Bodily Harm
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Bodily Harm

3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  3,999 ratings  ·  243 reviews
A powerfully and brilliantly crafted novel, Bodily Harm is the story of Rennie Wilford, a young journalist whose life has begun to shatter around the edges. Rennie flies to the Caribbean to recuperate, and on the tiny island of St. Antoine she is confronted by a world where her rules for survival no longer apply. By turns comic, satiric, relentless, and terrifying, Margare...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1981)
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I spent several weeks in France during the summer of 2003. I arrived at the start of a massive European heat wave that would continue weeks after I left in August, killing nearly 15,000 in France alone.

One Friday afternoon in late July I trained from Gaillac to Carcassonne, in the heart of the Languedoc. I’d reserved an inexpensive hotel recommended by my Lonely Planet Guide.

The hotel was a disaster. Dim, dreary, sweltering, grimy. I had to pay cash for my night’s stay before seeing the room. D...more
Perhaps the most notable element in this book for me, though it may be strange to admit, is the use of different tenses. It's written mostly in the present tense and then switches to the past tense when the main character, Rennie, thinks back, and then to the past-perfect tense when there's a flashback within the 'past' sections. Perhaps I merely liked it because I felt justified over the times I've written that way and editors have told me it was confusing. Not that I consider myself a writer a...more
Margaret Atwood has been my most favorite writer since I was sixteen. There's maybe ten authors in second place, many of whom (especially Cortázar) regularly rear their heads in my imagination to try to supplant Atwood's place for first, but every time I go back to Margaret, I seriously fall in love again. More than anything, I love the way that her language shifts my actual thought patterns, or at least my constantly streaming internal monologue, until it sounds like she's the one inside my hea...more
HRM Maire
OK, this is definitely not the type of book I would normally pick up even at a library where it's free. So how did I come to read this book, you ask? Well, we'd been digging around our place and found a hidden cache of books in the basement--gasp! Books I hadn't looked at in years or even remembered I had. Don't even remember how I obtained some of them, and I assume I had this because I had read "The Handmaid's Tale" and thought I'd read something else by Atwood. I've been cranky about figuring...more
Anther stinker, I’m afraid. This book is about a Canadian freelance writer who goes to the Caribbean to do a ‘fluff’ travel piece after dealing with a partial mastectomy and a break up with her boyfriend. She gets mixed up with local politics and things go from bad to worse as the country slips into chaos after a coup. Although the premise sounds interesting, the book is dreadful – not a good read!
Danielle Franco-Malone
The first Margaret Atwood book I've ever read and really not liked. She has definitely grown as an author - her imagination, the scope of her stories, and her character development have grown exponentially in her more recent books. If you're new to Atwood, I'd pass on this one and go straight to the Handmaid's Tale, Oryx and Crake, the Year of the Flood, and the Penolopiad (in that Order)!
If I was still in the business of writing entertaining and/or clever but largely superficial reviews on this site, right now I would be cogitating over how best to write a parody-homage type review in the Atwoodian style best exemplified by Cat's Eye. The review would probably centre around my total inability to escape the black hole-like suction-y power of Cat's Eye, a book so deeply imprinted on my subconscious that it informs every word I write. I would probably make a clumsy parallel between...more
This is not my favorite Magaret Atwood book, but it is still somewhere between a 3.2 - 3.4 on my rating scale. In reflection, I feel that a large part of my disinterest in this book is that I could not relate to the main character in any way, shape, or form except for the fact that she's female.

Rennie, our 'heroine', is a post breast cancer patient, who dissociates from her own life entirely after coming close to losing it. She finds herself writing a travel article on a politically instable i...more
I mean, Atwood is Atwood, right? Then again, some of her early books are rough going, for various reasons. Edible Woman is too long; Lady Oracle, ditto; even Surfacing (which is, I think, the turning point in her novel career) feels a bit like a partly successful experiment.

