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The Penelopiad

Narrated by: Laural Merlington
Series: The Myths
Length: 3 hrs and 20 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4 out of 5 stars (187 ratings)

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Summary

For Penelope, wife of Odysseus, maintaining a kingdom while her husband was off fighting the Trojan War was not a simple business. Already aggrieved that he had been lured away due to the shocking behaviour of her beautiful cousin Helen, Penelope must bring up her wayward son, face down scandalous rumours, and keep over 100 lustful, greedy, and bloodthirsty suitors at bay....

And then, when Odysseus finally returns and slaughters the murderous suitors, he brutally hangs Penelope's 12 beloved maids. What were his motives? And what was Penelope really up to?

©2005 O.W. Toad Ltd. (P)2012 Canongate Books

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting concept, not enough depth

If you have read the Odyssey and know your mythology there's not a lot more here to engage a reader. The concept of telling the story from a different angle is interesting but could have been expanded more. I didn't really feel any emotion for Penelope, just absorbed her story. having said that, portraying the maids as a Chorus was very clever and the narration very good. Interesting listen.

7 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Tongue and cheek feminist outlook of mythology

This is pretty hilarious. Once again, the master of feminist prose Margaret Atwood has created a modern day version of Penelope from the Greek mythology of Odysseus in which she is no longer alive. She's rather outspoken, feisty and sly attempting to live with her brutish husband while on Earth. At the same time, her hatred for Helen of Troy has seeped into her afterlife as well. I love the ending talking about liposuction and heels. A fun listen.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Alright I suppose

I didn't really enjoy this one that much. A nice idea but never really developed into anything.

On the general quality of this audiobook however: awful. The woman's voice was irritating enough before they put the horrendous treatment on to turn her into the chorus. That was so uncomfortable to listen to, I tried to skip through whenever "they" were speaking!

11 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • L
  • 21-10-16

Short but sweet exploration of Penelope

Any additional comments?

I thought this was a solid novella, which was both funny and moving. I felt a lot of unexpected sympathy for characters, and felt the narrator, as well as Atwood, really drew on Penelope's negative emotions well, in a way that didn't make her seem whinging or unlikeable.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A retelling of a story that adds new facets.

This is very much a Tragicomedy that more than a novella wants to be a satirical feminist play. For those of us that enjoy the heroic retelling of this stories this will come at first like a cold shower or boiling hot one, but if you stay and continue reading you will see an unmasking of the romanticised cruelties required for our heroes to be so virile and disdainful of others lives and the bitterness that that injects into women's lives no matter what their social status.
The Penelope we encounter in these pages is honest but guarded with her honesty even now that she is just a spirit, she is also bitter and resentful of her times and what was imposed on her, she dislikes to this day Helen for making her life more difficult, but we see she can not escape her tender feeling for Odysseus though she knows him better than most, perhaps she forgives him because he returned. When she looks at our world she still sees it as dangerous and chooses not to reincarnate.
The twelve maids are a chorus that interrupts and interjects their views and represent women in the lower classes and slaves. They were defenceless and without rights or pity from anyone, ponds in a tragedy but even though slain in the tragedy, that was not the tragedy. They sing of their humanity and reject their status as symbols.
I must confess that I love Margaret Atwood, Her mind like her writing are exceptional and she never disappoints.

14 people found this helpful

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Surprisingly addictive!

If you could sum up The Penelopiad in three words, what would they be?

addictive, funny, captivating

What about Laural Merlington’s performance did you like?

The voices of the handmaidens were so chilling. I honestly felt a shiver when listening alone and in the dark!

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Vogon chorus ruining what could be a great story

Unfortunately I am unable to return this audiobook because I purchased it some time ago, however I am completely unable to listen to it. The maids chorus is a great story telling device, however the artificial treatment put on the narrators voice is so false sounding, it gave me a nails on a chalk board sensation. The closest thing I can compare it to is the Vogons from the TV adaptation of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. What a waste of a credit

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interesting short story

I like the story and the unique stance of looking at the oddeysey from a female point of view. but I struggled with the narrator.

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The Hanged Maids

I really enjoyed the audiobook, it’s a great retelling of Homer’s Odyssey.

The only fault I have is the verses where the audio is just layered instead of a couple of different voice actors.

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Eh... kinda boring

I've studied the Odyssey a fair bit and found some of the characterisation of Penelope and Odysseus kinda strange. Being wily and outsmarting people was the foundation of Heroism, and directly linked to Hermes i.e. the trickster, so branding it as a negative trait seems really anathema to Classical myth. The relationship with the maids was under explored and really not central to the story as I had expected from the blurb.