Oh Penelope, left alone for quite a long time while her husband Odysseus went off to fight wars and deal with gods. Penelope was just a teenager when she was married to Odysseus. She was in the shadow of her cousin Helen and was then taken away from her family and off to Ithaca once she was married. She had a son. Life seemed good, or at least alright, until men were called to arms to go to war.
Penelope was left by herself. She didn’t know anything about running a household, but she decided to do her best.
After her husband was gone some time, everyone assumed he was dead. Penelope didn’t want to think this. She had not dreamed of his ghost. Suitors started to show up. They were young. They were boisterous. They were around her son’s age. They all wanted to marry her for her money and her estate, but she didn’t want to marry any of them.
Odysseus did make his way back, as we all know. Penelope arranged a contest for the suitors, which Odysseus won, disguised. Penelope knew it was her husband, but let things play out. She once again had her husband and things went on, even into the afterlife.
What I liked
I have never actually read the Iliad or the Odyssey. They’re considered “epics.” I like poetry, but I don’t like poetry that much. Maybe some day I will read each of these epics, but that day is not today. Despite the fact that I have never read these, I know large parts of the story line. Penelope was a character, but not necessarily one in the spotlight. The story wasn’t really about her, although she was definitely a part of it. I liked that this book was about her and her side of the story.
What I didn’t like
I love Margaret Atwood, but this was one of those books that was difficult to get through. There was poetry mixed in with the text, which I admit to not thoroughly reading. Penelope’s story seemed rather thin, but this was a short book. There wasn’t necessarily enough time to develop Penelope’s story further. Her story is famous and already developed to a point. This book is more like an addition to what we already know of Penelope. I liked that I have more insight into Penelope, but it’s not really deep enough for me.
Penelope is definitely quite the faithful woman.
If you were in her situation, would you have waited?
Do you feel sorry for Penelope?