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Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood

Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood

I read this years ago – before my blog, and then it popped up on Borrowbox, so I thought I would listen to it.

Here’s the blurb…

Cat’s Eye is the story of Elaine Risley, a controversial painter who returns to Toronto, the city of her youth, for a retrospective of her art. Engulfed by vivid images of the past, she reminisces about a trio of girls who initiated her into the fierce politics of childhood and its secret world of friendship, longing, and betrayal. Elaine must come to terms with her own identity as a daughter, a lover, and artist, and woman—but above all she must seek release from her haunting memories. Disturbing, hilarious, and compassionate, Cat’s Eye is a breathtaking novel of a woman grappling with the tangled knots of her life.

I like all of Atwood’s writing, but my favourite are (what I call) her women’s novels (Blind Assassin, Alias Grace, etc). I like being inside their heads and following them through life. For me, this one was about female friendships and how the effects ripple through a life. As you would expect, the writing is beautiful.

A review

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Old Babes in the Wood – Margaret Atwood

Old Babes in the Wood – Margaret Atwood

I am a Margaret Atwood fan although I haven’t read many of her short stories.

Here’s the blurb …

A dazzling collection of short stories from the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments, stories that look deeply into the heart of family relationships, marriage, loss and memory, and what it means to spend a life together

Margaret Atwood has established herself as one of the most visionary and canonical authors in the world. This collection of fifteen extraordinary stories–some of which have appeared in The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine–explore the full warp and weft of experience, speaking to our unique times with Atwood’s characteristic insight, wit and intellect.

The two intrepid sisters of the title story grapple with loss and memory on a perfect summer evening; “Impatient Griselda” explores alienation and miscommunication with a fresh twist on a folkloric classic; and “My Evil Mother” touches on the fantastical, examining a mother-daughter relationship in which the mother purports to be a witch. At the heart of the collection are seven extraordinary stories that follow a married couple across the decades, the moments big and small that make up a long life of uncommon love–and what comes after.

Returning to short fiction for the first time since her 2014 collection Stone Mattress, Atwood showcases both her creativity and her humanity in these remarkable tales which by turns delight, illuminate, and quietly devastate.

I listened to this (borrowed from Borrowbox) and some of the stories were narrated by Atwood herself. My favourite story was My Evil Mother. Impatient Griselda is hilarious (particularly in a post-Covid world). All of the stories are excellent and I suspect the Nell and Tig stories (the seven stories about a married couple) might be autobiographical.

Here’s an interview with the ABC.

A review

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Hag Seed – Margaret Atwood

Hag Seed – Margaret Atwood

I don’t think I have read an Atwood novel that I haven’t liked. So I was keen to read this – I did ask at my local Dymocks and they hadn’t heard of it, which is very upsetting. Anyway this is a re-telling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest (part of the Hogarth Shakespeare project). I know nothing about The Tempest, so I read the wikipedia summary (although having read that I think The Collector by John Fowles might have some Tempest allusions – there is a Miranda, a man who wants to be called Ferdinand, but gets called Caliban – I do wonder now what my English Lit teacher was thinking not to mention Shakespeare?)

Here’s the blurb …

The Tempest is set on a remote island full of strange noises and creatures. Here, Prospero, the deposed Duke of Milan, plots to restore the fortunes of his daughter Miranda by using magic and illusion — starting with a storm that will bring Antonio, his treacherous brother, to him. All Prospero, the great sorcerer, needs to do is watch as the action he has set in train unfolds.

In Margaret Atwood’s ‘novel take’ on Shakespeare’s original, theatre director Felix has been unceremoniously ousted from his role as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre. When he lands a job teaching theatre in a prison, the possibility of revenge presents itself — and his cast find themselves taking part in an interactive and illusion-ridden version of The Tempest that will change their lives forever.

I found this to be quite the page turner – and I am quite sure I wouldn’t have found the original to be so enthralling.

It is such a clever, fun, modern interpretation (and the prisoners offer insightful commentary about the original).

As with all Atwood novels, it is beautifully written – her choice of words is extraordinary (it must be the poet in her). I wish she would write for the Austen project, which apart from Northanger Abbey has been quite disappointing.

More reviews …

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/oct/16/hag-seed-review-margaret-atwood-tempest-hogarth-shakespeare

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/shakespeare-goes-under-margaret-atwoods-microscope-in-hagseed/news-story/d21be2b437ca5c86a5f2365b1d08747d

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