Bodily Harm is likewise bizarre for her - sort of as if Atwood had written Didion's "A Book of Common Prayer" - weird cipher woman character trying to escape her history ventures into a fictionalized and v dangerous Caribbean...more
Bodily Harm is a thriller unlike any I have ever read. Atwood places her heroine on a small Caribbean island on the verge of revolution, but this reads nothing like a mainstream thriller. The action comparable to a traditional thriller doesn't take place until the last quarter of the book; until that point, Atwood builds a quietly menacing mood by showing us how heroine Rennie has become detached from her body through cancer, surgery, sexual aversion and lust. It isn't until the revolution occur...more
Courtney Stirrat
I am a *huge* fan of modern Atwood and feel a compulsive need to read all of her work. Bodily Harm may have changed my perspective. While in works such as The Handmaid's Tale, Oryx Crake, and The Blind Assassin Atwood seems unafraid to play and create literary techniques to heighten both plot and theme, in her earlier books, character studies comprise the bulk of her efforts. If written by anyone but a smattering of authors, I would have given Bodily Harm a single star; however, because writing...more
Atwoods writing style is really the only thing that made this book half decent. The plot line was dull and I never felt any kind of connection to any of the characters. I guess I was so uninterested that by the end of the book, I was only half paying attention prior to the climax so I ended up being confused, but not really caring to go back and short out the mess so I just went with the flow.
I was extremely disappointed when I think that this author wrote Handmaid's tale and while not as good,...more
Like most of Atwood's books, I finished this one confused. I felt like I understood what it was about until the last chapter. It is about the main character's emotional growth and it is about how people interact. It all felt very real to me.

As I reflect on the novel, I feel like I am slowly beginning to understand it. Aerin's review helped. It is about a detached and damaged woman slowly coming back to life and discovering what life is about. The first five chapters are definitely about that, b...more
I was pretty nervous while reading this book because it involves a machine gun and a Caribbean island--and really, only one thing can result when machine guns and the tropics come together. When the shit goes down, we all end up in this kinda dreamy delirious state and it's hard to tell what's real and what's only hope. Scary. I'm pretty sure neither the good guys nor the bad guys won in the end.
So oddly different than her other works, BODILY HARM seems like Atwood's homage to Hitchcock: naive, innocent Rennie swept up in the international intrigue of St. Agathe. I found it mesmerizing, and the way the cancer is woven into the multiple layers of what Atwood is creating is a master-class in character psychology.
i *hate* that i hate a book by atwood, but there's no denying it... i blew through this one as quickly as i could just to be done with it. i checked out some reviews of the peeps who gave it five stars just to see if they had picked up on something i had missed, but no. i still think it sucks. and that sucks.
Oscillating between realizations of frivolity and powerlessness, protagonist Rennie recalls her adult life through different lenses of herself as a modern romantic, independent professional, victim, and survivor. The ending is a nightmarish encounter shared by two women, each with her own vision of what liberty means and what she's willing to sacrifice for it. At times unnerving and others surreal, I couldn't let this one sit on my shelf and had to hand it over to a friend instead. Atwood loads...more
Frances Sawaya
On the scale of the zillion books I have read, this falls in the middle; it is also in middle ground among the Atwood books I have read. As per Atwood, there are plot strands that jump time and place constraints but are impeccably woven together. And, there is the usual gallery of women V. men and the usual search for self. Perhaps it is a tad dismissive to look at Bodily Harm this way but there was little in it to lift it beyond the norm.

Why a rating of average? Far too much moving of the story...more
People who think they don't like Margaret Atwood can't have read many of her books. I get that not every book will appeal to everyone, but while she may have a distinctive writing style, her subject matter is far more diverse than most think.

Bodily Harm is one of those books that went in a direction I didn't expect and that might well appeal to a lot of people who claim not to be an Atwood fan. At the beginning, the story of Rennie - a woman trying to find her way after breast cancer destroys h...more
I love Margaret Atwood but now I remember why I stopped reading her novels in the late 90's. They just are not good for my mental health, the whole dark aura of the book invades my life. This means the book is excellent & does its job. But it's painful.

