Penelope waits. And she weaves. She weaves because there is a meditation in this back and forth, this captured time like a held breath in the night. Her hands, occupied with this flying shuttle, are sure and deft yet her eyes seek the unseeing middle distances. Stillness. The burial shroud, wrapping for an abandoned father, grows beneath the weft and warp. At this loom she waits for a death and for a return.
Valentine Carter’s fierce debut, These Great Athenians gives voice to the mostly forgotten and maligned female characters of Homer’s epic The Odyssey. It is a celebratory ode to those who survive within and outside of gender norms.
Featuring voices from Circe to Athena, and Scylla to Ariadne – Carter weaves together their stories in this subtly moving and playful verse novel which asks: how do those without a voice find freedom within the world of men?
Penelope waits for her husband’s return as she weaves a shroud that foretells her doom. Scylla shares her fate as a once-beautiful nymph-turned-monster prowling the seas hungry for flesh. While the witch Circe falls for a man who will leave her.
Intimate and striking, These Great Athenians skilfully introduces the poetic voices of sixteen seldom heard Homeric women and their stories.
These Great Athenians is out on 7 October in the UK. Pre-order a copy now using the links below.