LONG LOST REVIEW (LLR): The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

Long lost Reviews (LLR) is a  monthly featured hosted by Ally @ Ally’s Appraisals where bloggers are encouraged to tackle their review backlog with book reviews that have been sitting there for a long time. Reviews can range from in-depth analyses to one sentence statements with no pressure applied. To learn more and see participating blogs visit Ally’s blog here.

Published: 18th June 2014

Publisher: Text Publishing

Pages: 177

Format: Ebook (purchased)

RRP: $11.39

4/5 Stars

 In a splendid contemporary twist, Margaret Atwood tells Penelope’s story.

In Homer’s account, Penelope is the constant wife. It is she who rules Odysseus’s kingdom of Ithaca during his twenty-year absence at the Trojan War. She raises their wayward son and fends off over a hundred insistent suitors. When Odysseus finally returns-having vanquished monsters, slept with goddesses and endured many other well-documented hardships-he kills the suitors and also, curiously, twelve of Penelope’s maids.

Margaret Atwood tells the story through Penelope and her twelve hanged maids, asking: ‘What led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to?’ It’s a dazzling, playful retelling, as wise and compassionate as it is haunting; as wildly entertaining as it is disturbing.

The Myths series gathers a diverse group of the finest writers of our time to provide a contemporary take on our most enduring myths.


If there was ever a prime suspect for Long Lost Review (LLR), it’s my review of The Penelopiad . I read this book back in 2020 as part of the Canadian based Read-Eh-Thon. I can remember being so excited when I learnt about the book because I ADORE mythology and have enjoyed some of Margaret Atwood’s books in the past.  I know I loved the book, because I gave it four stars and I can remember liking it’s feminist take. However, two years later, my review of this book never made it past the initial stages of planning (i.e. formatting of the post) and I can’t really remember much about the book at all! So below is what I can remember, and my very short and sweet recommendation of this book.

If you like mythology, and have read Homer’s Illad and the Odyssey, I think you would enjoy this short mythological novella. Because to understand Atwood’s brilliance and how she has twisted and played with the story, you really need to have a firm grasp on what the original tale was.

Likwise, this novella would not be something I would recommend to someone just starting out with Atwood’s books. The language used, the stylistic choices and even the story itself are rather different to her other texts because they replicate, twist and mock historical myth retellings. From memory, this story wasn’t the easiest to get into, and I remember it taking a chunk of the story for me to familarise myself with Atwood’s writing style and what she was doing with the story. Also the subject matter, being Greek mythology, is vivid, graphic and not suited to all readers.

That’s not to say that I don’t recommend this novella, for it is well worth a read, but I highly recommend you read some of the trigger warnings and familarise yourself with the story of Penelope and Odysseus before you pick up this one.

For the Read-Eh-Thon (Canadian based readathon) The Penelopiad marked off the following prompts:

  • A book that has red on the cover.
  • Something that’s not a novel = it’s a mythological novella.


To purchase a copy of THE PENELOPIAD, visit the following online retailers:


To learn more about Margaret Atwood, visit the following social media pages:

Margaret Atwood’s website | Twitter | FACEBOOK

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