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Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood

>> Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: 1988
Pages: 462
Herding Cats #2

I read this book for the Herding Cats Challenge based on the recommendation by
3M. I really liked this book, but it's difficult to explain why. There's a lot that happens, but it's told in such a spare quiet remembrance of things past manner that it seems like there's not much happening at all.

Elaine Risley is a middle aged painter who's visiting her childhood home of Toronto for a retrospective showing of her work. While there she thinks back on her life and the book is the thoughtful telling of her current visit to Toronto intermingled with the intricate story of her past.

I liked Atwood's writing style in this one. The only other book of hers I've read is The Handmaid's Tale, but I intend to read more. When Elaine is telling about being a little girl and her friends it really struck a chord with me. Like Elaine I was more comfortable playing with my brother and his friends than I was with the girls in school and in our neighborhood. Atwood does an excellent job of telling the story of young girls and their peer pressure and cliques. Elaine's early childhood was not typical. Her father was an entomologist and the first 8 years of her life were unusual due to her family's traveling lifestyle. When the family settles in Toronto Elaine is introduced to the world of little girls and some of the ways that friends can be cruel to each other.

It's a different book, disturbing in places, amusing in others. My guess is that it's one that you either really enjoy or really dislike. I enjoyed it.


Mary 9/09/2008 8:26 AM  

Hmm, sounds interesting!

Kay 9/09/2008 10:20 AM  

Margaret Atwood is one of those author's that I keep meaning to read more of, but don't. I read ALIAS GRACE by her many years ago. Really liked it. This one has been on my radar for a time. Glad to hear your thoughts on it.

Julie P. 9/09/2008 12:40 PM  

This is my book club pick for next month!

Lori L 9/10/2008 9:08 AM  

I loved Cat's Eye when I first read it years ago. In fact, I like everything Margaret Atwood writes.

Kristen DeDeyn Kirk 9/10/2008 1:41 PM  

Oh boy -- reading about mean girls brings up some painful memories! I would guess Margaret Atwood picked the topic in part because most of us can relate.

Kristen at

Tara 9/10/2008 5:37 PM  

I love Margaret Atwood!

Your last passage is so true. My bookclub read this and I was the only one who liked it. Everyone felt as though it was anticlimactic, and as though nothing happened.

SuziQoregon 9/11/2008 10:18 AM  

Mary: it was. Different, but interesting. I felt the same way about The Handmaid's Tale.

Kay: I've heard Alias Grace is very good. I'm looking forward to reading more of her books.

Julie: It should make for some good book club discussion.

Lori: so far, I've liked both of her books that I've read.

Kristen: I think most women have some 'mean girls' experiences in their past somewhere.

Tara: but was the book club discussion a good one? Usually it's the polarizing books that generate the best discussions.

3m 9/12/2008 6:47 AM  

So glad you liked this as well!

I love Atwood, but I finished Oryx and Crake about a month ago and hated it.

One of several I want to read next is Alias Grace.

Bookfool 9/12/2008 4:25 PM  

Still haven't gotten to Atwood, but I need to. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed this one. I'm pretty sure I have a copy I got at the library sale (but it's buried in the former office -- which I hope to unbury, soon; wish me luck).

Mercy's Maid 9/13/2008 9:11 AM  

I really enjoy Atwood's writing. In some ways this book was very easy to relate too -- the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) manipulations and meanness of girlfriends.

I thought it was an interesting look at how the main character's childhood shaped the rest of her life.

samantha.1020 9/14/2008 11:15 AM  

I've only read The Handmaid's Tale as well. Looks like I need to pick this one up and give it a try.

SuziQoregon 9/17/2008 10:57 AM  

3M: I keep hearing that Oryx and Crake is not that good.

Bookfool: hope you manage to unbury it soon! Good luck.

Mercy's Maid: thanks for stopping by. I think many women can relate to the portrayal of young girls and how they can treat each other.

Samantha: You should read it. It made me want to read more of her work.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment. I read and respond them here although not always right away. If you would prefer an email response let me know.

I do moderate comments on posts older than 14 days in order to control spam. I will approve your legitimate comments as soon as I can.

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