Penelope Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Penelope

Penelope is a story about a cursed girl who finds herself turning personal insecurities into strengths. At the heart of the story is Penelope and the individuals that make-up her daily life as she grows from an insecure girl into an endearing woman. Franklin Wilhern, Penelope's father, is the result of a generational curse that leaves his daughter with the appearance of a swine, completed with a rounded pig nose and floppy-long ears; the great-great-great-grandfather, Ralph Wilhern, had an affair with Clara, a maid in his parents' home. After learning of this disgrace and the potential of an unborn child, the relationship ended in Clara's suicide. Furious, the mother, the village witch, took revenge on the Wilhern family. It all began with the curse that the first born Wilhern daughter would look like a pig and would embarrass the family name in the same fashion that her daughter had been shamed.
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Then the story follows Penelope's young adult years which is little more than a series of dates, on the verge of a business interview, to find her a husband. In traditional fairy-tale fashion, the curse can only be lifted once Penelope finds someone from her same social class that loves her as their own. Jessica Wilhern, Penelope's mother, employs Wanda, a relationship and marriage expert, to find suitors. Penelope finds the process daunting because it ends the same each time: the gentlemen is impressed with the dowry, inquires via a meeting with her mother, and then flees the house after meeting her.

Unfortunately, rumors of Penelope's abnormalities are the height of Lemon's agenda. He is a journalist that has been attempting to get a photo of the pig-headed girl since her birth, having dared to hide himself in the Wilhern house and beaten-off by Jessica, losing an eye in the process. Lemon manages to capture Edward Vanderman, the last man to entered and quickly exited the Wilhern mansion. He also convinces Max Campion, the son of a rich property guru gone broke from excessive gambling, to interview with Penelope and take a photo using a microscopic camera.

A majority of the story revolves around the events of Penelope falling in love and experiencing the town, people included, around her father's estate. Jessica is immediately impressed with Max, Campion being old money, and interviews him; later meeting Penelope and learning the she is a genuinely good person. Rejecting Lemon's offer, Max spends his days trying to win Penelope over while reinventing himself into the musician he had been before the gambling addiction.

Word finds its way to Jessica that Max had originally been working for Lemon, launching Penelope into a full-blown rebellion. She manages to escape from home, using her mother's credit cards to get a hotel room, and eventually submitting photographs of herself to Lemon in exchange for the money he would have paid a private investigator. Penelope explores this new world, a scarf covering half her face, filled with all new sights, smells, and sounds. A healthy dose of fortune unleashes Penelope to the public eye, ultimately setting her free of all her insecurities. She walks through the park, speaks French, drink her first beer at a pub with a new friend, Annie, and becomes independent.

The story ends with a mismatched wedding to Edward, a last resort to remove the nose. Penelope leaves him at the altar and removes the curse herself; the curse is lifted when she professes to be proud of her nose. Her and Max are in love and spend their free time together, aside from Penelope teaching elementary school and him a budding musician.
Best part of story, including ending: I really like this story because of its humor and writing style.

Best scene in story: My favorite scenes(s) are with Penelope and listening to her narrate her life as if it were a joke.

Opinion about the main character: I like that Penelope is different on the outside but very relatable on the inside.

The review of this Book prepared by Matthew Benton a Level 1 Blue Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of Penelope

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 10%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 30%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 40%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 20% Tone of book    -   humorous or laughable FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   fantasy story on current Earth Romance    -   Yes Romance plotlets:    -   breaking curse so can fall in love Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Identity:    -   Female Profession/status:    -   artist Age:    -   20's-30's Really unusual traits?    -   Physically sick


Earth setting:    -   20th century Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   no torture/death How much dialogue?    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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Marilyn Kaye Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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