Intelligent, witty and delightful to read,
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.