The Penelopiad

Title: The Penelopiad
Author: Margaret Atwood
Publisher: Canongate
Publication Date: 2005
ISBN: 9781841957982
Pages: 196
How I got it: Library

Margaret Atwood gives voices to Penelope and her twelve hanged maids in this feminist retelling of Homer's The Odyssey.  Alternating between Penelope and the Chorus Line, the book is written for an easy stage adaptation.  The Chorus Line: A Rope-Jumping Rhyme" sets the mood for the accusations brought forth from the maids.  

Penelope tells of her upbringing (her father tried to kill her and then attempts to smother her with affection.) Penelope discusses her lifelong rivalry with her cousin Helen, her marriage to macho jock / philanderer Odysseus, and her role as Telemachus's mother. Beyond the weaving of the shroud we were not given any background to Penelope's house arrest in the original story. Here we are given modern viewpoints to many inequalities of the time, such as rape:

This plan came to grief. Several of the girls were unfortunately raped, others were seduced, or were hard pressed and decided that it was better to give in than to resist. 

Set in a 21st century Hades, the novella ends in a courtroom.  All of the inconsistencies and unfair judgements of the original story are presented. This will be enjoyed by anyone that enjoys a new spin on a classic story.  Also a must read and necessary edition to the feminist canon.  

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