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The Penelopiad

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  32,774 ratings  ·  3,316 reviews
Now that all the others have run out of air, it’s my turn to do a little story-making.

In Homer’s account in The Odyssey, Penelope—wife of Odysseus and cousin of the beautiful Helen of Troy—is portrayed as the quintessential faithful wife, her story a salutary lesson through the ages. Left alone for twenty years when Odysseus goes off to fight in the Trojan War after the a

Hardcover, 198 pages
Published October 5th 2005 by Canongate U.S.
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Katie The suffix -iad means "concerned with" or "connected to" -- for example, Homer's Iliad is the story of the war in Troy, whose name in Greek is Ilium.…moreThe suffix -iad means "concerned with" or "connected to" -- for example, Homer's Iliad is the story of the war in Troy, whose name in Greek is Ilium. Penelopiad is the story concerned with Penelope.(less)
El Wrang! Sure you don't NEED to know every single little detail but in the end, being familiar with the Odyssey and Greek Mythology in general will…moreWrang! Sure you don't NEED to know every single little detail but in the end, being familiar with the Odyssey and Greek Mythology in general will greatly enhance your read. Even if you just peruse through wikipedia pages for an hour.(less)

Community Reviews

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3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  32,774 ratings  ·  3,316 reviews

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(B+) 77% | Good
Notes: It succeeds in its ambitious concept and style, but comes off more like a postscript to The Odyssey than its own story.
Jun 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"we had no voice
we had no name
we had no choice
we had one face
one face the same

we took the blame
it was no fair
but now w're here
we're all here too
the same as you"

The truly successful myths are those that can be retold over and over from different angles and still speak to a contemporary audience with the same intensity as to past centuries. When Margaret Atwood picked up the story of Penelope and Odysseus, she kept all the familiar ideas, and yet - it is an entirely modern vision, and a modern v
Huda Yahya

~~لا صوت لنا
لا اسم لنا
لا اختيار لنا
لا وجه لنا
وجه واحد للجميع
لامونا نحن
ولم يك هذا عدلا~~

كيف ظللت طيلة هذا الوقت دون القراءة لمارجريت أتوود؟
إنه ليس العمل الأشهر وغالبا ليس الأكثر حرفية أو اتقانا لها
ولكنه عمل شديد التميز
وإني لأتساءل كيف ستكون أعمالها الأشهر حاصدة الجوائز؟

تستعير أتوود هنا بينولوبي من ملحمة الأوديسة لصاحبها لهوميروس
بينولوبي رمز الإخلاص والوفاء
الزوجة التي انتظرت زوجها الغائب لمدة عشرين عام
بين ويلات الحروب وتحت ضغوط لا تنتهي

ولكننا هنا نقرأ الحكاية على لسان بينولوبي
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Margaret Atwood gives us a reworked reinterpretation of Homer's The Odyssey that lends itself rather well to our present day in its contemporary echoes of our MeToo movement today. We have the abandoned for 20 years, but faithful Penelope learning to manage the court in the absence of her philandering husband. Numerous suitors come to court, Penelope commands the twelve maids, slaves in reality, to be used and abused, to deal with them. The inherently flawed Odysseus spent the first 10 years fig ...more
Often I amuse myself by trying to imagine the ideas, conversations, or circumstances that led to the writing of certain books. For example, I think Philippa Gregory wrote The Other Boleyn Girl because she wanted to write a smutty romance novel disguised as history, Shakespeare probably wrote The Taming of the Shrew because someone bet him he couldn't write a play where domestic abuse is interpreted as matrimonial devotion, and Bette Green wrote Summer of My German Soldier specifically to torture ...more
Ana O
 photo 31b75d35cd12016269b32e1c60298c24_zpso5tfknmh.jpg

“The two of us were now proficient and shameless liars of long standing. It’s a wonder either one of us believed a word the other said. But we did. Or so we told each other.”

Brilliant. The Penelopiad is a refreshing new spin on this old myth.
Charlotte May
This was technically a reread, but I couldn't remember the specific dates I read it the first time, so I recorded this as a first time read.

