Rebecca Harrington is a twenty-six-year-old writer living in New York City. She has worked at The Huffington Post and studied history and literature at Harvard and journalism at Columbia. Penelope is her first novel.
I promise this is not why I disliked this novel so much.
Penelope is the story of a freshman beginning at Harvard. Penelope O’Shaunessy is a curiously disengaged person; she floats into her new world without any self-propulsion. Her new roommates are the archetypal Type A social climber girl and the moody, withdrawn loner. Yawn.
The story goes into some detail about the quirks and idiosyncrasies of Harvard, which is kind of interesting, except for the fact that all of the characters are just so unlikeable. Penelope drifts from one interaction to the next without ever appearing to make any choices. We follow her from chorus tryouts, to the student paper to an amateur theatre production. She meets the wrong boy, then the right boy… or is he? The classes she takes are ridiculed with a very heavy hand (‘Images of Shakespeare’ is a class that studies exactly that) and I just did not find any humour in the story at all.
I don’t often give up on a book halfway, but if it hadn’t been for Cannonball Read, I would have done just that with this one.
Yours truly, Lady Cordelia