Thursday, August 2, 2007

Cat's Eye - Margaret Atwood: A Review

Title: Cat's Eye
Author: Margaret Atwood
Date Finished: August 2, 2007
Pages: 462
Rating: 4.25/5

I've wanted to read this book for quite some time and finally bought it a few months ago from Amazon just because. I had recently joined a Yahoo book club, so I nominated the book and it was picked for this month's read. I feel really bad that I've been Internet-less, so I haven't even been able to join the discussion yet, but oh well.

Cat's Eye is the story of Elaine, a middle-aged painter who reflects upon her childhood as she returns to the city she grew up in, Toronto, for her own art showing. Ok, so it sounds like Iris from The Blind Assassin, but if I am remembering correctly the difference is that we see Elaine's childhood from her perspective then, not necessarily as a reflection. I know I'm talking in circles, but to me her memories did not seem colored by age but fresh as if she was experiencing everything right then and there. It's also been almost a month since I read this book (don't believe the post date and time, its wrong!). :)

Basically Elaine doesn't really fit in anywhere as her family uproots a lot when she is younger. When her family does finally settle down, she is befriended by a group of girls. In the following years, the group grows to include the ring-leader, Cordelia. Thus the story truly begins as Atwood explores the cruelties of youth, the illusions of power, and how all of these experiences shape a person. I think that the relationship between Elaine and Cordelia is one that many readers will understand or recognize; I know that some of the elements were very familiar to me--a little too familiar.

Recommendation: I really enjoyed this book, and for me it was more accessible than the other two Atwood books I've read. For that reason, I think perhaps this book might be enjoyed by a wider range of readers, but for the same reason it lacked a little for me. Atwood's prose is beautiful as always, her character development is spot on, her ability to draw in the reader is strong, but it just didn't seem to have the same edge as The Handmaid's Tale and The Blind Assassin. But, I think what I really love about Atwood, is that I never know what to expect from her, which makes me really excited to keep reading her books.


Nymeth said...

I like the sound of this, and I've been meaning to read more Margaret Atwood after The Penelopiad... since it's more accessible, perhaps I should start with it.

Trish said...

Nymeth - Yes, I thought this one was pretty accessible, but then again, I probably missed a mess of deeper messages! :) So far, though, I haven't met an Atwood book that I didn't like. I don't know very much about The Penelopiad, though.

C said...

I just finished reading the book. I love Atwood; stories that take place in Toronto always create a deep nostalgic feeling in me.

I agree with you about the deeper meaning. It's as if the final 2-3 chapters were truncated. Something is missing--although the curtness of her prose always amazes me. Crisp-- as some would say.

I knew from the beginning there would be a shift in role (power balance), but in the first half of the book it was tormenting to see how E was being tortured by C and the other girls. As you said in your review, it felt all too familiar, perhaps too familiar.

I love the Blind Assassin, but I also recommend the Robber's Bride and Alias Grace. One of her more recent books, Moral Disorder, also contains some really excellent short stories.