of Ithica – circa 12th Century BC
How I came across it: - Serendipity
Rating: - ***** *

One sentence summary:- Penelope, now many centuries dead, speaks from the Underworld to tell her side of the story of the return of Odysseus from the Trojan Wars.

Describe the plot without giving anything away:- According to Greek mythology, Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, spent many years waiting for her husband to return from the Trojan Wars. He was too busy fighting Cyclops, making love to Goddesses, etc. to make his way straight home. His faithful wife, already upset that Odysseus had been lured off to war by the behaviour of her beautiful but wayward cousin Helen, then had to fight off a bunch of greedy and aggressive suitors who claimed Odysseus was dead.
The story is told from the modern day Underworld where Penelope is at last trying to set the record straight.

General comments:- I should have preferred Penelope to have spoken out straight away rather than wait for the modern era to do so. The reference by Penelope to waste-paper baskets when one comes across it on page 17 seems totally anachronistic.
Margaret Atwood is not to my taste and so far as I can recall this is the first of her books I’ve ever managed to finish. Her book sales run into millions so I am probably in the minority!


Now that I am dead I know everything. This is what I wished would happen, but like so many of my wishes it failed to come true., I know only a few factoids that I didn’t know before. Death is much too high a price to pay for the satisfaction of curiosity, needless to say.

The teaching of crafts to girls has fallen out of fashion now, I understand, but luckily it had not in my day. It’s always an advantage to have something to do with your hands. That way, if someone makes an inappropriate remark, you can pretend you haven’t heard it. Then you don’t have to answer.

AUTHOR Notes:- Margaret Eleanor Atwood, CC, O.Ont, FRSC (born November 18, 1939) is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and environmental activist. She is among the most-honoured authors of fiction in recent history; she is a winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and Prince of Asturias award for Literature, has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, winning once, and has been a finalist for the Governor General's Award seven times, winning twice.


  1. Is 'The Handmaid's Tale' one of the ones you've tried? I read it recently and thought it was excellent.

  2. No, Helen, I've not read the Handmaid's Tale - I'll see if Pensby Library has it.


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