The Odyssey told by Penelope, Circe, Calipso and the other women

Original title: L’Odissea, raccontata da Penelope, Circe, Calipso e le altre

Author: Oliva, Marilù

Publication Date:

February 2020



Original language and publisher

French | Solferino

Territories Handled

Netherlands, Scandinavia

Territories Sold

Romania (Trei)
Turkey (Epsilon)
Greece (Kedros)
France (Michel Lafon)


Historical Fiction

The Odyssey told by Penelope, Circe, Calipso and the other women

Original title: L’Odissea, raccontata da Penelope, Circe, Calipso e le altre

Author: Oliva, Marilù


With her refined style, Marilù Oliva gives us a new and current author’s reflection on the Odyssey, fully grasping the subversive and disruptive power of one of the most extraordinary epic poems. — Matteo Strukul

Great merit of the author who has approached the work with a poetic and musical writing. — Corriere della Sera

A perfect, poetic novel that gives a new meaning to a great classic. —Tgcom24

The result of this novel is just applause! — La Gazzetta di Reggio

A book that enchants and thus demonstrates that the Odyssey is also the love story of many women, including mermaids. — MarieClaire

Marilù Oliva is an extraordinary narrator. I have been following her with admiration for years and her versatility does not surprise me. — Brunella Schisa, Il Venerdì di Repubblica

The Odyssey is “woman”. Ulysses, a destiny guided by female protagonists. A writer narrates his journey from another point of view. — Il Corriere della Sera,  Roberta Scorranese and Marilù Oliva

Page after page, powerless, restless and incredulous but bound by adventure, we are witnessing the spectacular scenography brought on stage by Marilù Oliva. — Patrizia Debicke, Theblogaroundthecorner

Marilù Oliva tells us about the revolutionary women of Ulysses. — Massimo Marino, Corriere della Sera Bologna

Marilù Oliva has reversed the perspective in a polyphonic novel that tells the vicissitudes of the return of Ulysses. — Benedetta Cucci, Il Resto del Carlino Bologna

When Marilù Oliva decided to deal with this “classic”, it was natural for her to bring out the female voices, she who has been dealing with women for years. — Paola Naldi, La Repubblica Bologna

The topic of migrations in the Mediterranean is more intense than ever, that is the reason of the urgency to recover an ancient story, we have been reading since old times: because Odysseus is the emblem of the migrant, of the tossed-up exile, of the man in search of a land that seems ever more distant. Alongside this, Odysseus is the symbol of the traveler, of those who arrive by passion in other lands or in search of themselves.

The “Odyssey” never read before, told from the point of view of the amazing female characters who cross their path with the Homeric hero: princesses, magicians, goddesses, wives, nurses. A work of rewriting faithful to the original text, where nothing significant is omitted from the Homeric prototype, but where the narrative layout changes, to make it suitable to the taste of any modern reader, with the hero Odysseus immediately leaping onto the stage without waiting for the fifth chapter as in the original version. The narrative voices are those of the female characters he comes across during his adventure. If the ruses of the Itacean king represent only one aspect of his polymorphism, the female voices follow almost all the paradigms of woman: the frivolous and seductive female (Calypso), the wise character who uses her intelligence (Atena), the dreamer (Nausicaa), the woman who attempts self-assertion against ancient forms of patriarchy (Circe), the instinctive female (siren), the shrewd companion who safeguards the family first (Penelope).

This book is for readers of all ages and genres. This is a way to approach a founding work of world literature in its prose, fresh, enjoyable, yet philologically correct version. The same Baricco did with “his” Iliad, but with an even easier cut, where the accurate method remains unnoticed and serves only to support a pleasant reading. A good read for high school students of all levels as well.


It tells of Odysseus imprisoned in Ogygia on a whim of Calypso. Of how she, after Hermes tells her of Zeus’s will, decides to let the hero go away.
It tells of  Telemachus, son of Odysseus, who must endure the arrogant presence of the suitors in Ithaca. Of the double journey he undertakes, seeking news of his father. How Odysseus, after leaving Ogygia, remains a victim of yet another shipwreck and saw the island of Scheria.
It tells how Nausicaa, daughter of the king of the feaci, welcomes Odysseus and falls in love with him. How his father treats the stranger kindly and how the hero, after revealing himself, tells his court some of his exploits: the adventures in the realm of the lotophagi, the terrible encounter with the Cyclops, etc.
It tells of  Circe turning Odysseus’s companions into pigs and trying to enchant him in vain. How the hero manages to turn her from an enemy into an ally, so that Circe gives him advice. And  she suggests him to go to the realm of the dead.
It tells how Odysseus escapes the snares of the Sirens, who promise him the most precious gift: knowledge.
It tells how Odysseus manages to save himself from Scylla and Charybdis and from other calamities sent by Poseidon. It is told how he lost all his companions who foolishly ate the oxen of the sun. We remember the landing of Odisseoa Scheria and that the king of the feaci was so generous as to give him an escort willing to take him back to Ithaca full of precious gifts.
It is said that Odysseus, disembarked in Ithaca under the guise of a beggar, is greeted by the swineherd, who informs him of the disastrous situation of the island: the suitors are attacking his property and his wife. How the old nurse recognizes him.
It tells how Queen Penelope, exhausted by the twenty-year wait, melts with pain, but keeps a cool head. At first mistrustful, she opens up towards the stranger, she does not immediately recognize. It tells of arrogant leaders and how Odysseus, with the help of his son Telemachus and some loyalists, exterminates them one by one.

Marketing Information

  • Over 20,000 copies sold
  • English sample available

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