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The Penelopiad
Margaret Atwood
publisher: Querido, Amsterdam, 2005



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In Homer's 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. 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 contemporary twist to the ancient story - and drawing on a range of sources, in addition to The Odyssey -
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?'

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BOOKS BY MARGARET ATWOOD:

Surfacing
1972
A mythic exploration of one woman's spiritual pilgrimage.
The Handmaid's Tale
1985
The story of Offred, one of the few women in the Republic of Gilead left with functioning ovaries, whose only function it is to breed. If she deviates, she will be hanged as a dissenter. But Offred is determined to find a way out.
The Penelopiad
2005
Penelope and Odysseus - with a twist.
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