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Cat's Eye

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  34,745 ratings  ·  1,802 reviews
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 id ...more
ebook, 480 pages
Published June 8th 2011 by Anchor (first published 1988)
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i know for a fact that books were written and published after this one, but i can't for the life of me understand why.
I look at the progression of 5-star ratings by friends - mostly women - and wonder if it is a womanly weakness to rate a book 5 stars which deconstructs the world from the female perspective? Is this visceral urge something to be ashamed of, something you must suppress to show due deference to 'standards' of literary appraisal?

But then why don't I feel conflicted enough while handing out my 5 stars to those modern masterpieces written mostly by dead, white men? All those narrative voices that b
Paquita Maria Sanchez

It's a little tough-going to talk about this book, because the description makes it sound so Ya-Ya Sisterhood chick-lit. Girl/girl friendships, coming of age, an assembly-line presentation of messy sexual relationships, dadurdydurr. It's sad that a simple outline of the plot could potentially close off 50% (or more) of the population's interest in reading this book, because unlike her speculative fiction, this is less a plot-driven novel reveling in world-building, and more of a parade of
What it's about

"We are survivors of each other. We have been shark to one another, but also lifeboat. That counts for something."

The power of abusive friendships and relationships is the theme of this book, though not all the relationships are tainted, so it's not depressing and at times it's quite amusing (e.g. discerning the mysteries of puberty).

There is also a fair bit about art and artists, with a dash of early feminism.

Plot structure

Elaine is an artist in her late fifties/early sixties
"Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise."

Simply put, I worship this book.

Cat’s Eye follows the controversial painter Elaine as she reflects upon her childhood and younger years when she returns to Toronto (the city of her youth) for a retrospective of her works. Her reflections stir up memories of friendship, longing, betrayal, love, hate, and pain. Especially haunting are her memories of Cordelia, a childhood friend with whom she had a co
Nov 28, 2011 Mariel rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: barbarism begins at home
Recommended to Mariel by: doll house
Cordelia: Hey! You think I'm never lonely because I'm so cute and popular? I can be surrounded by people and be completely alone. It's not like any of them really know me. I don't even know if they like me half the time. People just want to be in a popular zone. Sometimes when I talk, everyone's so busy agreeing with me, they don't hear a word I say.
Buffy: Well, if you feel so alone, then why do you work so hard at being popular?
Cordelia: Well, it beats being alone all by yourself.
(from Buffy th
Debbie "DJ" Wilson
Nearly impossible to write a review for such a masterful work as this. All I can do is write some of my thoughts while reading this. It's like a psychological character study. It's the feelings that are evoked. Everything is full of descriptions, the meaning belongs to the reader. Atwood brings me to the brink, then pulls back leaving me with a sense of uneasiness. Our lives can only be interpreted by us. Which of my own memories have been blocked, or purposely left unremembered only to surface ...more
There is still a wide-eyed teenager living inside me, and this book makes my melty twee little heart break and sing in equal measure. When I was 16 and read it for the first time, that was as close to a transcendental experience as I've ever had. Since then, I have re-read it roughly twenty thousand times, always whenever I need to just submerge myself in drenching beauty and angst.
Karly *The Vampire Ninja*

DBR, you say?? OKAY!!!

With full disclosure I have to admit this is not actually my first DBR, it comes in after both Ryker's Burden Kansas and Cohen's Beautiful Losers. Something about books I love apparently makes booziness happen, hmmmmmm....

There are times that I am loath to tell people where I'm from, not because I don't like it, I do!! Canada is a truly lovely place to live and I have been blessed with a life of much happiness here, it's because when I say I'm from Canada I always get that
The cruelty of young girls. Short segments (a page or three long each) plaited together. Ranges from what's happening now to what happened then, back and forth. Memory is faulty but the cuts carry on.
Knowing too much about other people puts you in their power, they have a claim on you, you are forced to understand their reasons for doing things and then you are weakened.

