Elaine Risley, a painter, returns to Toronto to find herself overwhelmed by her past. Memories of childhood - unbearable betrayals and cruelties - surface relentlessly, forcing her to confront the spectre of Cordelia, once her best friend and tormentor, who has haunted her for 40 years.
An exceptional novel from the winner of the 2000 Booker Prize.
©1988 O. W. Toad Ltd (P)2014 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd.
”Not since Graham Greene has a novelist captured so forcefully the relationship between school bully and victim... Atwood's games are played, exquisitely, by little girls” (Listener)
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While the reading was perfect, the editing was sloppy. Sentences were frequently repeated as though the reader did a second take but the first attempt was accidentally left in, instead of being discarded. The pauses between chapters were sometimes so short that the final word was almost clipped, and sometimes the pauses were much longer. Both these faults happened often enough to 'break the spell' of the audiobook.
It may be that this book is better read than listened to. Certainly it has the acuteness of perception and comment you expect from Margaret Atwood and a density of interesting observation and explorations that pass too quickly when only heard. It is an exploration of memory and how we create our past, of bullies and victims, of time. The fifty year old, successful Elaine looks back to a childhood idyllic until her parents settle in 1940s Toronto and she is confronted by social norms and constraints she has not had to deal with before. The book is almost entirely about her childhood and an extended period of bullying lead by her 'best friend', followed by teenage years when, if roles are not exactly reversed, Elaine at least has the upper hand. We learn little about Elaine's life as an adult, as a painter; that all seems further away than her vivid rehabiting of childhood.
As has been mentioned, the editing is appalling, the worst of any audio book I've listened to, with the breaks between chapters either long, or more usually, non-existent and many sentences repeated as if a mistake has been made and not edited out.
I found the style of the reading uneven. Sometimes it was brilliant, energetic and with great inflection. Mostly, however, the voice of the reader and the tone she adopts for the book injects a kind of Plaintive melancholy to the story that I don't think is an essential part of the book and becomes tedious.
As you'd expect from Margaret Atwood, this is a very interesting book and I would recommend it highly as a read. I'm not sure that I'd recommend this reader, though, she didn't suit me.
"sensitive story well performed but poorly edited"
i loved this storyline. it was introspective and seemed important to me. the performance was lively, well paced and well suited. however there was some repetition not edited out.
"Young experiences reverberate"
Reminding me why groups of quite ordinary women can subtly scare me - although I am one myself. Beautifully written with complexity, colour and shape, as always from Attwood. Centred around the life of a character I could believe in and identify with. This even though based in a country unknown to me, Canada, which in itself provides a black and white blackground with drab lives against which colours suddenly blaze. Pity about some bad editing here and there when repeated sentences break the spell.
"Great book, and great as an audiobook"
Thoroughly recommend this book. The only negative is that quite a few lines are repeated, which breaks up the flow of the story.
"such a great listen"
I am an admirer of Margaret Attwood's writing and have listened to every audiobook I can get hold of. Even with my high expectations, I enjoyed Cat's Eye so much - very rich and rewarding. The past inhabits the present of a woman who is good at observing others and getting to grips with understanding her own younger self. It can be appreciated simply as a beautifully observed reminiscence, but also gives us some insights into moves towards greater equality for women during the latter part of the 20th century and maybe even into Attwood herself.
As another reviewer notes, the editing is occasionally sloppy (I am guessing this was converted from a CD version) but this should not detract or distract from an excellent narration and beautiful story.
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