Monday, May 23, 2016

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

My first Margaret Atwood book, read for the Once Upon a Time reading challenge and... I'm unimpressed.

But I guess I should add a disclaimer first: I'm not what you'd call a 'sophisticated reader'. Perhaps I was in Secondary School/IB when I was actually considering literature as a uni major (never seriously though, since my heart was pretty much set on business) and did my EE on Endo Shusaku. But not now. Now, all I want is a good story well told.

The Penelopiad is a retelling of The Odyessy from Penelope's point of view. And to me, the entire story was very bitter in tone. Everyone in the story is portrayed as a liar or proud or just plain unlikable EXCEPT for Penelope, who's the victim in all this. But she's not that likeable to me, because of the whole bitter thing.

To be sure, the retelling was interesting, but I don't really buy it. I like the original, where Odysseus and Penelope were both equally masterful weavers, both literally and in the plots they wove. This version... Is just strange. The Helen of Troy as Penelope's cousin was definitely interesting though. (And I found Helen more likeable than Penelope, even though I'm pretty sure that's not supposed to be the case)

Oh, and I didn't get the twelve maids as the Greek Chorus thing. Probably because I'm an ignoramus, but it just felt like Margaret Atwood wanted to be smart, and I started skipping them halfway through. I didn't really connect with them or see anything new from the choruses I read. Perhaps there was something in the later half, though the lecture thing and trial thing I skimmed through didn't really have it either.

Overall, this was a disappointing read. It's a pity too, because parts of it were enjoyable. But I didn't understand the Greek Chorus, and the bitterness throughout the whole thing was unpleasant.

Anyone know any mythology retellings that they'd recommend instead?

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