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Review: The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

I thought this book was never gonna get over here (why do Brits always get the good stuff first....sigh).

Atwood does the Odyssey from the point of view of Penelope. It alternates first person prose with Greek choruses (chori?) by the twelve maids Odysseus killed. I really liked the formatting but some of the characterizations bugged me.

1) Helen is very beautiful but a bitch. Penelope is very plain but good-hearted. Please check your cliches at the door.

2) Was Penelope faithful? 2/3 of the book says yes, 1/3 says no, and it doesn't seem to clear to me either way. This is supposed to spark equality debate, I think. Does she lose brownie points if she does have sex? Well since she compains about the Suitors so much I would think so--insert "No means no" argument here.

3) Odysseus: I think we need more than "he liked to talk and she liked to listen." Seriously, if the dude kills twelve of your maids, and you go to bed with him, and enjoy it, um...what's up with both of you?

Verdict: Excellent fodder for discussion. Like the formatting. More than that? Not really.

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