Monday, 25 May 2015

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

The Penelopiad 
by Margaret Atwood

Summary: Now that all the others have run out of air, it's my turn to do a little story-making.

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 rumors, 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 story-telling 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.
So I picked this book up after a booktuber I'm subscribed to mentioned it a few times and I started reading it today on a whim -- I just expected to read a few pages, just to see what the book was like because I wasn't really convinced I'd like it... Well, I couldn't put it down. I read it cover to cover and loved every second of it.

Why why why has it taken me this long to read a Margaret Atwood book? I've had The Handmaids Tale sitting on my shelves for ages, unread, and now I'm kicking myself because her writing is fantastic -- it totally draws you in, its honest and lyrical and humorous at times and just...dfjhldfhj! I cannot fangirl her writing enough, this book has definitely made me a fan of hers.

As for the story itself... it should be noted that I've not actually read The Odyssey yet (I've wanted to read The Odyssey and The Iliad for ages, it's just one of those things that I'm taking ages to get round to doing).

So, I don't want to talk much about the story itself, as I don't know which details are overlapping and which are purely a result of Atwood's own creativity, but I will say that the story stands on its own. You can totally read it and appreciate it with the minimum knowledge of the story it's inspired by (although, I do think I'd appreciate it more had I read The Odyssey first).

Penelope was a great narrator, she was clever and witty and, I'm not sure if Odysseus is as much of a tool in his own story, but seeing it through her perspective he came across as such an arrogant asshat who didn't deserve Penelope. And I loved the chorus chapters from the perspective of the maids with their justified anger and abundance of snark.

That's all I'm going to say about the book (it's hard to review it when I don't want to talk about the plot)... I loved it, it had me completely hooked and enamoured with the writing. I'd rate it 5 out of 5 stars.


Sunday, 24 May 2015

Weekly Wrap Up (36)

On the Blog
These are the posts from the last two weeks.

Wednesday: Lanna liked It's About Love
Thursday: Girl at War is a new favourite of Lanna's
Friday: Lanna reviews the audiobook of Amy Poehler's, Yes Please
Saturday: Julie talks events free, public surrounding BEA (including helpful subway stop info for each event)

I'll just get right onto the new books instead of my usual rambling...

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood - I've already read this one, review will be up next week.

Savages by Don Winslow - I've been on the fence about reading this one for a few years, then saw it in a shop for 50p so...

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller - I've heard such good things about this one, so I can't wait to read it.

Also, I got The Blue Between the Sky and Water by Susan Abulhawa for review on Netgalley and it sounds awesome.

What've you all been reading? 


Saturday, 23 May 2015

BEA: After-Hours

I did this post last year and when I mentioned doing it again, a lot of you were on board, so I'm going for it! Basically, there are a tooooon of events surrounding BEA each year, but what often gets neglected is the public, free events that you don't need a BEA badge for. It gives you all the extra options to find people if you don't go to parties (or to BEA), but want to hang out with people! Plus, the Javitz can be crazy, so these extra events can be really helpful. I'm also including the closest/likely most convenient subway stop for each.


Teen Author Carnival
20+ authors, 4 panels and a signing
Jefferson Market Library
425 Avenue of the Americas
West 4 ABCD Trains Subway Stop

P.S. I Still Love You Launch Party
Launch Party for Jenny Han's latest
PowerHouse Arena
37 Main Street, Brooklyn
York St F Train Subway Stop
*RSVP appreciated


Fifth Annual Bookrageous Bash
Megan Abbott, Jami Attenberg, Christine Heppermann, and Daniel José Older.
Housing Works Bookstore
126 Crosby Street
Prince Street NR Train/Broadway-Lafayette BDFM Train/Bleecker 6 Train Subway Stop


Blogger/Author Meet Up
No set details, but lots of discussion on the page

Tumblr Writers 
Katie Coyle, Ashley Ford, Julie Buntin
Housing Works Bookstore
126 Crosby Street
Prince Street NR Train/Broadway-Lafayette BDFM Train/Bleecker 6 Train Subway Stop


Fantastic Teen Fiction
Virginia Boecker, Rae Carson, Melissa Gray, Michael Buckley, Kass Morgan, and Cao Wenxaun
Books of Wonder
18 West 18th Street
18th St 1 Train Subway Stop


YA All Stars
Renee Ahdieh, Marie Lu, Richelle Mead, Carrie Ryan & Sabaa Tahir 
McNally Jackson
52 Prince Street
Prince Street NR Train/Broadway-Lafayette BDFM Train/Bleecker 6 Train Subway Stop

Paper Lantern Lit + Release Party
Celebrate 5 years of Paper Lantern Lit and the release of founder Lexa Hillyer's Proof of Forever
163 Court Street, Brooklyn


Fierce Reads YA Spring Fling Party 
Courtney Alameda, Anna Banks, Emmy Laybourne, Jennifer Mathieu
McNally Jackson
52 Prince Street
Prince Street NR Train/Broadway-Lafayette BDFM Train/Bleecker 6 Train Subway Stop

So, where will you guys be heading when the day is done at Javitz?



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