This was a great book. Really. A quick read, but has a genuinely deep theme, and is definitely enough to get you thinking about a lot of different things. Marian Caldwell is a successful thirty six year old television producer living in New York City. She lives a glam life; shopping at barneys, dating the executive of the studio, and in general following her dreams. But of course there’s something missing from her life. And when Kirby an eighteen year old girl turns up on her doors step, we find out there is much more to Marian than a successful career woman. We find out that she had had a daughter eighteen years before, and had given her up for adoption. She then is forced to come out of what she thought was a comfortable present and confront her past, when in turn makes her present seem shallow and superficial. She has to confront the fact that she never told Kirby’s father that she even existed. Something she had told herself over the years was the right thing to do. But Kirby the daughter she knows so little of teaches her more about herself than she was at first willing to even look at. A great story that takes a tough look at belonging, and where we all fit into our own little niches in the world. Griffin reminds us that even when its tough, its important to stay true to ourselves, because what’s the point in living a lie?
Each and every page of this novel, I could not stop marveling at the talent of Atwood’s writing. In the book Cat’s eye, she explores a woman’s life from different intervals, paying extra attention to that of her childhood. The time that we always go back to when we have questions about who we are and what we have become. Atwood is not subtle when it comes to the truth of our experiences. She goes into depths of child hood games, and the teasing, the cruelty of children, especially girls. Elaine the main character of the novel is in many ways scarred for life in the way that her best friend from elementry school treated her. In some ways that might sound extreme or melodramatic, but it was the foundation on how she saught and formed female relationships for the rest of her life. Cordelia was the friend who always said how she had to “improve” that anything she ever did wasn’t right. Elaine accepted this pain, in her want to be accepted, and in her want to have female friends. The two part ways for awhile, but then do reunite and become friends in high school. At this point Elaine; who had better grades and more luck getting dates had the power. Cordelia does not stay in her life in person, but Elaine’s idea of power especially around women was shaped by these experiences. Elaine becomes an artist in her adult life, and so as the reader you also get her retrospective in the purity of how she describes her own art, which is of course her life. With this narrative going on in her mind you get to see the vividness, the color, the insecurities, the ideas of what something is and represents, the things that most of us may think about, but never say out loud. Atwood also gives of intricate views of each time period and how they were seen from Elaine’s perspective at different times in her life. I loved this particular excerpt in Elaine’s description of how growing up in the forties molded her painting…
“the colors,” I say. “Alot of my colors are forties colors.” I’m softening up. At least she doesn’t say like and you know all the time. “The war, there are people who remember the war, and people who don’t. There’s a cut off point, there’s a difference.”
….”We have long attention spans,” I say “We eat everything on our plates. We save string. We make due.”
Another Excerpt from Cat’s eye(Awesome example of her vivid descriptive writing!)
“I think about Mrs. Smeath’s bad heart. What exactly is wrong with it? I picture it hidden, underneath her woolen afghan and the billow of her apron bib, pumping in the thick fleshy darkness of the inside of her body: something taboo, intimate. It would be red but with a reddish-black patch on it, like rot in an apple or a bruise. It hurts when I think about it….”(Atwood)