Ithaca by Claire NorthIthaca by Claire North
Series: The Songs of Penelope #1
Published by Redhook on September 6, 2022
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mythology
Length: 12 hrs 34 mins
Pages: 400
Format: Audiobook
Purchase at or Audible
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From the multi-award-winning author Claire North comes a daring reimagining that breathes life into ancient myth and gives voice to the women who stand defiant in a world ruled by ruthless men. It’s time for the women of Ithaca to tell their tale . . . .

Seventeen years ago, King Odysseus sailed to war with Troy, taking with him every man of fighting age from the island of Ithaca. None of them has returned, and the women of Ithaca have been left behind to run the kingdom.

Penelope was barely into womanhood when she wed Odysseus. While he lived, her position was secure. But now, years on, speculation is mounting that her husband is dead, and suitors are beginning to knock at her door.

No one man is strong enough to claim Odysseus' empty throne—not yet. But everyone waits for the balance of power to tip, and Penelope knows that any choice she makes could plunge Ithaca into bloody civil war. Only through cunning, wit, and her trusted circle of maids, can she maintain the tenuous peace needed for the kingdom to survive.

This is the story of Penelope of Ithaca, famed wife of Odysseus, as it has never been told before. Beyond Ithaca’s shores, the whims of gods dictate the wars of men. But on the isle, it is the choices of the abandoned women—and their goddesses—that will change the course of the world.

I have loved everything I’ve read by Claire North, so I’m not sure why it took me so long to pick up Ithaca. Maybe the mythology/ Ancient Greece setting just didn’t grab my attention and seemed so different from the others I’ve read by North. But I ended up loving it.

It has been seventeen years since Odysseus left to fight in the Trojan War, leaving Penelope and their son, Telemachus, behind in Ithaca. Penelope is left to fend for herself and her son and to run the kingdom with the help of her advisors, men who of course think they are both more competent and powerful than Penelope. They’re wrong. Penelope is intelligent and cunning and she and her maids wield their power subtly and behind the scenes.

Hera, goddess of women, marriage and childbirth, is our narrator and is perfect for the part. She’s sarcastic and funny and allows us to see all that’s going on, but from her own viewpoint as a goddess who both has power and needs to keep her head down. Through her eyes, we see Penelope and her maids, Clytemnestra, and Elektra, even Telemachus, now almost a man. We’ re privy to Hera’s conversations with Athena and Artemis and her feelings about the other gods, including Zeus.

I love North’s writing style- her descriptions, the conversations, Hera’s ramblings. Parts of Ithaca are laugh out loud funny, while one specific part had me crying. I will say that I don’t know how close it sticks to the original mythology – I’m not as familiar with the stories as I should be.

About Claire North

Claire North is the pen name for the Carnegie-nominated Catherine Webb, who also writes under the name Kate Griffin. Catherine currently works as a theatre lighting designer, teaches women’s self-defense, and is a fan of big cities, urban magic, Thai food, and graffiti-spotting. She lives in London.

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