Such an enjoyable, quick and surprising retelling of The Odyssey from Penelope's perspective. Nearly everyone knows Odysseus, smart, witty, promiscuous; tackles 1 too many mythical beasts over the decade he is missing on his return from The Trojan War.
Penelope is sassy, intelligent, and more than a little bit pissed off at her cousin Helen for causing this w
Riku Sayuj
The Penelopiad or The Ballad of the Dead Maids

This has been my introduction to Atwood and I have to admit that I feel slightly underwhelmed. I went in with high expectations, wondering how Atwood will take the 'waiting widow' of The Odyssey and transform it into a full length novel. Turns out that she mostly indulges in recapitulating the bulk of the original with a few wild theories and speculations thrown in as supposed rumors that Penelope has gleaned in the after-life.

Which brings me to how
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
The Greatness Syndrome: when a book is so original, thought-provoking and fantastically written that there is nothing to say about it.

Lucy Langford
”We had no voice,
We had no name,
We had no choice,
We had one face,
One face the same"

This book focuses on the story of Penelope and the twelve maids immortalised in myth by the story of Odysseus. This is told from Penelope's point of view as she wonders through the underworld, looking back on events that had taken place in her life.

Penelope in this book is fiercely intelligent, cunning and much more than just the devoted wife as portrayed in Homer's- The Odyssey. It goes through her life as a
Magrat Ajostiernos
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, fantasía
Al final me ha acabado gustando mucho más de lo que esperaba.
El principio me descolocó bastante por esa "voz" tan actual que tiene Penélope, y me costó acostumbrarme a ella, pero finalmente me conquistó, a pesar de todo mi parte preferida sin duda es la protagonizada por las criadas, me pareció brillante... Especialmente el uso de los coros. Los capítulos finales me parecieron una genialidad.
Este relato se puede leer prácticamente del tirón (100 páginas tiene) y narra una historia por todos cono
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mythology, canada, atwood
This was so beautifully written. As someone who's fairly familiar with the myth of Penelope and Odysseus, it was quite fascinating to see how a modern-day writer would spin the story. Atwood did this brilliantly. I love stories that write from the perspective of the main character, especially when the said character is looking back in hindsight.Very creative.
Apr 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
تُعيد مرجريت آتوود سرد حكاية من حكايات الأساطير اليونانية القديمة
حكاية بينيلوبي زوجة أوديسيوس بطل ملحمة الأوديسة لهوميروس التي انتظرت زوجها الغائب لمدة عشرين عام
تحكي بينيلوبي من عالم الموتى عن حياتها قبل وبعد الزواج وعلاقتها بأهلها وزوجها وفترة انتظاره الطويلة
وبين فصول الرواية تعرض آتوود حياة خادمات القصور البائسة ومعاناتهم من معاملة السادة, لتحقيق العدالة للخادمات اللاتي قتلهن أوديسيوس بعد عودته
وجهة نظر جديدة لقصة قديمة ومشهورة, ومحاولة لمعرفة الحقيقة
فالجهل بالتفاصيل أو إخفاءها غالبا ما يجعل ل
Dec 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 21st-century, canada
This review contains spoilers. If you are allergic to them, please note, this is positively riddled with them. You should either take some epinephrine, or skip it altogether.

As a modern re-telling of the Odyssey, this proves an interesting example of why some things are best left alone, especially if you don't address the topic in a particularly fresh or inventive way. I feel the sting in that, even as I write it, but in truth, I don't see how Atwood moved the needle one bit in re-opening, or ev
Aug 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
In the pantheon of great Greek works the Odyssey certainly ranks among the most well known. The adventures of Odysseus as he tries to win his way home from the successful Trojan War, a war that had already kept him from home for ten years. Well, after another ten years of various adventures and misadventures he finally makes it home to Ithaca only to find his loyal wife, Penelope, beset by opportunistic suitors drinking his wine and eating his livestock. Yada yada yada, he and his son kill all t ...more
Apr 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, fiction, greek, myth
“Happy endings are best achieved by keeping the right doors locked”
― Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad


I like looking at myths and great literature in another way. I enjoyed the book, but it just wasnt' great Margaret Atwood. It felt a bit dashed-off, almost an afterthought. Great in idea, but just OK in execution.

