The Penelopiad – Margaret Attwood

I just want to make sure you know that I am a big fan and would read a shopping list if Margaret Attwood wrote it. This is one of those publisher initiated series where famous writers retell various myths and legends. We are treated to the telling of Penelope, wife of Odysseus. The story of Odysseus is told in the Odyssey – where he goes to the Trojan war for 10 years and the Iliad where he takes 10 years to get home. When he finally does manage to get home, faithful Penelope has been waiting and fending off a whole lot of suitors. Odysseus kills the suitors and for good measure, twelve serving maids.

Margaret Attwood must have had a lot of fun writing this and it is a lot of fun to read. She uses prose and poetry and allows Penelope to speak to us in the present. The legendary beauty, Helen of Troy is Penelope’s cousin and is described as ‘poison on legs’ and ‘that septic bitch’. Wonderful stuff. Also talking to us are the twelve maids who are still seeking justice for their murder. Most of their dialogue is in the form a play where they deliver witty and sarcastic dialogue. They also seek to deconstruct the myth and reveal some hidden meanings in the tale.

There is a decent amount of feminist message in this work along with humour, playfulness, politics poetry and wonderful prose. A classic tale wonderfully told in a modern voice. Loved it.






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