The Penelopiad, by Margaret Atwood

Book 8

The Penelopiad is part of a series of books where “some of the world’s finest writers” retell the old myths.  Atwood chose Penelope and Odysseus.

Atwood has a serious problem with the end of the Odyssey, where Penelope’s 12 maids were hung.  So she tells the tale of Penelope’s life – in the first person from the Underworld – interspersed with the “chorus” of the maids.  It was positively Shakespearean.

Also, in this tale, Penelope can’t freakin’ stand her cousin, Helen.  Which was awesome.  However, Atwood paints Helen as far more lustful, slithery and vain than I had considered.  I always thought her merely dumb.  Really dumb.  And vain.

Inasmuch as I always dig the alternate point of view, and I have always rather liked Penelope, I was very happy with this book.

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