©1969, 1980 Margaret Atwood; (P)2007 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
"Funny, sharp, witty, clever." (The Times)
"Written with a brilliant angry energy." (Observer)
trying to see the world with my ears
I read this novel in the early 70's and didn't really expect it to stand the test if time - but I couldn't put this audiobook down! While it's not Atwood's best, I found it more witty and relevant than ever, despite it's early 60's setting. Except for the staccato "she said's", the narration was quite good.
In the introduction to this book, Ms. Atwood says this is an early work of hers that was published years later -- after she had already published many of those for which she is famous. It shows. The plot is not compelling and you feel no affinity for the characters. I listened to it all the way through, hoping it would get better because everything else I have read of Ms. Atwood's I have enjoyed, but I grew to be actually annoyed by the characters. The conclusion resolves none of the tension the writer created and I was left disappointed by the journey. Aside from not liking the plot and characters, I felt the book contained way too much descriptor language that further burdened the flow. The writing didn't show much discipline and seemed to be mostly writing for writing's sake.
This may have been the first book I read of Atwood's - probably 13-14 years ago - a recommendation from a writing mentor, please forgive how pretentious that sounds. (Lady Oracle may have been my first).
Reading this book for the first time as a 22-23 year old, I was amazed by how much I was experiencing the same conundrums as our protagonist. She struggles with feminism and femininity, a woman's place in society and in the home. She is working a job that was just a j-o-b (and during the time this novel was written, it was almost just assumed that when the woman married, she would quit her job - especially when she is marrying someone as Marian is marrying)
While I wasn't getting married, I was watching all my friends take that step. Marian's emotions rang so true to my own emotions at the time, reading this was almost like having drinks with a close friend. Marian behaves so irrationally and emotionally, it makes her so endearing and human.
The narration is ok - I give her 3 stars because her tones and inflections could be slightly better, more in rhythm, but I've listened to the audiobook I think 3 times now, so I obviously don't hate her reading of it. (I've read the book at least twice).
It is not of Atwood's more recent sci-fi ilk, so if that is what you are looking for, move on.
Even though I'm no longer in the same place I was at 22, I still really enjoy this book. It will always be one of my favorites. Great for any young woman who thinks she wants to get married because that's what young women do at her age. I've given it as presents a number of times - not at bridal showers though, I think that might be a little too cruel and cynical.
I am a die-hard Atwood fan, and I've loved every single book/audiobook of hers UNTIL this one. Long, slow, annoyingly cynical and brow-beatingly propagandistic, I can only hope that the remaining books on my Atwood wishlist prove to be more inspiring.
Written before she became so immersed in science fiction, this is a great first novel by a pre-eminent author.
I love Margaret Atwood's later books, but this one seemed unsatisfying, not quite feminist yet not quite traditional, somewhere trembling in between a declaration of independence and complete confusion. I like the narrator - she didn't do a bad job, she was understandable but the performance did nothing to enhance my understanding of the book either. I felt the narration of the main character was a fairly aggressive reading, contrasted with other voices for less important characters that clashed with ideas I had of each of those characters as well. The only way I would recommend this audio would be for a passionate Margaret Atwood fan who most absolutely read everything available.
An unexpected pleasure, Atwood's wonderful writing, not yet fully developed, set in a time in which many female baby boomers came of age. I understand myself and my culture better after enjoying this marvelous book.
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