Monday, April 23, 2012

CAT'S EYE by Margaret Atwood

Elaine prefers to be called a painter rather than an artist and is in Toronto for a retrospective of her work.  This novel is a retrospective of her life, which was happy until her family moved there while she and her brother Stephen were children.  Her parents are a bit nebulous and beyond eccentric.  Her father is an entomologist who settles his family in Toronto when he takes a college teaching job.  After a nomadic life in motels and campgrounds prior to that point, Elaine is not equipped for girl stuff and pays a very high price for acceptance by her so-called friends, led by the enigmatic Cordelia.   (Mean Girls would be an appropriate title for this book.)  We know from the beginning that Elaine will make it to adulthood, but it's touch and go for a while, and I kept wondering what pivotal event was going to turn the tide for her.  There certainly is one, and although she struggles out of more than one destructive relationship, she never comes across as really triumphant or even very confident, despite her success.  This is due largely to unfinished business with Cordelia, and Atwood seems to make the point that sometimes resolution has to come from the peace we make with ourselves.

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