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The Penelopiad – Margaret Atwood
Penelope was the wife of Odysseus and is mentioned in the Illiad written by Homer as a faithful Queen who fought off many suitors during the 10 years her husband was away for The Trojan War.
Who was she really and what caused Odysseus to kill her 12 maids by hanging?
What is it about?
If you’re familiar with Penelope, perhaps from Circe or other books set in Greece, then all you know is she was a Queen of the island of Ithaca and kept her husband’s throne safe and raised their wayward son, Telemachus.
Telemachus was a small baby when Odysseus was called to fight in the Trojan War and pretended to be mad to avoid going.
When Telemachus was placed in front of him almost causing Odysseus to run his son over to prove his madness, he had to resign himself to the face that he had to go.
Odysseus fought for 10 years in the Trojan War and after displeasing Athena ended up wandering around for another 10 years, so by the time he came back to Ithaca he had been away for 20 years.
Penelope whilst still beautiful, was cunning and found a way to keep the suitors away from her husband’s Kingdom.
The Penelopiad tells the relationship between her and her 12 maids who served her and who Odysseus hanged upon his return after slaughtering the Suitors.
The Penelopiad is a very short and easy to read told from Penelope’s persepective in the Underworld after her death.
I found it enjoyable to listen as well as read this book, and it’s a good insight into a little know figure we think we know about.
The Penelopiad is also my first Margaret Atwood because i just cannot get into The Handmaid’s Tale (both book and TV show) so I’m glad I managed to finish something from her!
Would I recommend it?
This is a really short, easy read and will probably only take you a couple of hours at most and is a light read despite some trigger warnings for the maids and suitors untimely deaths.