I find Penelope to be just the right kind of name. It's not too frilly, it's not too plain, it's just right. It's got a historical background and famous namesakes, and it sounds fresh and fun. Plus, it has super cute nickname options: Penny, Lola, Poppy, Nellie, Pen.
I think it's safe to assume we all recognize Penelope from the Greek myth Odysseus. She patiently awaited the return of her husband, Odysseus, who went to war. Meanwhile, many suitors tried to marry her, claiming that her husband was either dead or would never come back. This is one Greek story with a happy ending, as the two were reunited and their son became a man.
Her name derives from a kind of duck, which is said to have protected her as a baby. Although, it is also possible it derives from robin, or pene, and the meaning would be "weaver," which could be accurate as Penelope was said to have spent her time weaving.
Penelope ranked at #169 in 2011 and #200 in 2010, which rose from #946 in 2001. I'm not quite sure what was responsible for such a healthy rise in popularity. It could be all the P- nicknames becoming popular, such as Poppy and Pippa, or it could be Penelope Cruz, whose popularity as a celebrity is soaring. It could even be a lingering fondness for Penny Lane, although there are still more places you may have heard the name from. There's a lot going on in the celebrity world (Penelope Athena, Tina Fey's daughter), in media, and online to keep Penelope feeling inspired. There were a total of 1,535 baby girls born in 2010 named Penelope.