The Edible Woman
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The Edible Woman

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3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  15,808 ratings  ·  766 reviews
Ever since her engagement, the strangest thing has been happening to Marian McAlpin: she can't eat. First meat. Then eggs, vegetables, cake, pumpkin seeds--everything! Worse yet, she has the crazy feeling that she's being eaten. Marian ought to feel consumed with passion, but she really just feels...consumed. A brilliant and powerful work rich in irony and metaphor, The Ed...more
Paperback, 310 pages
Published June 1998 by Anchor (first published 1969)
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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Color Purple by Alice WalkerJane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëThe Bell Jar by Sylvia PlathThe Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Best Feminist Fiction
43rd out of 743 books — 1,645 voters
Pride and Prejudice by Jane AustenTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeJane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëThe Diary of a Young Girl by Anne FrankThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Jezebel's Books All Women Should Read
85th out of 522 books — 1,028 voters


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Community Reviews

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Meaghan
Written just before the founding of NOW, The Edible Woman is as relevant today as it was in 1965. The novel’s protagonist, Marian, has recently graduated from college and is working for a public opinion company. She is dating a man, Peter, who everyone thinks is perfect. Once engaged Marian begins to have trouble eating. As she is consumed by her relationship, she stops being able to consume food.
In the first sex scene in The Edible Woman, which is rich in messages and metaphors, Peter decides...more
oriana
before Ohhh this book is like my favorite hoodie—threadbare and falling apart but so so soft and comfy, with all those little stains and patches as sweet reminders of long ago. Love love love love this book...


after Well yes, I do love this book as much as ever, but I was actually kind of surprised at how different it was from the last time I read it, oh, five or six years ago. Here are some reflections (in list form, because I'm feeling lazy):

1. I am still terribly and utterly in love with Dunca...more
Rowena
What an unusual story. Marian is newly engaged and then discovers she can't eat certain foods, first meats and then almost everything else. What is her subconscious trying to her?

Atwood is a writer who amazes me every time I read her; it really is hard to categorize her writing. Her writing style on the other hand is exquisite, intelligent and witty at times.

The main theme of this book is relationships and how they can transform you. I enjoyed the first half of the book a lot more than I did th...more
Stela
Well, I liked this novella more than The Handmaid Tale, and that was quite a book!
The story is about Marian, an ordinary young woman who works for the advertising section of an enterprise, and leads an equally ordinary life, until two things, apparently disconnected, happen: her boyfriend, Peter, asks her to marry him and she discovers she is no longer able to eat - first meat, than even vegetables.
The book was interpreted as a metaphor of consumerism which governs our society, but it's more t...more
Diana
This is Atwood's first book, published in 1969. It's full of feminist ideas but it's so dated it was hard to get my head around it. A woman who is so normal that everyone thinks she's the most normal person they know, is about to get married. She feels that she's losing her identity and finds that she can't eat certain types of food. Meanwhile her roommate tricks a guy into getting her pregnant because she wants a baby but not a husband. I notice there are several study guides to this book, but...more
Mrs. Miska
Some books are easily and quickly devoured, as by a greedy child, and enjoyed all the more for the speed of consumption. Others, however, may be eaten with similar speed, but only to arrive more hastily at the end of the meal. The Edible Woman was one of the latter for me. I started on it during our trip up north over the holiday weekend, and gulped down the last half of it in the car Sunday. By the end, I just wanted to see how it finished to end the tediousness. It was like gnawing on a tough...more
Katherine
I discovered Margaret Atwood in high school when I first read The Handmaid's Tale, but I didn't read any of her other books until college, when I realised she's actually an amazing feminist writer with an incredibly versatile imagination. The Edible Woman was her first novel -- I think it was written in the late 60s or early 70s -- and was the first book of hers that I really fell in love with.

Marian graduated from college and drifted into a job, a boyfriend, and a holding pattern, then got eng...more
Danine
The story in The Edible Woman takes place in the 1960s. With that in mind, I attempted to ease my modern depictions, expectations, and conclusion about the 1960s. I found the book to be a slow read and, like many others, I enjoyed the metaphors that were heavily sprinkled throughout the story that paralleled the lives of Marian and Ainsley.

