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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atwood does it again with another brilliant book
The only thing I found disappointing about this book is that it came to an end. I therefore immediately went out and bought The Edible Woman so that I could stay in Atwood's world a bit longer.
Margaret Atwood has such a wonderful way of telling the story about an ordinary woman - she isn't beautiful beyond imagination, she doesn't have fantastically wonderful...
Published on 13 Aug 2005 by Lilly Penhaligon

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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely classic Atwood, insightful as ever.
'Lady Oracle' tells the story of serious feminist writer Joan Foster, (the Lady Oracle of the title) and her secret life as gothic-romance writer Louisa Delacourt, from Joan's life from a chubby child, her conflict with her mother who wants the perfect daughter, her battle to lose weight, bizarre affairs, (one with a Polish Count and another with an artist named 'The...
Published on 13 Aug 2004 by F. Knight


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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely classic Atwood, insightful as ever., 13 Aug 2004
This review is from: Lady Oracle (Paperback)
'Lady Oracle' tells the story of serious feminist writer Joan Foster, (the Lady Oracle of the title) and her secret life as gothic-romance writer Louisa Delacourt, from Joan's life from a chubby child, her conflict with her mother who wants the perfect daughter, her battle to lose weight, bizarre affairs, (one with a Polish Count and another with an artist named 'The Royal Porcupine',) eventual marriage to the pasteboard Arthur, and the bizarre way in which she leaves the mundanity of her marriage to quite literally begin a new life.
The novel opens with the fantastic line 'I planned my death carefully; unlike my life, which meandered along from one thing to another, despite my feeble attempts to control it' and goes on to explain that the narrator has faked her own death in order to escape both her stillborn marriage and a blackmail attempt by the mysterious Fraser Buchanan.
It then continues with vivid, moving, and highly amusing accounts of her childhood. The narrator was a fat person until her late adolescense, and here Atwood gives a voice to the underrepresented and oppressed overweight of today's society. Joan's battles with her mother, of which her body was the battleground, are telling of a society where it is unacceptable to be anything except a perfect ten.
Atwood then alternates the narrative of the story with extracts from the gothic romance her narrator is writing: 'Stalked by love.' It is in these extracts, and the narrator's thoughts on them, that Atwood's trademark insightfulness truly flourishes, as even the most militant feminist finds herself confessing that what they really want is a Rochester. I particularly like the quotation 'Escape wasn't a luxury for (my readers), it was a necessity ... and when they were too tired to invent escapes of their own, mine were available for them at the corner drugstore, neatly packaged like the other painkillers.'
What more can I say? This gives a fantastic insight into the world of the fat woman in modern society, and makes the reader of romance novels consider their guilty pleasure in a new light. Atwood at her thought-provoking best.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atwood does it again with another brilliant book, 13 Aug 2005
By 
Lilly Penhaligon (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Lady Oracle (Paperback)
The only thing I found disappointing about this book is that it came to an end. I therefore immediately went out and bought The Edible Woman so that I could stay in Atwood's world a bit longer.
Margaret Atwood has such a wonderful way of telling the story about an ordinary woman - she isn't beautiful beyond imagination, she doesn't have fantastically wonderful relationships, a model husband and unrealistically good looking children, she is simply Joan Foster, with long red hair and, as one of the characters puts it "built like a brick nuthouse". But she doesn't need to have all the above things because Margaret has given her character a wonderfully touching and extraordinary life. Extraordinary because it is so ordinary!!!
Atwood strikes exactly the right balance in this book between moments of raw pain (Joan's childhood and relationship with her mother) and comic moments. I really really loved this book. It doesn't really have a proper ending but it wouldn't have because this is a snapshot of someone's life so it wouldnt tie up neatly at the end as you would not then be left wondering how Joan gets on.
Some people have moaned that Atwood includes too much detail in her novels but I think this is tosh - the details make it more real - who wants to read a book where the characters don't eat, sleep, burp, become obese, look ugly, in short, they don't behave like real people.
She has a wonderful way of describing relationships, especially the tensions and misapprehensions but by far the most chilling, Atwood can convey exactly the relationship between a bully and a victim and this is a common theme in her novels. It can be very unnerving to read especially if you yourself have been through similar experiences but then again, that just goes towards making the book more "real".
I would DEFINITELY suggest that you read this book, get it out of the library for free if you want to read it first before commiting yourself to buying it, but I reckon that most of you will end up with a copy of your own as you will want to read it again and again!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of her early novels., 1 Mar 2011
This review is from: Lady Oracle (Paperback)
I first read a Margaret Atwood novel only 2 years ago and since then I have managed to read them all as they are mostly fasinating.Since her international breakthrough novel puplished in the early 80s the Handmaiden's Tale, her novels have mostly been of the highest quality (the Penolopiad is an exception).Her early novels dating from the 60s while interesting and showing a promising talent can at times seem dated and a little lacking in action.
This novel however is still as fresh as when it was first puplished in the 1970s.It also shows some of the later themes of Atwood's novels. The novel starts towards the end of the story and gaps are filled in to bring the reader up to date.The main female character has had a bullied upbringing and exotic affairs (Cats Eye and The Robber Bride ). There is even a subplot consisting of the main character's own fiction making an appearance on the page (The Blind Assassin).If you have already read and enjoyed Atwood's later novels this book is well worth reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it, finish it, and then start it again., 12 July 2013
This review is from: Lady Oracle (Paperback)
There are a few books out there which you will want to read over and over - this one, I read and then immediately started to read again, it was just that good. I just didn't want the experience of reading it to end. In fact, I can quite honestly, hand on heart say, this book changed my life. It was this book which made me decide that I had to be a writer, and, indeed, my very first attempt at writing was a historical romance much like the ones Joan Foster pens in this, her story. There's a bit of everything in Margaret Atwood's work and I would have to say that in my opinion, it's as near to perfect as it's possible to be. Beautifully crafted, thoughtful and thought provoking, so many original and realistically depicted characters, moments of drama and comedy. She writes with a beautiful and witty turn of phrase which never misses a beat.