Things I liked:
1. the conception
2. the re-evaluation of Penelope in conjunction with Helen, Odysseus, Eryurycleia, Telemachus, etc.
3. the re-evaluation of Odysseus
4. the idea of the 12
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
Tip; If you aren't familiar with (or have forgotten) this Greek myth don't read the introduction to this novel as it contains spoilers. I love the Greek myths (I must have mean streak!) but I had forgotten some of this. I would rather of been taken by surprise.

A clever idea to feminise one of the most famous of these legends, but the start had some lazy writing;

Where shall I begin? There are only two choices: at the beginning or not at the beginning.

There is also that unfortunate whiff you ge
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La versione di Penelope.

La Atwood dà voce, attraverso questo breve romanzo, alla donna più fedele e remissiva della storia, se diamo credito ad Omero e utilizziamo l'Odissea come unica testimonianza su ciò che accadde.

E invece.

La Atwood, in modo assai ironico e brillante, si basa su la versione di Graves (Robert, quello dei miti). E non solo dà voce a Penelope, che racconta una storia "leggermente" diversa, ma anche alle 12 ancelle, le fanciulle più rimosse dalla memoria dei migliaia di lettori
I'm a sucker for Odysseus, as many of you know (once I finish gawain's daughter, I'm planning on writing the Telemakhiad, for example), so I appreciate that this doesn't make him a villian, a wife-beater or somesuch.

There are some excellent moments -- the opening line is brilliant ('Now that I'm dead I know everything'); and the wordplay throughout is superb; the 'gilded blood pudding' simile (trust me, it's good); the relationship between the maids and Telemakhos (although she doesn't expand up
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In un primo momento la mia formazione classica si è dichiarata snobbisticamente scettica davanti alla manipolazione del mito. Poi, consapevole di quanto perfino gli dei si siano sempre fatti beffe della verità e del destino degli umani, e grazie alla scrittura della Atwood, ho ascoltato questa “versione di Penelope” via via con sempre maggior divertimento.
Quella di una donna ormai pienamente consapevole di aver avuto per marito un bugiardo, capace di ingannare non solo gli altri, ma anche lei st
Carol Rodríguez
Este es el tercer libro de Atwood que leo y me temo que no acabo de conectar con ella. "Alias Grace" me fascinó, pero los otros dos no tanto (aunque "Penélope y las doce criadas" me ha gustado más que "El cuento de la criada"). Hay algo en su forma de escribir que no me llega, me queda la impresión de que sus novelas tenían más potencial de base y que el resultado se queda algo pobre. Sus ideas me gustan mucho, pero no tanto cómo las lleva a cabo.

Este libro me empezó gustando, pero según avanzab
Oct 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
The Penelopiad is another installment of the Canongate Myths Series.

In this installment, Margaret Atwood turns her hand to the story of Odysseus and tells the story of The Odyssey and The Iliad from the perspective of Penelope, Odysseus' wife.

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to read an Atwood version of Homer's anthem to heroism, it was fun. I read this whilst waiting at the garage. Apparently, my chuckling along persuaded the elderly gentleman next to me to co-read while waiting
Amy | shoutame
Apr 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult
I read this one on the recommendation of the lovely Jean at Bookishthoughts and thoroughly enjoyed it!

- So this is a modern retelling of the story of Penelope and Odysseus which can be found in Homer's account in The Odyssey. Penelope and Odysseus are well known and their story is one that has been told many times - this time however we delve much deeper and Margaret Atwood shares the tale of Penelope and her aspiring suitors plus that of the twelve handmaids whom Odysseus executed upon his retu
Vicky Ziliaskopoulou
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: Ξένα
Το να γράψει κάποιος την οδύσσεια από την πλευρά της Πηνελόπης είναι σίγουρα μια πολύ καλή και έξυπνη ιδέα. Το βρήκα καλό, ανάλαφρο και σίγουρα πολύ μικρό. Δεν ξέρω αν έκανε έρευνα η συγγραφέας για να το γράψει ή αν αρκέστηκε μόνο στην Οδύσσεια, μου φάνηκε περιληπτικό και θα το ήθελα πιο μεγάλο, είναι τόσο αραιογραμμένο και τόσο λίγο που μέχρι να μπω στο κλίμα το είχα κιόλας τελειώσει. Πάντως μου άρεσε.

