The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

 

Okay, this wins apenelopiad_coverll the retellings (of which I am, admittedly, just starting to read)!  I LOVED reading Penelope’s side of the story, seeing Odysseus’s cleverness from her perspective, gently allowing her unreliable narration.  Was she faithful?  Was she not?  She sure wants us to think she was, just like Odysseus wants us to think he’s a tragic hero.  They’re a perfect match for each other….which is only half the story!

Undoubtedly, the highlight of this book is the way it dissects the story of the twelve maids who were hung at Odysseus’s return.  The historical, cultural, and sexual discussions surrounding their role in the story are both fascinating and horrifying. And so clever (which is fitting, in a book about Penelope and Odysseus).  Every few chapters, the maids speak for themselves, sometimes in poetry, sometimes in song, sometimes in lecture, sometimes in a mock trial.  Their righteous indignation is so simple and powerful, right from the beginning, with their “The Chorus Line: A Rope-Jumping Rhyme”:  Continue reading