In order to review this honestly, I didn't read any other review of it. That can be scary. For what if I missed the main, obvious premise of the book and I look like an idiot? I'm trying to be brave here and hopefully give a one-of-the-normal-folk type of reviews as opposed to a literary one.
How do I describe this book? Hmmmm...let's see...I guess there are two ways.
- If it didn't satisfy two reading challenges: My Year of Reading Dangerously and Orbis Terrarum, I wouldn't have finished it. It took until page 126 for me to even care about the main character and finally by page 328 (of 446 total) I found that I was intrigued and wanted to know how it would end.
- Difficult to finish, but once it is over, you want to have a discussion with others who have read it so you can figure out the many things that you don't quite get. Great, great book for a book club to discuss.
The ringleader of these "friends" and subtle-tactic bully, Cordelia, oddly enough ends up being Elaine's best friend later on. It is her relationship with Cordelia, specifically, and her childhood home, Toronto, in general, that torments Elaine onward through adulthood.
I really enjoyed Atwood's style of writing. The hopscotch forward/backward in time method that she used was a perfect medium for telling this story since Elaine's present is so entwined with her past. A bit confusing at times, but a brilliant move.
Atwood has an amazing way of describing things without being verbose. Reading a lot of classics, I'm always skimming and skipping whole paragraphs of descriptions. Not so with this book. The things she describes are not only important to the story, but are done in such a way as to keep my interest. One of my favorite lines from this book is conveyed in just this sparse way.
"This landscape is empty now, a place for Sunday runners. Or not empty: filled with whatever it is by itself, when I'm not looking."
I find myself wanting to dissect this novel with someone else. I want to bounce ideas of what I think the different symbols mean off of another. In that sense, I feel that this book was extraordinary. It evokes discussion and I think that is one of the necessary components of a good book.
Just be aware: this book is gray. By that I mean that when I think of how I feel when I read it, I could only envision the characters in black and white. Different items were in color but the people are all gray. My feelings were gray. I felt that Elaine was walking around dusted in gray.
For what it's worth...the above is what I came out of Cat's Eye with. It was difficult to get through, but in the end I'm glad I did. Not sure if I would attempt it again, though. Sort of like finishing a marathon.
PS - Yes, you do understand the cover picture by the end of the book.
PPS - Anyone who has read this before: When Elaine is arguing with her then-husband Jon, he says,"Trisha, Monica is just a friend." Is this a typo or was she going by Trisha before this? See, my name is Tricia and I'm pretty sure I would have seen another one previous. Please relieve my anxious confusion...EDIT: I feel pretty silly now. After talking it over with my husband, I realized that Jon was answering her question. She asked if he was going to see Monica. His response was misinterpreted by me. I thought he was calling Elaine Trisha like some sort of nickname and then letting her know she was being paranoid because Monica was just a friend. But in actuality he is answering her question that he is going to see Trisha and that she got the "other woman" wrong because Monica is just a friend. Funny how you can read the printed word in different ways isn't it?