I comprehend the feminist aspect of the story. For me, though, this book was more about the human aspects of life that collided with the lives of these women...more
Elena Tomorowitz
I don't think I could have read "The Edible Woman" at a better time than now, when topics of feminism are becoming more and more present. I originally picked up this book because of its title and because I wanted to check out some Atwood--admittedly, this is my first time reading her. The title alone has so many implications--that women are consumable, visceral, sinewy, sexual, and all of the above. The main character is so honest and real that I often forgot throughout the book that she was bei...more
Peachy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Varsha
3.5

“WEIRD” would be the right word to describe this book, I guess!In fact, I neither could hate this book nor I could love it because of its unusual storyline and characters. It’s strange, though Marian McAlpin the protagonist seems eccentric and some of her acts/thoughts were quite insane and out-of-the-way yet she was also relatable at time!!
Basically, the story revolves around a woman who is insecure, has lack of clarity and is unable to analyze the importance of freedom in her life. And Mar...more
Lucille
Marian works at a surveying company. She refines consumer questionnaires to improve products and their marketing. Her job isn't exactly fulfilling, but as she and her roommate Ainsley say, what else can you do with an arts degree? Marian is in a relationship with Peter, a man clinging on to his unmarried status with a desperate fervor as his close friends all tie the knot. Peter is a handsome, well dressed lawyer on his way to success.
Ainsley is an interesting character. From her studies of ant...more
Elaine
Oh dear, I couldn't decide whether I liked this book from one page to the next. I expected to like it but kept deciding I didn't and a page or two later decided that maybe it was ok after all. Several things put me off it but mainly the characters. Ugh!, the characters were dull grey people with nothing likable about them. They seemed to be superficial, one dimensional people, who's only concern was how they looked to others. Even with those who were meant to be their best friends they weren't r...more
Pierce
Such a first novel.

On some counts I really enjoyed this, and on others I really didn't. The writing was not amazing, and contained a mix of standard fare and awkward flourishes. And after reading a bunch of Atwood's later stuff recently, this seemed quite immature, quality-of-writing-wise. Like listening to Pablo Honey after Kid A.

But I can't blame Atwood for improving.

It seemed impossibly modern to be 196something. I think Atwood was striving her character to live in a clean, modern world, and...more
Siria
This probably isn't the attitude that I was supposed to have, but I found this incredibly, surreally funny. It's amazingly confident for a first novel, and that really helped to up my enjoyment level of the book, even though it's not the most accomplished of her novels. The metaphors which Atwood uses are very, very layered and dense, and don't always work exactly - it's starts to waver and fall apart towards the end of the novel - but for the most part, they're very satisfying to pick your way...more
missy lambert
I can't believe Atwood wrote this when she was only 23 years old. Not only is this a good book craft-wise (taut scenes, crisp language, good narrative choices, a nice balance of humor/absurdity and pathos), but the levels of themes and theories that are operating throughout the narrative are astonishing. My attention was caught by the book's examination of the sexual politics of meat-eating, food, and consumption.

Something funny (?) that I realized as I read was that I have a hard time identify...more
Phrynne
I believe this is Margaret Atwood's first published book and it could not be more different from The Handmaid's Tale or the MaddAddam trilogy yet it is still just as beautifully written. This story is laugh out loud funny in parts revolving around a main character who is decidedly unusual but still extremely likable. Her relationship with Duncan is romantic in a peculiar way and I like to think they worked it all out after the book ended and stayed together! This may not be Atwood's best book bu...more
Julie
Fun read. Poor Marian, although, I did get to a point where I just wished she'd go to a bit of therapy. Probably because of how close to home her behavior and situation were. Too much exposition. The cake really was terrifying in the most perfect way, as was Duncan and all the non-friends. Clara and Joe were my favorite, followed closely by Leonard receding into the recesses of their house, playing with Arthur's toys, and fighting over them with him. It was a treat to see so many stereotypes I'v...more
Amanda
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Sarah Kathleen
I read this book for two reasons: Cassie reads it to Chris on Skins while he's in a coma, and because every time I've visited my mother or she's visited me in the last three years, she's asked if I've read it yet. I'm a picky eater, and according to my mom, every month I add two or three things to the list of things I don't eat. I'm not really that bad, but I read the book anyway. It's a very dated book, but I think the idea of a woman being consumed by outside forces is as true today as it was...more
Persephone Abbott
As I read this book, I could see the 70's Hollywood rendition scroll out before me frame by frame, the decors, the dresses, the cars, the street scenes, Jane Fonda, Goldie Hawn, Peter Sellars as Leonard for instance. I'd seen enough of these films about "feminism on the pill" when I watched television on Saturday mornings as a teenager growing up in Berkeley in the 1980's. I always thought the women depicted in the films were strapped to the New Ideal Home in this case the 1970's version: the da...more
Jo
This is the only one of Atwood's novels I really like, although I've read quite a few others. It's funny, has no discernible pretensions, and yet is (IMO) quite profound. It has the humanity I look for in a book which only seems to happen when an author is writing from their own emotional experience.