This is the story of Joan, a massively obese girl, who transforms herself into a beautiful (slim) writer of historical (hysterical) romances with the aid of a Polish count. She then meets up with Arthur, the "radical" who seems to err on the side of caution to be all that "out there" before transforming herself again into a poet. Like all Atwood books, I just didn't want it to end (as I have said, it can be the only book I've ever read where I finished it and immediately turned back to the start of the novel to read it again). The excerpts from the hysterical romance are just fantastic. If you are a fan of the romance genre as well as of literary fiction, you will adore this book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bounteously Depressing, 21 Nov 2011
By 
Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Lady Oracle (Paperback)
I hate to be the only negative reviewer of this book, and must add that I'm usually a big Atwood fan (apart from the dystopian fiction, which, though well written, I found too painful to get through), and have read a lot of her work, and admire her a lot. But to be honest - I really hated this book! For one thing, I found all the characters pretty dislikeable, from the self-indulgent heroine - an overweight girl and teenager who becomes a romance writer and builds up a whole double-life with a Marxist husband plus infidelity on the side - to the self-righteous Marxist husband, the flamboyant Polish Count (if he was one), the Performance Artist lover (who nearly made me throw up), the heroine's terrible fighting parents and - well, it's a while since I read the book but I can't remember liking any of the characters. The traumas of childhood were described in a more melodramatic and much less subtle way than in 'Cat's Eye', nothing really happened (apart from the heroine getting into worse and worse scrapes), the ending was completely inconclusive, and the big passages of quotes from a trashy romance that Joan the heroine was writing simply showed how boring books of the Mills and Boon kind are. She was also clearly not meant to be considered a talented poet as her poems all came to her 'in visions' dictated by an external force. All the characters seemed to me to be ghastly caricatures, and this book taught me that the Classical view that leading characters have to all have something in them that you sympathize with and something noble is in fact quite a good view to hold.

This review is not to get at Atwood, a fine writer; but I must say that it's a book I never want to read again! Not a good introduction to her work either - read 'Cat's Eye' or 'Life Before Man' first.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A book focusing on the narrator's life, 11 Dec 2013
This review is from: Lady Oracle (Paperback)
The opening of the novel is certainly gripping and immediately the reader wants to know why the narrator has planned their own death. It is this starting point that draws you in, but I'm afraid this intensity doesn't really last beyond the first few chapters.

The novel is basically about the life of the narrator, leading up to present day where the story began with revealing they had planned their own death. The plot then moves forward and shows how the narrator has dealt with this new-found isolation and whether she has in fact succeeded in fooling the world.

Whilst reading this book I was hoping for something more than just a recollection of the character's life. True, it is evident that the narrator is quite a paranoid person and the opening of the story makes more and more sense as you read on, but I found myself seeking something beyond this recollection. Perhaps a bit more action rather than reflection.

