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Lady Oracle Paperback – 6 May 1982
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If you feel safe only with "nine to five" reality, you'll probably not enjoy her books. But if you'd like to lift off, try her (COSMOPOLITAN)
Shrewd, funny, intelligent, honest, ironic (SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY)
'Funny, poignant, and briskly energetic.' (Newsweek)
'A really gifted writer ... alternately satirical and lyrical.' (TIME)
'A very funny novel, lightly told with wry detachment and considerable art.' (Washington Post Book World) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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.
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.
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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