In Homer’s account in The Odyssey, Penelope - wife of Odysseus and cousin of the beautiful Helen of Troy - is portrayed as the quintessential faithful wife, her story a salutary lesson through the ages. Left alone for twenty years when Odysseus goes off to fight in the Trojan war after the abduction of Helen, Penelope manages, in the face of scandalous rumours, to maintain the kingdom of Ithaca, bring up her wayward son, and keep over a hundred suitors at bay, simultaneously. When Odysseus finally comes home after enduring hardships, overcoming monsters and sleeping with goddesses, he kills her suitors and - curiously - twelve of her maids. In a splendid contemporary twist to the ancient story, Margaret Atwood has chosen to give the telling of it to Penelope and to her twelve hanged Maids, asking: "What led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to?" In Atwood’s dazzling, playful retelling, the story becomes as wise and compassionate as it is haunting, and as wildly entertaining as it is disturbing. With wit and verve, drawing on the storytelling and poetic talent for which she herself is renowned, she gives Penelope new life and reality - and sets out to provide an answer to an ancient mystery.
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Nominated for the inaugural 2005 Man Booker International Prize, which recognizes one writer for his or her outstanding achievement in fiction, Margaret Atwood is the author of more than thirty-five internationally acclaimed works of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. Her numerous awards include the Governor General’s Award for The Handmaid’s Tale, and the Giller Prize and Italian Premio Mondale for Alias Grace. The Handmaid’s Tale, Cat’s Eye, Alias Grace, and Oryx and Crake were all shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, which she won with The Blind Assassin. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, has been awarded the Norwegian Order of Literary Merit and the French Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and is a Foreign Honorary Member for Literature of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She lives in Toronto.From AudioFile:
In this sly updating of a famous Greek myth, Odysseus's wife, Penelope, gets to tell her version of events. What was she really up to while Odysseus traveled the wine-dark sea? Margaret Atwood's Penelope is a smart, wry, and witty storyteller. Laural Merlington dramatizes these characteristics admirably. She reads Penelope's narration with verve and clarity, capturing the dry humor and philosophic tone that Atwood has written into the character. To add further philosophic comment, Atwood transforms the 12 wayward maids killed by Odysseus upon his return into a Greek chorus. Their words are produced by the layering of multiple tracks of Merlington's voice; it's a disembodied, comforting effect that works well, given the maids' discomforting message. A.C.S. © AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
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