From the multi-award-winning author Claire North comes a daring reimagining that breathes life into ancient myth and gives voice to the women who stand defiant in a world ruled by ruthless men. It’s time for the women of Ithaca to tell their tale . . . .
Seventeen years ago, King Odysseus sailed to war with Troy, taking with him every man of fighting age from the island of Ithaca. None of them has returned, and the women of Ithaca have been left behind to run the kingdom.
Penelope was barely into womanhood when she wed Odysseus. While he lived, her position was secure. But now, years on, speculation is mounting that her husband is dead, and suitors are beginning to knock at her door.
No one man is strong enough to claim Odysseus’ empty throne—not yet. But everyone waits for the balance of power to tip, and Penelope knows that any choice she makes could plunge Ithaca into bloody civil war. Only through cunning, wit, and her trusted circle of maids, can she maintain the tenuous peace needed for the kingdom to survive.
This is the story of Penelope of Ithaca, famed wife of Odysseus, as it has never been told before. Beyond Ithaca’s shores, the whims of gods dictate the wars of men. But on the isle, it is the choices of the abandoned women—and their goddesses—that will change the course of the world.
I think it’s abundantly apparent to all that follow me that I love a good mythological retelling and Ithaca by Claire North is no exception!
This is the first book in the Songs of Penelope trilogy and is told through the eyes of Hera, queen of the gods and protector of women.
I loved seeing Penelope and the other women through Hera’s eyes. She speaks of the women so fondly, just like a mother would. We see their actions through her softened gaze and we experience Hera’s pride in their strength and sorrow in their failures or misfortune.
Ithaca really showcases how hard it would have been for Penelope to keep this land and her solitary title, especially when nobody was sure if Odysseus was still alive after a number of years. Also, how hardy the women, children, and elderly were, as they were the bulk of what made up Ithaca once all the men went to war. Though there were struggles, attacks, and ill intent aplenty, Penelope did a fantastic job providing for her people under the circumstances. Odysseus gets all of the glory while Penelope kept his land and people as safe as she could whilst he went on his adventures, committing adultery and seeking his own fame.
Claire North writes with a gilded tongue, the prose seems decadent but entirely unpretentious at the same time.
The narrator, Cardin Walker-Booth, speaks with a lushness that captures the elegance of the time period.
The only hitch in my reading was that at moments, the pacing could be a bit slow, but it was usually paced very well. My audiobook kept glitching, usually right when I wanted to get through those slow parts. All in all, it was a wonderful experience, and those things didn’t hamper the full effect of the novel.
Thank you to Orbit /Redhook and Hachette Audio for taking me along for the ride!