I also feel a connection with the main character and what she is going through, which perhaps has more to do with why I like this one more than the others, rather than it being 'better' than the lat...more
Leo
Overall this book is compelling. Atwood is able to suitably translate her attitude towards the role cast by society onto women, into a digestible and nourishing story. The main character named Marian, inclines the reader to sympathize with her inner turmoil. Even if at times I balked at some questionably childish antics of Marian, I still connected with her psyche.
Make no mistake, this story deals with the psyche. The level of surreality present in Atwood's narrative technique, leads me to beli...more
Valerie Valentine
At first I could not get into it! It seemed so second-wave, Betty Friedanesque - dated, antiquated, then I paused. Atwood is still living, she's alive. I ran to her twitter feed. Issues of women a theme for her, a must... the quest to tell this story is not for nothing I am finding. the theme and setting seemed out of date - women immediately quit jobs automatically when they married, assumed she'd become a dependent on her husband. This character was quite dull and proper, living in a stifling...more
Jim
I was having dinner a few days ago with a young French artist who is in my town as an artist-in-residence. When not traveling around Europe creating art installations, she lives in Berlin. At some point in the conversation the topic of feminism came up and she said she really wasn't sure what feminism is all about. I was somewhat taken aback, having grown up during the heyday of the Women's Movement of the 60's and 70's. As I thought about it more, I wondered if it's okay that feminism might not...more
Kate
Firstly, I would like to commend Atwood on her linguistic artistry throughout the novel. She is an excellent wordsmith. Her total mastery of the language enables us, the readers, to form elaborate images of the novel’s scenes in our minds, as she paints her pictures so vividly. For example, Marian has just stepped into the bath tub: “She occupied herself with the soap. The water was lulling, relaxing. She had lots of time; she could indulge her desire to lie back with her enamelled hair placed f...more
Aia
The Edible Woman – მარგარეტ ეთვუდის პირველი რომანი, რომელიც 24 წლის ასაკში დაწერა.
ვიცოდი, რომ რომანი საინტერესო თემებზე იყო (ქორწინება, მომხმარებლობა, კვებითი დარღვევა), მაგრამ პერსონაჟებიც არანაკლებ საინტერესონი აღმოჩნდნენ და მგონი, სწორედ მათ გამო ვკითხულობდი "თავაუღებლად". უმეტესობა მათგანი მეტ-ნაკლებად მივამსგავსე ქართველ ნაცნობებს და მეგობრებს. ესენი არიან ადამიანები მოსაწყენი სამსახურებით და მოსაწყენი პირადი ცხოვრებით.

მერიენი სამომხმარებლო ბაზრის კვლევის კომპანიაში მუშაობს და ჰყავს მოსაწყე...more
HeavyReader
Nov 14, 2009 HeavyReader rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to HeavyReader by: Laura Whitley
Shelves: feminist, fiction
I read this book while staying at the Unicorn House.

I didn't have anything to read, so Laura said I could borrow any of her books. This was the third (and last) book I borrowed from her shelves.

I've read a couple of other books by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale and Cat's Eye. Her books tend to depress me, not her writing so much as the the topics she writes about. The oppression of women does not make for light reading. Important reading, yes. Happy reading, no.

This book was a real downer,...more
Anna Steinbrecher
My 5th Atwood(after Oryx and Crake, the Handmaid's Tale, the Blind Assassin and the Penelopiad, in that order). This was her first novel in 1969, which I suppose I should regard in its own light as a "first novel". Looking at her later career may tend to overshadow my evaluation.
What struck me the most was her style choice to switch from first to third-person narrative, and then back again. We are taken outside of Marian's body just as she feels outside herself. Although the reader is still offe...more
Becky
I don't feel like I'm qualified to write a review of this book. However, I do want to mention that I particularly enjoyed the author's inclusion of the main character when switching back to the first person in part iii. Atwood wrote (I'm paraphrasing) that Marian was able to think of herself in the first person again.

Yay! The first book I finished in 2014 was a bona-fide piece of literature. For grown-ups. And feminist literature from the 1960s, no less. I must remember to include more books li...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
More about Margaret Atwood...
The Handmaid's Tale Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy, #1) The Blind Assassin The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam Trilogy, #2) Alias Grace

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“I always thought eating was a ridiculous activity anyway. I'd get out of it myself if I could, though you've got to do it to stay alive, they tell me.” 15 likes
“This afternoon held that special quality of mournful emptiness I've connected with late Sunday afternoons ever since childhood: the feeling of having nothing to do.” 14 likes
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