I wanted to like this but it was a bad start when there were odd gaps and spaces between paragraphs in the Kindle version. As this goes out via Hachette, I feel editing has been lax. Sometimes I feel there's a big 5 publisher attitude of 'our name will carry it.' Maybe it did. There's no denying Attwood is a brilliant author but this, for me, feels forced and as if she is trying too hard. It didn't flow and entice. Chapters, too, were so short it was stop-start and not a natural reading experience.
This is the one of the most profound and compelling novels I have ever read. This book really "spoke" to me and took me on a journey down memory lane. It captures the female experience incredibly well and deals with complex issues of friendship, rivalry, motherhood, and loss. Like all Atwood's books it is also incredibly well written.
The book follows the journey of the protagonist, Elaine, from childhood to late adulthood and centers primarily on Elaine's toxic relationship with her childhood "friend" Cordelia. If you are a woman, I think you will be able to see quite a lot of your younger self in Elaine. Or maybe in Grace or Cordelia.
The book constantly tugged at my heart strings and at the same time made me feel less alone and somewhat normalised a lot of my childhood experiences. You will probably enjoy this book more profoundly if you're a woman. If you're a man it will provide you with an excellent, detailed, and complex insight into the mind and struggles of the opposite sex.
If you are only going to read one of Atwood's books, read this one!
"Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life sized." Margaret Atwood, CAT'S EYE.
`Cat's Eye' is the story of Elaine Risley, a painter who returns to Toronto for a retrospect of her work and finds herself flooded by memories of her past. Probably the first half of the novel focuses on Elaine's childhood, especially the complex relationship with her `friend' Cordelia, while roughly the second half shows her growing up and coping with the difficulties of more adult relationships.
`Cat's Eye' captures the pieces of childhood, and especially the complicated power games that girls play with each other, absolutely perfectly. While reading moments of my own past came back to be, rather like the older Elaine holding her marble and suddenly remembering a past she'd forgotten (if not put behind her) such a long time ago. Never before have I read a book that truly illustrates how subtle and nasty little girls really can be while in a believable and realistic context.
If I have a criticism it's that I enjoyed the early parts of the novel far more than the later when Elaine was older, however, being eighteen, it may only be that I was able to identify with the earlier incidents far more than troubled marriages and in twenty years I may feel differently.
Overall a hugely enjoyable book that really seems to chart how women act towards one another. Perhaps it wouldn't mean quite so much to men but I think many women would recognise moments and behaviour in this interesting and absorbing novel.
I've read a number of Margaret Atwood novels and short stories and while the writing possibly isn't as well done as `The Handmaid's Tale' it's still up there with the best. A must if you're a fan, probably a good place to start if it's your first.
If you only read one Margaret Attwood book this should be it. This was the first of her novels that I read and I have been gripped by her work ever since. Cat's Eye is, on the surface, a first person documentary of a young girl's progression from childhood to her life as a moderately successful artist of a certain age. Attwood's use of stream of consciousness may confuse an unwary reader. However don't be put off. Attwood reminds us from the outset that time is not a line but more like a pool of water into which our memory dips a hand from time to time. In fact this method of writing is aptly suited to Elaine's journey through the infulences and relationships which explain the woman she has become. It would be impossible for anyone to read this book as a story. It is a series of memories. The backdrop to our journey is set in the present where Elaine, our navigator, is being 'honoured' with a retrospective of her artwork in a small gallery Toronto, the city of her upbringing. By way of a parallel to this Attwood gives us glimpses of Elaine's life in retrospective showing how each of the pivitol moments in her life have shaped her ability to interact with her environment and with those around herm, both men and women. To emphasise this point Attwood has dispensed with the uniform chapter titles and numbers. Instead there are numerous sporadic switches between the past and present, each of which is segmented under what could be the titles of paintings/artwork, the pictures of which we are encouraged to form in our own minds as we experience the world through Elaine's senses. In particular Elaine centres on the influence of Cordelia her childhood 'friend' around whom her early attempts at stability were centred. Before coming to Toronto, the world Elaine knew was that of a wanderer, travelling from place to place with her Professor father, a scientist. The permanent life in Toronto introduces her to the lives and relationships of other girls her age and so she cements herself, nervously at first, into a group of girls. Then she is changed forever by the arrival of another girl, Cordelia who haunts her throughout the book. Although by defenition, Cordelia is not a physical bully, she exerts an influence on Elaine which will hold her forever. It is this relationship with Cordelia which has left her emotionally stunted until now as she grapples to lay her emotional ghosts to rest. The subtlety of Attwood's expression is evident from the beginning. In particular the representation of Elaine as an artist and Attwood's manipulation of Elaine's view of the world are manifest in the quality description of Elaine's world. We are smothered by the colours, textures and feelings which surround Elaine, both in the physical world and in her own mind. But Attwood manages never to overstress the technique. Above all this book is about subtlety, what goes on behind the physical in Elaine's one true and constant world, her own mind. This book is not exciting, never a whirlwind of action. But it is an enthrawling journey on which the reader is compelled to follow. It will bring back memories you never thought you had and remind you that it does not matter how we may change in our adult lives, it is our past which pursues us and which we ultimately must learn to control else it will ultimately consume us. A thoroughly enjoyable work.
As a writer myself (largely unpublished I'm afraid), I read Margaret Atwood and regularly find myself thinking 'I wish I'd written that'. Her prose is always beautifully written and compelling, and she has a habit of finding the perfect phrase to describe an event or emotion. This expertise is displayed strongly in 'Cat's Eye'. The mind games played between the teenage Elaine and Cordelia, and the lasting effect they have on Elaine's adult life, are told in a way that makes us believe Atwood has been there. Only the most expert male author - or pyschologist! - could understand the adolescent girl in this way; this really is the woman's inside view. A reservation many have about Atwood is that her novels on occasion become a showcase for her excellent prose, ahead of a real plot. This is the one thing that let's 'Cat's Eye' down. By the end you know all about Elaine, but you were someone to ask you 'so what happens in this book?', you might well struggle to answer. This is far more noticeable in some of Atwood's other work, and 'Cat's Eye' is still very compelling. But for her best work, I recommend 'The Handmaid's Tale' and 'The Blind Assassin', which both combine her superb writing and plots that will have you turning pages frantically until the very last.