>> Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Publication Date: 1988
Challenges: 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.