Saturday, February 10, 2007

Ithaka; Adele Geras

Written by Adele Geras and published in 2005 by Harcourt, Ithaka is young adult fiction that tells the story of the Odyssey from the viewpoint of those left behind. I do recommend reading this summary if the original epic before beginning Ithaka. Odysseus' wife Penelope & son Telemachus & the royal household are forced to carry on without him as the war rages.

Years and years go by. The war ends. Still Odysseus doesn't return. Penelope & her father in law & their faithful servants continue day to day, month to month. Patiently waiting for Odysseus to walk up from the beach as though he'd gone for a swim. The children grow. Teenage worries & crushes & obsessions come and go like the tide.

How long can you maintain faith and hope in the face of impossible odds? How long can you stop your world from spinning in the hope that long ago promises can be kept? How long can you live in the past before you're forced to acknowledge that moving forward is in the best interest for all?

I enjoyed the first part of this book quite a bit. Youth, divided loyalties, crushes, lusts and personal growth fill the first sections of this book. I really struggled with Penelope starting in the middle when the suitors move in to their home. Penelope looses her focus, becomes distracted. Her involvement with Leodes I completely understood & was sensitively dealt with. However, she stops weaving the tapestry and focuses on Laertes' shroud. She dithers. Despite earlier promises & previous years of dedication- the tapestry barely makes progress.

So I started to wonder about the depth and truth of her devotion to Odysseus. In other words- why did she stop weaving the tapesrty when she was warned that as long as she wove it Odysseus would be safe and would return to her? Has her dithering actually delayed Odysseus' progress towards home? Penelope turns into both someone I could identify with (as a woman whose husband goes to war and must wait at home) and someone I felt needed to continue weaving that damn tapestry no matter how lost I felt- forcing Odysseus and the Gods to push on towards Ithaka.

In the end I enjoyed this book quite a lot. All of the central characters were normal, everyday, flawed people muddling their way through a difficult situation. Penelope, both dithering and dedicated. Telemachus angry yet loyal. Melantho, now, she deserved a fate worse than she got, IMO. There was truly a scheming, faithless..Never mind. Read Ithaka if you really want to know why I think Melantho got off light. This was a library book, but I may look for one to keep. I already have Troy by Geras & it'd be nice to have the set.


Jenster said...

I always loved Greek mythology. I may have to check the library out for this one.

Marg said...

Wow, this sounds interested. I read The Odyssey a while ago and loved it.

Thanks for the review.

Bookwormom said...

Jenster- It was good, Penelope just dragged on me.

Marg- I like the Odyssey too.

Mailyn said...

OMG I LOVE Greek and Roman mythology. Used to read them books by the tons when I was young-er. LOL. Just stopping by to say hi!!!!!!!!! I've been gone with the wind myself so I just wanted to spread some love while I am back for today.


beastieeyes23 said...

I really didn't like troy but this one was better. The same thing happens though, as in troy. the main characters are so unlikeable