The narrator is a writer and Atwood includes excerpts from the books that she is writing. These are quite entertaining to read and provide a light-hearted escape from the development of the story, even if the books that are written are just "trashy novels". As a result, I found the main story line a little suffocating because of the emotions that the character professes and the negativity, particularly surrounding her growing up and her relationship with her mother.

This is the second Margaret Atwood novel I have read and I am convinced there are better ones out there (like `The Handmaid's Tale'). Many people have told me how great her novels are so I think I have just chosen a spanner in the works. It is not one I would recommend and think I need to read some more of her works to get a better flavour of her writing style.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Like all her stuff, 25 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Lady Oracle (Kindle Edition)
I think this must have been one of her early works. Now she gets a lot deeper. But still good.
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3.0 out of 5 stars THREE'S A JUMBLE, 14 April 2012
By 
MONTGOMERY (WASHINGTON, DC - U.S.A.) - See all my reviews
This novel, set in Toronto from late 1976 to the summer of 1978, is centered around 3 people: Elizabeth & Nate Schoenhof, a married couple with 2 young daughters; and Lesje, a paleontologist more at home with dinosaurs and fossils than with most people. The Schoenhofs have been married for 10 years and find that they are not well-matched.

Elizabeth, a rather self-assured woman and museum administrator who likes to feel she can control almost any situation and exert her influence on almost anyone, had had a relationship with Chris, a ruggedly-built man (think Grizzly Adams) who worked as a taxidermist at a downtown museum, where Lesje also works. Nate, a lawyer who left his job with a law firm to build and sell large scale wooden toys, tolerates his wife's infidelity, for he is aware that he is not enough for Elizabeth. Nor is she for him. On that point, both Nate and Elizabeth are in agreement. Eventually, Nate becomes involved with Lesje (after forsaking another woman with whom he had been having an affair), and this further complicates the lives of all those concerned.

To the casual reader, this story may seem banal, for it describes what is commonplace in most human relationships in an urban milieu. But Atwood is so skilled in exploring both the interior and exterior lives of people that the reader cannot help but become interested in wanting to know what form the resolution will take --- or if there will be any resolution at all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, witty and delightful to read, 3 Sep 2010
By 
Katie Stevens "Ygraine" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Lady Oracle (Paperback)
If I were to say that this book was the humorous story of a girl who battles with her mother, her relationships and, most of all, her weight, you would probably dismiss it as fluffy chick lit, and that is certainly what it sounds like. However, nothing could be further from the truth; this book is a perfect example of how a novel can be so much more than its plot. Margaret Atwood incorporates all these aspects typical of chick lit in Lady Oracle and treats them in a way that is intelligent, engaging, and blackly comic.

The narrator is fantastically unreliable. She spends the book developing so many different fictions of her own life to tell to people in order to disguise the truth that is is difficult to keep track of what is real and what isn't, and furthermore I could never quite work out if what Jean is relating now is just another fiction, performing herself for yet another audience. This novel reflects, distorts and echoes itself through layers upon layers of deception. However, the pleasure of reading comes not from trying to find out the truth and outwit the narrator, but from becoming lost in the lies and so being made to examine the fragmentary nature of character. Unlike a lot of books which have an idea though, Lady Oracle also has an engaging story with fascinating characters, and so I was able to enjoy the thoughts that the book inspired without having the feeling of being cheated that I get when I read a book that that seems to have been written purely to convey that idea without any thought for plot.

It sounds a bit pompous, not to mention odd for a book which involves faking one's own death, but there is a peculiar universality to the narration which speaks to the reader. My situation is very different from Jean's (my mother is lovely, thank you very much; I somehow managed to completely avoid being bullied throughout my childhood; I have never been, nor intend to be, the mistress of a Polish count; and my future husband is not a manic depressive political activist) yet I found myself identifying with a lot of the things she said. My copy of the book is filled with little pieces of paper marking memorable quotes that I particularly liked. These observations always have a wry, humorous tone to them which made the book a very good read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Atwood, 15 Jun 2010
By 
Greg in Birmingham (Birmingham, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lady Oracle (Paperback)
After more than 20 years, the story still reads fresh and new. The narator in this story is an author who has recently become relatively famous after published a novel title 'Lady Oracle.' She describes her relationships with her parents, friends and the men in her life, and we have no problem understanding how she gets into such a mess that drastic measures are needed. However, as usual, the solution only leads to more problems. This is quite a humorous look at a fictional life that in typical Atwood style could almost be true. And it's the truth within the fiction that gives this story its real impact.
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Lady Oracle
Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood (Paperback - 6 May 1982)
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