Tag Archives: The Penelopiad

September means

We’re all back from our summer vacations, with the exception of Dea, who up and moved to Santa Barbara, where she is enjoying things like avocado blossom honey and working with data and its integrity somewhere in a building made of terra cotta and surrounded by palm trees. We miss her already!

You’re probably not ready for books about full-fledged autumn yet, though I did seriously consider a reading list of books on how to cook pumpkins. Instead, I thought I’d go with a more transitional booklist, and give you some suggestions of books that reinvent something old, with a twist. (I promise, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies isn’t on this list, though, I’m pretty sure I’m obligated to talk about New Moon: The Movie eventually.)

The Penelopiad by Margaret AtwoodThe Odyssey, told from Penelope’s point of view, in Atwood’s trademark, pithy style.
Specimen Days by Michael CunninghamWalt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass is the leitmotif for this novel about past, present, and future New York City, with a bonus ghostly Whitman appearance.

Drood by Dan Simmons

This novel explores the still-unsolved mysteries of the famous author’s last years and may provide the key to Dickens’s final, unfinished work: The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Blindspot: by a Gentleman in Exile and a Lady in Disguise by Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore

“Tis a small canvas, this Boston,” muses Stewart Jameson, a Scottish portrait painter who, having fled his debtors in Edinburgh, has washed up on America’s far shores. Eager to begin anew in this new world, he advertises for an apprentice, but the lad who comes knocking is no lad at all. Fanny Easton is a lady in disguise, a young, fallen woman from Boston’s most prominent family. “I must make this Jameson see my artist’s touch, but not my woman’s form,” Fanny writes, in a letter to her best friend. “I would turn my talent into capital, and that capital into liberty.” Liberty is what everyone’s seeking in boisterous, rebellious Boston on the eve of the American Revolution.

Blindspot kept me up reading late last night. Jameson and Fanny are fabulously written characters, and getting lost in the world of pre-Revolution Boston is a great reason to sacrifice sleep.