Although not very familiar with the works of Atwood, I was attracted to this piece of her work because I love the book (and the myths) that the story is drawn from. Homer’s iconic poem The Odyssey is the basis for Atwood’s version of events told from the perspective of Penelope, wife of Odysseus. The book is part of the internationally acclaimed Myths Series that groups some of the finest present day writers as they provide a contemporary take on some of the oldest, most enduring stories in history.
When Odysseus went off to fight in the Trojan War, he left behind his wife Penelope and their newborn son to rule the island of Ithica. While Homer’s tale focuses on Odysseus and his trials on his journey back from the War, Atwood shifts the focus to Penelope. What was she really up to those 20 long years? Did she truly remain faithful to her king? As the narration in the book shifts from Penelope herself to the 12 maids that were cruelly executed by Odysseus on his return, Atwood opens our eyes and minds to the possibilities of what might have happened back home while the hero was away. Keeping with the ancient Greek art of storytelling, Atwood weaves this tale through prose, speech, musing, song and poetry - and even through modern day courtroom transcripts! The result is a modern day day time drama - set in ancient Greece! After all, the 20 years that the book spans is plenty of time for a soap opera run!