ITHAKA by Adèle Geras


Age Range: 14 & up
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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)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-15-205603-3
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2005


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