Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Let's talk The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

Ahh, Penelope… Faithful Penelope. Patient Penelope. Odysseus’ wife, Penelope. Always associated with someone else’s tale Penelope. Well not anymore! Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad retells Homer’s The Odyssey from Penelope’s pov. While History may hail her as the pinnacle of wifely devotion, she has other ideas and now she’s started, she will not rest until her side has been told. 

3 words to describe this book – fierce, feminist and flawless. I absolutely devoured it! Being the first of Atwood’s that I’ve read, and her reputation proceeding her, I had high expectations and she did not disappoint. A certain book of hers has shot right up my tbr list…

The plot itself is self-explanatory. The Odyssey is a myth that I have regaled myself with numerous times over the past year and I feared this would feel tedious and repetitive, however that was not the case at all! Atwood has managed to take this notorious tale and has spun it into a completely new thread that was utterly refreshing. 

The language is intellectual yet accessible. Woven it into the variance in style and Atwood’s ability to move between prose and poetic prose effortlessly and you have a light and easy read. Had I not been busy juggling work, studying and training at the time of reading, this would have taken me a few hours. 

In terms of characterisation, Atwood does a superb job in fleshing out and adding colour to the black and white Penelope portrayed by Homer. It was also stimulating to see a sense of humility in Atwood’s Penelope, she is aware of her faults, and those of the other female characters, and doesn’t disguise these to convey her story. 

Captivating, stunning and authentic, this is a true masterpiece. 


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