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par Margaret Atwood
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Before there was Mean GIrls, there was Cat's Eye. Trying to recapture her childhood, parents, and an era, the protagonist sets them free. Coming of age for postwar (Anglophile yet changing) girl inToronto ("I am happy as a clam: hard-shelled, firmly closed") during early stages of feminism and 'contemporary' art, showing we are products of our time in varying degrees but also exist independently of it. Cordelia/Elaine dynamic = interchangable effects between frenemies, it is not our friends who define us but our enemies. "I'm not afraid of seeing Cordelia. I'm afriad of being Cordelia. Because in some way we changed places, and I've forgotten when." Read this book to start the flow of one's own childhood memories: immediacy of tastes, sounds, smells, sights, sensations and feelings points to time-space continuum, both unnerving and comforting. "You don't look back along time but down through it, like water. Sometimes ths comes to the surface, sometimes that, sometimes nothing. Nothing goes away." Also the acquiesence/suprise of aging: "We thought we were running away from the grown-ups, and now we are the grown-ups: this is the crux of it." How can other people age and places change, while we think of ourselves as staying the same? ( )
I wasn't entirely sure what I thought of this book until I finished it. I needed a moment to properly think about it and formulate my thoughts which is rare for me.
This book is about Elaine, and the relationship not only with her old school torementor/friend, but her relationship with Toronto and why she felt she had to leave. The background for her visit to Toronto is that she is now a famous painter and an exhibit is being held in her honour. She returns to the city for a few days to attend opening night, and finds herself going through her past in vivid detail.
What I loved most of all were the stories from her childhood, which span from her earliest memories all the way to a few years before the exhibit occurs. They illustrate a life of a childhood during WWII, a life in a colonial Canada, a life with 'strange' parents. It a beautiful story of somebody's life told extraordinary well, as Atwood is bound to deliver. But it also delivers a wonderful perspective on childhood bullies and how some wounds stick to us, and a perspective on female friendships and how sometimes women just don't relate to other women and find it hard to be friends with them.
Not the best Atwood I've read by far, but a highly enjoyable read otherwise. As a person who was bullied through school, I felt a connection to it that I only realized I felt half way through. I'll be thinking about this story for a while, I'm sure.
Margaret Atwood is such a fantastic writer and Cat's Eye is her at her best. The story of an artist returning to her hometown, Cat's Eye is about childhood, the complications and horrors of female friendships and coming to terms with aging.
Her unflinching introspection and provocative prose are absolute perfection, though don't expect a helluva lot of plot. Confession: I prefer her literary works to her sci-fi any day.
What are the long-term ramifications of being bullied as a child? Margaret Atwood’s brilliant literary fiction addresses this question from the viewpoint of an adult reflecting back on her life. Elaine Risley, an accomplished painter, has returned to her childhood home in Toronto for a retrospective exhibition of her artwork. When she was eight years old, she and her family settled in Toronto after living a nomadic life with her entomologist father and non-conformist mother, forming friendships with other girls for the first time. Elaine meets a trio of girls who, prompted by ringleader Cordelia, bully her relentlessly, causing lingering self-esteem issues. The first half of the book captures the intense pain of abuse by peers. The second half shows how this pain carries over into her adult relationships. Themes include memory, time, identity, pressure to conform, and the long-lasting impact of bullying. References to science, particularly biology and physics, add a layer of depth and meaning to those inclined to ponder the possible connections.
Atwood is adept at detailed descriptions of time (1940’s – 1980’s) and place (Vancouver and Toronto). The characters are well-drawn, believable, and evolve over time. She uses vivid language in the same manner an artist might uses vivid colors to evoke an emotional reaction. She has created a powerful narrative that conveys the importance of self-knowledge, avoiding pressures to conform (and to be liked), and making authentic connections to others. Unfortunately, children, and even young adults, often lack this self-insight and the ability to distinguish true friendships from abusive relationships. This novel spoke to me on a personal level. Content warnings include abortion, infidelity, self-harm, and emotional and physical abuse. Recommended to fans of literary fiction or character-driven novels that shed light on the human psyche.
I gave up about halfway through. Atwood's writing is good, as always, but the storyline just didn't interest me at all. A middle-aged painter returns to her hometown where an art gallery is doing a retrospective of her work, and while she thinks about aging, she also remembers growing up. The book focuses on the girls who claimed to be her friends as a child, and how they bullied her. I know from my own experience how horrible pre-adolescent girls can be, and just didn't enjoy reading a book about it.
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Cat's Eye is the story of Elaine Risley, a controversial painter who returns to Toronto, the city of her youth, for a retrospective of her art. Engulfed by vivid images of the past, she reminisces about a trio of girls who initiated her into the fierce politics of childhood and its secret world of friendship, longing, and betrayal. Elaine must come to terms with her own identity as a daughter, a lover, an artist, and a woman--but above all she must seek release from her haunting memories. Disturbing, hilarious, and compassionate, Cat's Eye is a breathtaking novel of a woman grappling with the tangled knot of her life.
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Classification décimale de Melvil (CDD)813.54 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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