The Penelopiad Review

 

 

The Penelopiad

Hot_ChocolateHot_ChocolateHot_ChocolateHot_Chocolate

GoodReads:
Now that all the others have run out of air, it’s my turn to do a little story-making.
In Homer’s account in The 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 rumors, to maintain the kingdom of Ithaca, bring up her wayward son, and keep over a hundred suitors at bay, simultaneously. 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 splendid contemporary twist to the ancient story, 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?” In Atwood’s dazzling, playful retelling, the story becomes as wise and compassionate as it is haunting, and as wildly entertaining as it is disturbing. With wit and verve, drawing on the story-telling and poetic talent for which she herself is renowned, she gives Penelope new life and reality—and sets out to provide an answer to an ancient mystery.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK | Amazon US

**The links to the book used in this post are Affiliated links, should you click on my links and use them to purchase this book, it will gain me some monies, and will cost you nothing, but gotta disclose this first.**

 

My Review

Canongate feeds my addiction to their Canon myths, and I couldn’t be happier with my dealer of choice lolol.

But honestly, I do love fiction like this, where it’s quiet, where it demands attention to every page, and it reworks an idea that people haven’t dared to touch in centuries. Not to say there haven’t been adaptations of The Odyssey but this was my first read of one and I was so delighted that this was focused on Penelope.

She was held to such a high standard in some myths, the epitome of what a wife should be. But she was also seen in another light as someone who was unfaithful to her husband, and ‘evil’ for it. [Despite the fact that we know that man was the definition of like a man-slut. But hey, double standards…FUCK THE PATRIARCHY, okay back to my review]

Atwood is a fantastic author, I have always admired her, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is such a provocative and important read to me personally, and so I knew she would do this story justice.

It’s not about the plot, it’s not about action or really the Odyssey, this is about Penelope, her background, her life as the wife of someone who was so admired, and what her presence faces in consequence of it all.

Atwood knocks it out of the park with her take of Penelope and the twelve maids who serve as the traditional Greek chorus interspersed throughout the novel.

Penelope is able to speak freely which is representative of our more modern times [well how it should be, but I’ll get off my soapbox] she’s able to present to us how things were seen through such a male perspective and how this cost twelve maids their lives. But she’s not entirely free of persecution in this, she must ‘live’ with her own guilt.

The story is short but it’s a languid read, you don’t have to rush through it, you can take your time on the story, and reflect in what Penelope is laying out our feet.

I adored this, and because of its slow pacing and the fact that the drive and focus of this is just Penelope being able to tell us her side of things, it’s not a novel with a particular plot.

I loved it, it was amazing for me, not for everyone, but amazing for me nonetheless and I gave it four huge cups of hot chocolate. Thank you to Canongate for the copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Consolations ARC Review

 

 

Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words

Hot_ChocolateHot_ChocolateHot_ChocolateHot_Chocolate

GoodReads:
In Consolations David Whyte unpacks aspects of being human that many of us spend our lives trying vainly to avoid – loss, heartbreak, vulnerability, fear – boldly reinterpreting them, fully embracing their complexity, never shying away from paradox in his relentless search for meaning.
Beginning with ‘Alone’ and closing with ‘Withdrawal’, each piece in this life-affirming book is a meditation on meaning and context, an invitation to shift and broaden our perspectives on life: pain and joy, honesty and anger, confession and vulnerability, the experience of feeling overwhelmed and the desire to run away from it all. Through this lens, procrastination may be a necessary ripening; hiding an act of freedom; and shyness something that accompanies the first stage of revelation.
Consolations invites readers into a poetic and thoughtful consideration of words whose meaning and interpretation influence the paths we choose and the way we traverse them throughout our lives.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK | Amazon US

**The links to the book used in this post are Affiliated links, should you click on my links and use them to purchase this book, it will gain me some monies, and will cost you nothing, but gotta disclose this first.**

 

My Review

This book is a bit of a different one compared to most I review. It’s not poetry, nor is it a novel, it’s a book of prose, a book with words, about words. These pages are filled with many words that we use every day and gives us pause now upon them.

It’s great, it’s the perfect meditative read. You can seek these words at your own pace and leisure, to explore one word a day or more, and to quietly meditate and seek solace in them as you do.

At the end of the long day, I looked forward to prising open these pages to seek out words to help me reflect and I can only say that if you’re the sort that likes to do that as well that you’ll truly enjoy reading this.

The words chosen were all great examples of useful if not everyday common words that we can sometimes not necessarily take for granted, but forget that they are important to us.

I tabbed this book, each word that spoke to me the most I put a yellow tab [provided by Canongate, thank you!] so that I could come back and reflect on it.

This book will now have a place on my nightstand so that I can look back on it as needed to help ease my soul every now and again.

Vulnerability

is not a weakness, a passing indisposition, or something we can arrange to do without. Vulnerability is not a choice…To run from vulnerability is to run form the essence of our nature — to close off our understanding of the grief of others.”

[Pg.171, this quote was taken from an ARC copy and may not be correct in the final copy]

Thank you to Canongate for sending me an ARC of this in exchange for my honest review. Four large cups of hot chocolate for this wonderful book of prose.

