By (author) Margaret Atwood
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Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood
Book DescriptionElaine Risley, a painter, returns to Toronto to find herself overwhelmed by her past. Memories of childhood - unbearable betrayals and cruelties - surface relentlessly, forcing her to confront the spectre of Cordelia, once her best friend and tormentor, who has haunted her for forty years. 'Not since Graham Greene has a novelist captured so forcefully the relationship between school bully and victim...Atwood's games are played, exquisitely, by little girls' LISTENER An exceptional novel from the winner of the 2000 Booker Prize
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Book DetailsISBN: 9781853811265
(198mm x 133mm x 34mm)
Imprint: Virago Press Ltd
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 15-Feb-1990
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
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UK Kirkus Review » Elaine Risley, a prominent artist, is in Toronto for a retrospective of her life's work. Alone in the city of her childhood, her past intrudes as memories involuntarily and intensely come to the surface. The novel becomes multi-layered as everything becomes 'drenched in time'. Elaine is haunted by her childhood bully, Cordelia, but in this captivating novel the essence of childhood becomes more complex than the power struggles of bully and victim. Both Cordelia and Elaine are shown to be victims - blame becomes slippery in a society that is bent on bettering the self. Atwood's protagonists internalize the ideologies of class and gender, and both suffer as these forces mis-shape and reduce their identities and instincts. Elaine falls into self-mutilation, as she fails to fit in, unsupported by her family, though they are loving, charming and eccentric. Convention denies her very essence as she cuts out magazine images of disembodied women and receives lifeless, unnaturally shaped dolls for Christmas. Her very identity becomes blurred, disembodied, as she cultivates her tendency to faint when it becomes too unbearable: 'My eyes are open, but I'm not there. I'm off to the side.' As adulthood gives Elaine self-knowledge and success as an artist, it is Cordelia who now becomes 'off to the side', disappearing as women do as their maiden names are discarded and they become harder to pinpoint. This is a powerful novel on childhood power struggles, placed in the bigger picture of adulthood, and again in the wider context of time and place - of post-World War II Canada, a country also divided in its identity. It is also a love story to the ambivalent bonds of family and friendship, and the revelations and release given by art. It is a story of the dysfunction in all humans haunted as always by bonds of guilt, love and loss. Atwood achieves heightened emotion in great distance - as Elaine sees herself as 'happy as a clam; hard shelled, firmly closed'. There is a darkness in opening up, in trusting, as Atwood shows us that we are all the victims of others, but worse than that, we are also the persecutors. (Kirkus UK)
US Kirkus Review » Atwood's wide-screen, cautionary Handmaid's Tale (1986) confirmed the author's place in the major leagues, and here she follows up with a work of intensity and tart wit. Where Handmaid's Tale took a long, allegorical view, this latest shows Atwood working more familiar territory of nuance and character. Acclaimed artist Elaine Risley returns to Toronto from Vancouver to attend a retrospective of her work, and - as the show's opening approaches - Risley's memories of a bitter Toronto childhood blend with the exile's ironic asides about a new city up to its eyeballs in money and new clothes. Just why Risley hates Toronto so much becomes clear when we're introduced to her childhood friends. At the center of the group is Cordelia, a future bad-girl who leads the others in routine tormenting of Elaine. The subterranean world of childhood and the uncanny ability of children to inflict abuse on one another are superbly captured here, as is the sulky twilight zone of adolescence. As Elaine and Cordelia progress through school, the tables begin to turn, and in the end Cordelia - mentally unstable and confined to a "home" - finds herself at the mercy of Elaine. Along the way: finely drawn protraits of an emerging North American city in the 40's, 50's, and early 60's, with high marks going to Atwood's vivid depiction of the rituals of school, play, and friendship. All the better Atwood trademarks are here - wry humor, unforgiving detailed observation, a tart prose style - and likely to attract a wide audience. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood is the author of more than thirty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays. The Handmaid's Tale, Cat's Eye and Alias Grace have all been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and now Oryx and Crake for the 2003 Booker prize. She has won many literary prizes in other countries.
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