BRACE 2018: Ένα βιβλίο συγγραφέα που ήταν 60+ όταν το έγραψε
Εεχχχχ ήταν αρκετά μέτριο! Σε κάποια σημεία μου άρεσε και σε κάποια άλλα όχι! Πιο πολύ με ενόχλησε ο χαρακτήρας της Πηνελόπης.....ήταν κάπως μνησίκακη....δεν ξέρω πώς να την περιγράψω καλύτερα.....και τι κόλλημα/κόμπλεξ ήταν τέλος πάντων αυτό με την Ελένη!! γενικά πολλές φορές με εκνεύριζε.....και με εκνεύριζε ο τρόπος που έβλεπε τα πράγματα και αυτά που σκέφτονταν γι' αυτά κοιτάζοντας το παρελθόν και όχι οι πράξεις της!

Γενικά με την Atwood δεν τα πηγαίνω και τόσο καλά, αλλά θέλω να πιστεύω ότι
Jun 21, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, didnt-finish
The one where Penelope tells her story from the Underworld. I made it about sixty pages before the whining got to me.

Presumably the author feels that Penelope deserves better than to be a secondary character. But since, when put on center stage, this universal-victim Penelope never asserts herself, and is chiefly worried about whether people like her and how she's not as pretty as Helen of Troy, I'd say the Odyssey did her a better turn than Atwood did.
David Lentz
Jan 03, 2012 rated it liked it
I was intrigued to read a woman's point of view focused upon one of the great heroines of Homer's "Odyssey" in Penelope. Homer's work is, of course, an epic masterpiece which has endured for more than four milennia and it is nearly impossible to do justice to this legend of incredible, ancient genius. I was disappointed in several places by Atwood's rather shallow depictions of the characters of both Odysseus and Penelope who were both courageous and brilliant in their own ways in Homer's tale. ...more
Anna [Floanne]
Voto: 4.5 stelle

"Ora che sono morta so tutto". Così comincia questo breve romanzo in cui Margaret Atwood riscrive magistralmente il mito del ritorno di Odisseo nella sua Itaca. A parlare, però, questa volta è una voce femminile, Penelope, che finalmente libera dal timore di una punizione divina, può raccontare la sua storia e la sua verità e affrancarsi da quell'iconografia che da millenni la ritrae solo come moglie fedele e madre devota. Penelope ci racconta tutta la sua vita: dalle origini,
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stelle, riletture
” A questo punto mi sembra giusto accennare anche alle chiacchiere calunniose che circolano sul mio conto da due o tremila anni. Tutte bugie.”

Ci sono due elementi che M.A. ci indica come propulsori di questa rilettura omerica:
in primo luogo, a dispetto di ciò che si crede, l’Odissea è solo una di varie versioni del mito raccontato in maniera diversa a seconda della regione in cui ci si trova.
Si è, pertanto, cercato di dare spazio anche ad altre tradizioni orali.

Il secondo elemento, invece, è
Penelope gets the shaft. Come to think of it so does Clymmenstra. Let’s get that clear before we go any further.

Homer was on to something when the he composed the most famous of all ancient works in the forms of the Iliad and the Odyssey. I doubt he even knew how long the story would last and how often his name would be invoked in despair by students the world over. Today, Troy and its related matter appear in a variety of forms from movies, video games, to various books.

This fame of the story h
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Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.

Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry, childr
“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can't go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.” 936 likes
“Cleverness is a quality a man likes to have in his wife as long as she is some distance away from him. Up close, he'll take kindness any day of the week, if there's nothing more alluring to be had.” 105 likes
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