Dusty's Reviews > The Penelopiad

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
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Dec 02, 2008

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bookshelves: read-in-2008
Read in November, 2008

Atwood's Penelopiad is a smart and ironic but strangely unexceptional novel. What attracted me to it was its promise of a confessional narrative -- who wouldn't want to hear Homer's masterpiece from the mouth of the loyal, weepy Penelope? -- and Atwood's master-stroke is allowing Penelope to share her story from the Underworld, after she's died, after she's stewed for a couple thousand years. The straight-from-the-Underworld narrative allows Atwood to concoct hilarious if unlikely run-ins between the spirit of Penelope and those of Odysseus, Antinous and, best of all, the bitchtastic Helen of Troy.

What did not please me about this book, however, were the stray chapters told by or about the twelve maids (or maidens?, Atwood asks) who are hung by Odysseus and Telemachus for their supposed disobedience. I suppose these are intended to add feminist heft to the Penelopiad, and two of them are very nicely written, but ... really, I found them a distraction.

Atwood has written a fine 150-page novel but apparently had to meet a 200-page quota.

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11/29/2008 page 38
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April This sounds really interesting - looking forward to your review.

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