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A novel by Margaret Atwood
Hardcover - 216 pages (October 11, 2005)
Knopf Canada ; ISBN: 067697418X

A clever take on an old tale, namely Homer's Odyssey Atwood's short book manages to be critical without being abrasive. It definitely makes for an interesting complement to a text that has become central to so many literary and narrative traditions. In addition, there are a great many clever little nods to Greek myth and subsequent literature. I especially appreciated the sometimes-overt, sometimes-sly references to Tennyson.

The best thing about the book is certainly the character of Penelope as the narrator: speaking from Hades and interrupted on occassion by contributions from a chorus consisting of her murdered maids, around whom the story also revolves. The anachronism is handled skillfully, as aspects of modern and classical fiction sit side by side in the same way as Penelope's observations about the ancient and modern world. This is the work of a confident author.

The book is concise to the point that there isn't an enormous amount that can be said about it save that it's clever and well worth the time it takes to read.


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