Book Review | Penelope’s Daughter
Title: Penelope’s Daughter
Author: Laurel Corona
I have always loved Greek mythology, and so I was anticipating that I would love Penelope’s Daughter by Laurel Corona. Corona’s writing style is engaging and poetic, and hooked me right from the beginning as she beautifully described the art of weaving on looms. From that moment on, I was eager to meet Xanthe, the daughter of Odysseus and Penelope, whom Homer left out in his epic Odyssey.
There is undoubtedly much research put into this novel, and I appreciated what felt like a genuine peek into the life of a young princess awaiting for the return of the father she had never known. Told in a first person narrative, Penelope’s Daughter is Xanthe’s coming of age in the aftermath of a glorious war. In Corona’s retelling, Xanthe is the key to Odysseus’s kingdom. Instead of pursuing Penelope’s hand for marriage, the suitors have their eyes set on Xanthe. To protect her daughter, the clever Penelope fakes Xanthe’s death and sends her to live with the infamous Helen in Ithaca.
In Ithaca, Helen treats Xanthe as a beloved daughter, causing Helen’s own daughter Hermione to act in jealousy toward Xanthe. Under Helen’s tutorage, Xanthe is encouraged to experience a sexual awakening and to pursue a destiny that is not tied to a man’s wishes for her. Xanthe’s future is dependent upon whether or not her father will return home from the war, but it’s been 20 years since Odysseus last set foot in Ithaca.
I really liked Penelope’s Daughter for about the first half of the book. After awhile it started to drag and I just wanted it to end. Once Odysseus returned, I found myself wishing I had never wanted to read this in the first place. I thoroughly loved The Odyssey when I read it in high school and then college, and truly hated how Corona portrayed the relationship between Penelope and Odysseus in the last few pages. This is not the right book for you if you loved the Odysseus in the Homeric tale.
*I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel.*