A companion piece for the author's Troy (2001)-and another
definitive example of storytelling so character-driven that nearly
everything happens either offstage or within the hearts and minds
of, mostly, the female characters. The dominant theme is "waiting
beneath thickening clouds of doubt." As sad, gentle Penelope waits
for her beloved Odysseus to return from Troy, her hot-headed son
Telemachus waits to turn the age at which he can set out in search
of his father, fuming at a crowd of leering, bestial suitors who
wait impatiently for Penelope to choose a new husband. Even the dog
Argos waits, his life unnaturally prolonged by one of the several
gods and goddesses who wander freely in and out of view. Meanwhile,
for the younger characters, there's plenty of growing up, of
falling into both love and lust, of anger, tears, hand-wringing,
intrigue and anguish-though it all seems distant, conveyed with
almost ritualistic language in Geras's measured prose. Her attempts
to counter the gathering monotony with occasional breaks into
modern idiom (Telemachus: "These bastards can't be allowed to get
away with stuff like that"), a gratuitous murder and even a secret,
tender lover for Penelope are ineffective; not even the concluding
bloodbath following Odysseus' eventual return dispels the inertia
of this leaden take. (Fiction. YA) (Kirkus Reviews)
ITHAKA tells the story of the women left behind after the end of
the Trojan War. While Odysseus is slowly making his way home,
overcoming terrible obstacles sent by the gods, his wife Penelope
does not know whether he's alive or dead. How long will she be able
to withstand the pressure of the numerous suitors who seek her hand
(and Ithaka) - and will she remain as faithful as mythology states,
or might she fall in love with one of them? The vivid colours of
life on the abundant island of Ithaka are evoked with magic and
warmth, as Penelope and those around her tell their own incredible
stories. Interspersed with wonderful verse retellings of Odysseus'
adventures, this is a thrilling novel with a contemporary feel.
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