I disagree. But I see how it can become someone's truth.
This book has been on my must-read list for a long time, so I was very excited to finally get my hands on a copy. Unfortunately, as much as I tried, I did not love this book. The language was absolutely stunning, with scenes rendered with such poetic language and detail that I felt I was in the scene. The problem was that the scenes Atwood described were so miserable, I did not want to be there. I have never been to Toronto, and after reading this book, I never want to go. I can't imagine a more ...more
So what do you do when you're a girl and you have this peculiar friend, who is also your worst abuser, but for some reason you hang out with her, go to the same school and all that jazz? Why, you become a controversial painter, get involved with some creepy men, and then sort of go on from there. Good thing your brother is a semi-genius fascinated with spacetime and all its promises, and your dad is this entomologist who travels all over the country with his family. We don't want things to be to ...more
Upon rereading in 2011: I have little to add, except to say that it was even more astonishing on the second-go-round.


I have no words (well, in a manner of speaking) to describe my love for this book. I finished it really, really late the other night after a night out with some friends and was completely overwhelmed. It's taken me a few days to review it, just because of how emotionally devastating the book is.

Cat's Eye (from the almost-always-fabulous Atwood) is less a narrative than a glimps
Listen, I hate to be the guy who ruins the joke, but it's impossible to seriously judge Canadian literature without acknowledging that Canada is not a real place. It's a funny little conceit, but it's stretching plausibility a bit far to pretend that there's some enormous country right on top of the United States where gay marriage is legal and we totally never invade it at all.

It's not a country, okay? It's just some dude in Minnesota with a big back yard.

Glad we got that out of the way.

This one did not live up to my Atwood expectations after Blind Assassin and Handmaid's Tale. The narrator spent way too much time lamenting her aging self and by page 445 I had no sympathy for her. The flashbacks to her childhood and adolescence were enthralling and at times visceral. Her younger self was well explicated and felt very real to me; the older Elaine felt flat. Every comment she made was about how old she was, how everything had changed, how she used to do this or act that way. I GE ...more
Oh, the little games girls play on each other. They scheme, they gossip and they either ostracise or bully those whom they feel don't belong to their little circle, inflicting untold damage with their whisperings and indirectness. That, in a nutshell, is the subject of Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye, as memorable an account of childhood angst and cruelty as any I've read.

Cat's Eye is the story of Elaine Risley, a middle-aged artist who returns to the city where she grew up, Toronto, for a retrospec
Having read The Handmaid's Tale, and loving it, and reading The Robber Bride, and not loving it (at all), I was unsure how I would feel about my third Margaret Atwood tale.

While not being able to immerse myself into the story as quickly or as deeply as The Handmaid's Tale, I found the book to instead be a slow burn, gradually drawing me in and not letting go until the end.

In Cat's Eye, Atwood's protagonist reflects on the development of relationships between women (girls) in all their complexi
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Margaret Atwood has written a lot of books, and for me they fall into one of two camps: either I've read it, or I know nothing about it. Cat's Eye was one novel I only learnt about a few years ago. First I came across a quoted passage from it in another book - I want to say it was Queen Bees & Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman, but I can't find it to be sure (my other option is Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose, but she doesn't cite it in her list of recommended reading so now I'm not sur ...more
I’d read Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake, so I thought I had her pegged as to what kind of novelist she is. But this book has no excursions into the future and mores. It’s an in depth exploration of our experiences as children and how they shape our lives.

The story is mostly told in flashbacks. A woman comes to Toronto for a retrospective showing of her art. She hasn’t been there in many years, and now finding herself there she is awash in memories, especially those involving another
I know people who have very specific conditions for books they read -- one who doesn't like any book that portrays adultery in a positive light, another who hates anything in first person. I like to think I don't have any of these, but that's kind of a lie: I hate passive characters.

Elaine's the most passive character in any book I can remember reading this year, and she's the protagonist and narrator to boot. She just sat around and waited for the book to happen to her, and meanwhile I'm readin
The writing in this book reminds me quite a lot of Atwood's writing style in The Handmaid's Tale: it feels contemplative, half-dreamy, slower than life. It also reminds me a bit of The Bell Jar, somehow.

The way this book was structured was the most interesting thing for me: the past blending with the present, the present fading back into the past. Another interesting thing was the handle Atwood has on people -- specifically, little girls. I knew a Cordelia, a Grace, a Carol. An Elaine.

It's not
Jan 26, 2012 Jo rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jo by: karen
Shelves: library, 2012
On one hand, Ms Atwood deserves 5 stars.

