A Reader's Diary

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

More new acquires and review of The Penelopiad

My latest Amazon order of 4 books arrived today:
  • Collapse by Jared Diamond (non-fic; just released in paperback)
  • The Ancestor's Tale by Richard Dawkins (non-fic; biology/evolution: "A reverse tour through evolution")
  • Grave Secrets and Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs (fiction; mystery/crime/thriller).

I own later ones in this series by Reichs, but I want to read the books in order. The protagonist is a forensic anthropologist. The new TV series "Bones" is based on these books. Having taken a course in forensic anthropology myself, I find these books fascinating; plus I can never resist a good mystery.

Amazon included the latest issue of READ magazine with my books. It has an article in it, "The Myths Series and Me" by Margaret Atwood (available online). Which brings me to today's review...

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

This is the story of The Odyssey told from the perspective of Odysseus's wife Penelope. It follows her life story and offers a different take on the killing of the twelve maids in particular.

The more you know about Greek mythology and Homer's work the more you will enjoy this book, but most people know enough of the stories of the Trojan War and the Odyssey to appreciate this story. Penelope's feminist perspective is fresh and interesting, much like the many retold fairytales published recently. It is a quick and fun read, though not a happy story.

A hint to students and teachers: this would make a great comparison story when reading the Odyssey (I can imagine the essays now...). Atwood's use of a Chorus as in Greek drama would also be interesting to students. Overall I recommend this book to everyone (within age-appropriateness, of course).

http://www.ReadMagazine.ca has an excerpt of The Penelopiad posted. The series website is http://www.TheMyths.ca

And the book was printed on recycled paper, which is always appreciated. All books should be, really.

Happy reading!


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