 

About the Author

David Whyte

Poet David Whyte grew up with a strong, imaginative influence from his Irish mother among the hills and valleys of his father’s Yorkshire. He now makes his home in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.
The author of seven books of poetry and three books of prose, David Whyte holds a degree in Marine Zoology and has traveled extensively, including living and working as a naturalist guide in the Galapagos Islands and leading anthropological and natural history expeditions in the Andes, Amazon and Himalaya. He brings this wealth of experience to his poetry, lectures and workshops.
His life as a poet has created a readership and listenership in three normally mutually exclusive areas: the literate world of readings that most poets inhabit, the psychological and theological worlds of philosophical enquiry and the world of vocation, work and organizational leadership.
An Associate Fellow at Said Business School at the University of Oxford, he is one of the few poets to take his perspectives on creativity into the field of organizational development, where he works with many European, American and international companies. In spring of 2008 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Neumann College, Pennsylvania.
In organizational settings, using poetry and thoughtful commentary, he illustrates how we can foster qualities of courage and engagement; qualities needed if we are to respond to today’s call for increased creativity and adaptability in the workplace. He brings a unique and important contribution to our understanding of the nature of individual and organizational change, particularly through his unique perspectives on Conversational Leadership.

Author Links

Website | Twitter

 

 

To Calais, in Ordinary Time

 

ratingiconratingiconratingiconhafrating

GoodReads:
Three journeys. One road.
England, 1348. A gentlewoman is fleeing an odious arranged marriage, a Scottish proctor is returning home to Avignon and a handsome young ploughman in search of adventure is on his way to volunteer with a company of archers. All come together on the road to Calais.
Coming in their direction from across the Channel is the Black Death, the plague that will wipe out half of the population of Northern Europe. As the journey unfolds, overshadowed by the archers’ past misdeeds and clerical warnings of the imminent end of the world, the wayfarers must confront the nature of their loves and desires.
A tremendous feat of language and empathy, it summons a medieval world that is at once uncannily plausible, utterly alien and eerily reflective of our own. James Meek’s extraordinary To Calais, In Ordinary Time is a novel about love, class, faith, loss, gender and desire—set against one of the biggest cataclysms of human history.

 

My Review

This is a testament to the detail and research Meek has done. The novel is brimming with the nuances and vernacular of 1348 and it reads so atmospherically because of that, that you feel you are in the time period.

This also means though that it took me a while to get into a rhythm when reading this book because of the medieval vernacular. This also made me lose focus on the story itself at times, which was a shame as the story was quite a remarkable one. A group of archers, a proctor, a runaway noble, and a mysterious brother and sister [no spoilers from this gal!] are all pulled into events that seem inescapable. The plague feels as if it’s chasing them in a way, always on its heels and it gives a nice feeling of tension while you’re reading, always wondering when it would catch up with them.

There are diverse characters in terms of personalities and orientations. Hab, in particular, captured my interest and was probably my favorite character.

At times it was rather hard to feel sympathetic for the characters who were of the noble class, but I have to hand it to Meek, they were accurately portrayed. In those times they did truly think themselves superior to their serfs/servants/workers.

Because of the effort to remain true to its origins, it was, at times, hard to connect with the characters, much the same reason for the distraction from the story; the writing style and atmosphere of 1348.

The middle part really lagged for me, but getting to the last third or so of the book, it felt like everything just paced so well and you wanted to know how this was going to turn out. This is a book to read in leisure and I highly recommend it to those with a love of historical fiction.

I applaud Meek on the work he’s put into this.

Three and a half cups of coffee from me!

This book is available as of today, so, HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY!

Thank you to Canongate for a copy of this book to read in exchange for my honest review.

Buddha Da Review

ratingiconratingiconratingiconratingicon

GoodReads:
Anne Marie’s dad, a Glaswegian painter and decorator, has always been game for a laugh. So when he first takes up meditation at the Buddhist Center, no one takes him seriously. But as Jimmy becomes more involved in a search for the spiritual, his beliefs start to come into conflict with the needs of his wife, Liz. Cracks appear in their apparently happy family life, and the ensuing events change the lives of each family member.

My Review

Reading the synopsis I was intrigued by Buddha Da and I felt the need to see what exactly made up this book. Was it a book of spiritual growth? Was it more like the Glaswegian Eat, Pray, Love? Or was I about to find myself learning more about Buddhism than ever before? [And to be frank, it wouldn’t be that hard, my knowledge of it is minimal]

I can happily say it was a little of all of that and completely different than I expected, all rolled into one.

The story swivels from three POVs of the family members, Jimmy our Buddha Da, Liz his wife, and Anne Marie his daughter.  But the POVs do tend to stick more with Liz and Anne Marie.

Jimmy has felt a need to change something in him, and at first, all he thinks is that he is enjoying a bit of meditation, a man notorious for never finishing his projects, no one imagined he would take Buddhism to heart so much more than anything else. However, he’s met by resistance from his wife as he goes deeper into a world she can’t follow, her own journey is on a different path.

This isn’t just a book about the division of a family, and it’s not that Buddhism is the cause of it, it’s how people so often can change and sometimes it’s necessary to make a few mistakes along the way to do so. It’s a coming of age story of Anne Marie, it’s a spiritual journey for Jimmy, and it’s a journey to desires of the heart and mind for Liz.

I really loved this book and it made me quite the sentimentalist while reading it, and I can honestly say I love how the characters all had to find out their own truths without anyone giving them answers. The ending was perfect and I enjoyed reading this so much I knocked it out in a day.

If you’re a fan of books all about personal journeys and don’t have a problem with understanding Glaswegian speak [ 😉 ] then I recommend this book to you!

Four cups of coffee from me! This new paperback edition is stunning as well so doesn’t hurt to have a pretty book inside & out.

Thank you to Canongate Books for sending me a copy to read and review in exchange for my honest opinion.