On the other, I'd say my actual enjoyment of this book was more of a 3.

This could be because this book is a book that should be devoured in one go and not, as I did, picked at.

Or because I'm a literary heathen.

I am always so surprised by how cruel girls can be to each other. I am afraid that I am more like Elaine's parents- not exactly part of the mainstream of life. The weaving of the story from past to present, the interplay of the characters, growth of Elaine and shifts of power and focus were all well done to my mind. I often find that the actual story Margaret Atwood writes about is not as compelling as her details and work with the characters. There is an everyday-ness about them and a seeming n ...more
Ben Babcock
As we dove into summer I read my first Atwood novel, The Handmaid’s Tale , thereby establishing some ground rules for our relationship. We decided to agree to disagree when it comes to style so that I could continue appreciating her strong motifs and themes. Now as we dip our toes into autumn, I am now one more book into Atwood’s oeuvre, and this truce appears to be holding. If anything, Cat’s Eye is preferable according to my own tastes in style—and I really enjoyed the story too. This is a boo ...more
“There are things I need to ask her. Not what happened, back then in the time I lost, because now I know that. I need to ask her why.

If she remembers. Perhaps she’s forgotten the bad things, what she said to me, what she did. Or she does remember them, but in a minor way, as if remembering a game, or a single prank, a single trivial secret, of the kind girls tell and then forget.

She will have her own version. I am not the centre of her story, because she herself is that. But I could give her so
Sadly, this is not my favourite Atwood novel. The first half was better for me, as I could emphasise more with Elaine as a child than I could as an adult. Children can be cruel. The structure was interesting, as it shifts seamlessly between the past and present. The prose, strangely, as both books are quite different, reminded me more of The Handmaid's Tale than of any of Atwood's other work that I've read. It's quiet and slow, thoughtful and well... dreary. There are some good observations conc ...more
Apparently, it’s extremely difficult to grow up female, and members of the fairer sex can be cruel and unusual in their treatment of each other both in childhood and beyond. How much of a fool am I that I didn’t discover this earlier?

I had difficulty getting into this book, and fought the urge to put it down and never resume reading until around page 300. Following the life of our fictitious narrator, I had difficulty finding something to which I could relate until she hit college age and became
I was thrilled when I first found Margaret Atwood's books about two years ago, and as I've been slowly working my way through them I've started to become disillusioned that they all seem to be similar to each other. The last one I read before this was the Robber Bride, and both books have a kind of annoying habit of having the main (female) characters think obsessively about other peripheral females who have wronged them or hurt them in some way. I got tired of hearing about Zenia in Robber Brid ...more
Cuốn sách kể về cuộc đời của Elaine với phần lớn là những tháng ngày tuổi trẻ tronng quá trình trưởng thành của cô cùng người bạn của mình - Cordelia. Cứ tưởng đây sẽ là một câu chuyện tuổi teen bình thường hoặc sẽ là một câu chuyện giật gân về 2 cô gái, thế nhưng Atwood lại thông thái, sắc sảo hơn thể. Bà kể lại mọi chuyện với sự chậm rãi, tự nhiên và chân thật. Và dĩ nhiên, bà không quên đưa thông điệp nữ quyền vào tác phẩm của mình vào cuốn sách - điều đã trở nên nổi tiếng trong mọi tiểu thuy ...more
No one ever explicitly recommended Margaret Atwood to me. But I had heard her name mentioned in the periphery of my literary world now and again. When I picked up The Handmaid's Tale this summer, I couldn't believe I had never read it before. I thought it was brilliant. So I was anxious to find time this fall to read Cat's Eye. And again I am amazed that my life has not revolved around this author from day one. I'm rendered speechless by how brilliantly Atwood can tell a story. There were paragr ...more
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Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.

Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry, childr
More about Margaret Atwood...
The Handmaid's Tale Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam, #1) The Blind Assassin The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam, #2) Alias Grace

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“Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.” 1987 likes
“Love blurs your vision; but after it recedes, you can see more clearly than ever. It's like the tide going out, revealing whatever's been thrown away and sunk: broken bottles, old gloves, rusting pop cans, nibbled fishbodies, bones. This is the kind of thing you see if you sit in the darkness with open eyes, not knowing the future.” 1893 likes
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