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McLaren, Clemence. Waiting for Odysseus.

McLAREN, Clemence. Waiting for Odysseus. Simon & Schuster, Pulse. 176p. c2000. 0-689-86705-0. $5.99. JS

Four silent women from the original epic are finally given a voice in this simplified modern retelling of the fabled travels of Odysseus. Helen of Troy, depicted in the early chapters as a beautiful young girl whose many suitors vie for her hand, is left in the shadows when the charming Penelope beguiles Odysseus instead. Later in Ithaca, years after their son Telemachus is born, Odysseus's sense of honor propels him into the Trojan War. The story line begins here with Penelope waiting patiently for her husband's return from a series of harrowing adventures. The second chapter finds Odysseus succumbing to the wiles of the sorceress Circe who puts him through the ordeal of Hades and a meeting with the prophet Tiresias as a condition to resuming his journey back to Ithaca. Having survived the whirlpool Charybdis and the six-headed monster Scylla, he washes up on the shores of Kalypso, the lovesick nymph. The sea god Poseidon, an uncle whom Odysseus has angered, threatens to harm him until the goddess Pallas Athena intervenes on his behalf. Finally, with the help of his son Telemachus and the guidance of Pallas, Odysseus lands on his home shores again and is recognized by his childhood nurse, Eurycleia. Through the eyes of the watchful and benevolent Eurycleia, Odysseus and Penelope subject each other to tests of fidelity, a series of disguises and some trickery, before finally revealing their identities. The first-person perspective of the women in this novel makes for a lively tale of love and deceit, trust and betrayal, with Odysseus a seeming pawn in the hands of women who often seem more powerful than he does. The author creates suspense in the final pages as the reader anticipates the manner of the final test and revelation. Young readers who lack either the time or the energy for the original Odyssey can still gain an appreciation for this timeless tale of journey and adventure. Phyllis LaMontagne, Spencer, MA
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Author:LaMontagne, Phyllis
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2004
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