Review: Penelope's Daughter by Laurel Corona

by Laurel Corona

Release Date:  October 5, 2010
Berkley Trade

SYNOPSIS:  The award-winning author of The Four Seasons retells The Odyssey from the point of view of Odysseus and Penelope's daughter.

With her father Odysseus gone for twenty years, Xanthe barricades herself in her royal chambers to escape the rapacious suitors who would abduct her to gain the throne. Xanthe turns to her loom to weave the adventures of her life, from her upbringing among servants and slaves, to the years spent in hiding with her mother's cousin, Helen of Troy, to the passion of her sexual awakening in the arms of the man she loves.

And when a stranger dressed as a beggar appears at the palace, Xanthe wonders who will be the one to decide her future-a suitor she loathes, a brother she cannot respect, or a father who doesn't know she exists... 

* * * * * * * * * * * *
REVIEW:  Penelope’s Daughter, written by Laurel Corona, takes Homer’s The Odyssey and flips it on its head…focusing instead on what happened to his wife Penelope, daughter Xanthe and son Telemachus during his absence, as narrated to the readers by Xanthe while she weaves the story of her life on her loom.

Most of us know of Homer’s The Odyssey from required reading in school, but I have to admit that I don’t remember very much of the experience. I can say now that if it was as entertaining as Penelope’s Daughter I might have paid a lot more attention! It just took a few pages and I was caught up in Xanthe’s world with Corona’s entrancing style of writing and exquisite descriptions.

My most favorite part was how the author began each chapter with Xanthe at the loom describing the colors she would use to represent a person, event or place that had meaning to her.  

On her brother, Telemachus: “He is woven in green, with little tufted knots of white, like the olive in bloom where we used to play when I was six and he was eight years old.”

On her life in Sparta: “I took a charred ember from the fire and, going to the hidden side of my weaving I darkened what I had woven about Sparta until it was caked in black. Sometimes from the front of the loom I stare where I know the black is hiding, imagining little holes burning through the cloth. We think we can control the story we present to the world, but the truth always lies in the background, awaiting its chance to illuminate and scar.”

This was my first read by Laurel Corona, but you can be bet I will be back for more! Penelope’s Daughter was one phenomenal book and I highly recommend it!


Looks like we won’t have too long to wait for another novel by Laurel Corona…Finding Emilie is due out on April 12, 2011!! It sounds really good, so I’m super excited about it!

SYNOPSIS (via Stanislas-Adélaïde du Châtelet, known as Lili, is a thoughtful and serious girl growing up as the ward of a Parisian noblewoman, Julie de Bercy. Madame de Bercy, a friend of Lili's dead mother, the brilliant and controversial scientist Emilie du Chatelet, has a daughter, Delphine, the same age as Lili. Though they could hardly be more different, the two girls grow up as sisters, steadfast friends, and confidantes.

Lili can never understand Delphine's fascination with frivolous things like beautiful dresses, perfect curtsies, and fairytale endings. She wants the world of the mind, a life in pursuit of the truth about nature and people. Instead, she boards with Delphine at a convent school where independent thinking is punished, and she endures excruciating comportment lessons with one of the Châtelet relatives, the prim and judgmental Baronne Lomont. It is clear to Lili that she is expected to be satisfied with having no goals in life other than to be a supportive wife, charming conversationalist, and pious mother.

Home at Maison Bercy with warm and free-thinking Julie, whom both Lili and Delphine call Maman, Lili is encouraged to be herself and use her mind. Julie is one of a small group of salonniéres in Paris, noblewomen who open their homes at certain times each week to artists, writers, and the group of French thinkers known as philosophes. Here Lili is exposed to the radical and revolutionary ideas of people such as famed naturalist George-Louis LeClerc (better known as Comte de Buffon), encyclopedist Denis Diderot, and philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

But Julie cannot indefinitely hold off the pressure to conform to social expectations. In their teens, both Delphine and Lili must prepare for presentation at Versailles, followed quickly by marriage. As the world closes in on Lili, she decides that knowing more than the sketchy details she has been told about her mother's life may provide her with a better sense of herself. Hoping that this knowledge will help her chart her own future, with Delphine's loyal help, Lili ventures out to find the people and places central to her mother's story.

Set in France during the last decades before the French Revolution, Finding Emilie explores the complicated tensions between the frivolity of court and the serious pursuit of scientific knowledge, and the perils of being caught between the demand for conformity and the need to release and fulfill one's genius. Through Lili's discoveries, Emilie du Châtelet speaks not just to her but to us, about remaining true to ourselves regardless of our circumstances.

For more information, please visit Laurel Corona's WEBSITE

FTC DISCLOSURE:  This book was graciously sent to me by the author and I am very thankful for the opportunity.



  1. Oooooh ... This sounds absolutely AMAZING! I will definitely have to check it out! I love myths and fairy tales that are retold - and I consider the Odyssey as part of that myth category :o)

  2. I have this one on my bookshelves. Thanks so much for your review. Now I'm really excited to get started. I read the author's first novel, The Four Seasons. I enjoyed it, but I'm hoping for even bigger things the second time around. :)

  3. I really enjoyed the Odyssey and loved Penelope's Daughter. I have her The Four Seasons that I hope to read soon and can't wait for Finding Emilie.

  4. I can't wait to start this book! It arrived the other day... yippee :) Glad you enjoyed it so much. Have a great weekend!

  5. Great review, it does sound like an interesting tale. Can't help wondering what happens to her

  6. Amy, this sounds great. I can't wait to read it!

  7. Both books sound like they will be interesting reads. It makes the story more rounded to present it from a different perspective. I look forward to reading it.

  8. Thanks to everyone for your support. I hope you LOVE the book!

  9. This looks like a new author I'm going to become addicted to!!

  10. Thank you for your review. I enjoyed reading it. I want to read the book more than ever. When I read about weaving for some reason I think of Rapunzel. I should think of Rumpelstiltzken, right? Oh boy, I've forgotten how to spell Mr. Rump's name. Your review makes the book seem like a beautiful romance. Great, great review.

  11. This sounds great! I'll definitely have to check it out.


Related Posts with Thumbnails

Passages to the Past
All rights reserved © 2013

Custom Blog Design by Blogger Boutique

Blogger Boutique