I'm looking forward to reading some other people's reviews on Goodreads. Even though this book seems like a thriller, it's really about the main character's inner world and her relationship with her body. I'm not sure I comprehended some of t...more
Atwood is at her best again! It's not my favorite of her books but Atwood is really good at creating characters who are very disconnected from life and I'm just the opposite, if I was that disconnected I would commit suicide. This story explores breast cancer and sex and sexual feelings. I understand some of her feelings as I had some of them after my first operation, a simple hernia operation, but as I age with more operations I don't have the same feelings.
The reviewers say that this book is...more
Once again, Margaret Atwood's style saves this book from what I would consider to be a complete failure. Her ability to make you, the reader, see the characters, to feel as though you know them as well (or as little) as they know each other and to feel the emotions they feel toward one another is her strength as a writer, and she does not fail to exploit that strength in Bodily Harm. However, the way the novel is structured around the book lends itself to a jerky-feeling reading, leaving the rea...more
Jun 29, 2013 Jj rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jj by: Old newspaper article
Shelves: fiction-general
I picked this book because it was on a list of Margaret Atwood novels, and I liked what I'd read before - A Handmaid's Tale, Alias Grace, The Year of the Flood.

This book was very different from those so I had a hard time getting into it. I thought I didn't like it because it moved too slowly and was so disconnected. Then I noticed that I couldn't stop reading it - not in the stay-up-until-3am-until-it's-done sense, but in the sense that I felt connected to the main character and wanted to know w...more
Harini Padmanabhan
I love reading and I really try not to restrict myself to any one genre. Atwood is one of the authors I like because her work cannot be slotted into any one genre and try as you might, you cannot pin down one style on her. Maybe that's why I have fallen in love with her writing. This book meant a lot to me as I am struggling with picking up a technique for writing, I read the book and I was so happy. There are no rules and I really owe a big thank you to her for this.

The plot follows Rennie a j...more
Julie Tridle
Though I've really liked other Atwood books in the past (Alias Grace, The Handmaid's Tale) I wasn't a fan of this book at all. As I read, I felt like I was trapped inside a cheesy romance novel while a much better novel was going on all around it.

In the book, the protagonist, Remmie Wilford, retreats to a Caribbean Island. She's there to write a light travel piece and to emotionally regroup after undergoing a partial mastectomy and also losing her lover. But, as it turns out, all the "good isl...more
Maria Fahlsing
I bought this book at a used book store with the excited expectation of thoroughly enjoying this novel as much as I love The Handmaid's Tale, which is also by Margaret Atwood. I've reread THT many, many times, have written in the margins, and have highlighted favorite passages and ones that really make me think or give pause. I really did try to get into this story and love it just as much.

However, it was not meant to be. Bodily Harm is slow to get going, contains a lot of extraneous characters...more
Angie Andrewes
One of the 'lost' Margaret Atwood titles I somehow missed when I went through my Atwood stage back in my first year of uni. A very early novel, I was immediately surprised at how much her literary voice was already developed! This reads like something from a much more mature author - like something from a much later point in Atwood's career. Quite simply, brilliant! Highly recommended!

What is so wonderful about Atwood's writing is the way in which she encompasses the very human problems of the i...more
Geeks Unleashed.Me
Read review by Allie at Geeks Unleashed.Me

Bodily Harm was a fresh, unforeseeable novel that did not disappoint. To start with, the writing style is something unique and altogether beautiful. While a tiny bit confusing at first, the style quickly brings past and present together in a wonderful telling of events that left me captivated. I loved the way Atwood chose to tell Rennie’s story: her ways of writing gave the novel a reminiscent quality that was entirely new and original to me.

This is not...more
Ana Mardoll
Bodily Harm / 0-385-49107-7

"Bodily Harm" is one of Atwood's earlier works, and this sometimes shows through the writing. The grim subject matter (a woman struggling with her own mortality after a bout with cancer) is thoughtfully and carefully explored, but the actual prose is a sometimes lethargic and difficult to wade through.

The main character struggles through the daily routine of her life as a magazine writer, unsure how to break through the haze induced by her struggle with cancer. She ha...more
Skilfully written as we would expect from Margaret Atwood. We follow the story of Rennie "a sweet Canadian" who flies to a fictitious Caribbean Island. Rennie is a journalist, but not the hard hitting journalist she once dreamed of being, but a superficial lifestyle journalist. "Surfaces" Rennie observes wisely "in many cases, were preferable to depths." I enjoy reading writers whose protagonist is a writer.

There is an uprising on the island, Rennie meets some of the principal political players...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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