The second instalment of Catherine Webb’s Songs of Penelope series (written under the name Claire North) continues to imagine the life and inner world of Penelope, queen of Ithaca. Set towards the end of Odysseus’s twenty-year absence, the plot revolves around the final cursed generation of the house of Atreus. Orestes and Elektra appear on Ithaca pursued by Furies. The siblings are closely followed by Menelaus (who receives the most fantastical treatment in the whole novel), Helen and a host of other familiar faces.
In the last instalment, it was Hera who narrated. This time it is Aphrodite, which results in the novel (even when the goddess of love does not speak) being replete with references to sensuality, softness and beguiling femininity in a manner that occasionally feels gratuitous or laboured. North