Book Review: The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

(This review might contain spoilers)

This year I finally joined a bookclub in the city: an all women, science fiction and fantasy books bookclub! It’s been great to meet with girls who have similar interests and love talking about books.

The Penelopiad is the third book I read for the club and I really enjoyed it! It was an easy read and I finished it in under a week.

I’ve always enjoyed the Greek stories, but I cannot say I am an avid Classics reader. However, the Odyssey is one that I really enjoyed reading and studying while in college. Of course, a retelling of this great story, but from the point of view of those who were left behind, immediately caught my attention.

The Penelopiad is the story of Penelope, Oddyseus faithful wife, as she stays behind as her husband has to leave to fight in the War of Troy, but even when the war is over, he doesn’t come back immediately and all she gets back are rumors of him being out having adventures, sleeping with goddesses and fighting monsters.

This story took a very feminist point of view, which I enjoyed. After all, why is it that Odysseus is usually praised, but not Penelope who had to endured years of not knowing if her husband would ever come back.

There is also another interesting element added to her story, that of how she has lived her whole life in the shadow of her beautiful cousin Helen and how most of her misfortune comes from her. In Margaret Atwood’s story, Penelope never truly finds happiness, because even she knows that she was second best, never the prettiest, always the one that easily burst into tears and even if her husband does come back to her, they both know he is not madly in love with her and will never be.

I liked thinking of Penelope as an everyday girl, someone I can relate to, and of course I loved thinking of the classical story from a totally different point of view.

 

My review: 4/5 stars ★ ★ ★ ★

Finished the book on August 16th, 2018. The eleventh book of the year.

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