Katja's Reviews > Cat's Eye

Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood
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Jul 15, 15

it was amazing
Read in March, 2012

Elaine Risley, a painter, returns to the city of her childhood to attend an art retrospective of her life. As she looks over her art, the story of her life unfolds, and with it all the unresolved pain of her past.

The first half of the book takes the reader through Elaine’s childhood, and the torment she suffered at the hands of three other girls, in particular the relentlessly cruel Cordelia. This part of the book resonated deeply with me, not least because I (like many) have had to come to terms with my own experience of childhood bullying. There is nothing more devastating than the world seen through the eyes of a child, and Atwood masterfully takes on the perspective of this naïve and bewildered girl. This account is devastatingly accurate in portraying how innocent and cruel children can be. The second half of the novel is the account of Elaine as she makes her way through life as best she can, while constantly struggling with the ghosts of her past.

This woman’s journey to self-acceptance is the stuff of life itself - loneliness, hope, regret, childrearing, love, relationships, fear, the desperate need to belong and the ever-present shadows of the past. Atwood writes beautifully and evocatively, and her plays on words are both clever and moving. The writing is introspective, sophisticated, and also has a wonderfully gentle humour. There is something very Freudian in Elaine’s attempts to escape her past and shut out the haunting voice of her inner child. The art show is a clever mechanic, and the way her art pieces reflect her life and growth, her pains and fears, is beautifully portrayed.

This a heartbreaking book that everyone should read. It’s intelligent, emotional, and if it doesn’t touch you in some way then you are not human.
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