Michael's Reviews > Cat's Eye

Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood
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Elaine Risley is an artist who returns to Toronto for a retrospective of her art work.

The story is told in parts with flashbacks to Elaine's childhood.

Early on, she remembers growing up and constantly moving due to her father's position as a forest insect field researcher. During this time, her older brother was her only companion and she longed for friends of her own.

Things stabilize when her father gets a job as a college professor. The family moves to Toronto and she becomes friends with three girls.

Cordelia dominates the group. She's demanding and often cruel but the little girls accept her. Elaine is vulnerable and too fearful of speaking her mind so goes along with Cordelia, even when it threatened her life. Eventually, she takes a stand but then falls back into Cordelia's control.

One of the other girls is Grace Smeath. The Smeath house has some unusual rules such as only being allowed four pieces of toilet paper when using the bathroom. Mrs. Smeath becomes one of Elaine's favorite subjects for her art work. She even has one painting of her draped out and covered with tissues.

In Elaine's adulthood, there is a showing of art for women only and the paintings of Mrs. Smeath are displayed. A woman who looks like Grace comes into the room and begins screaming. However, it was just a deranged woman.

Elaine begins art lessons and her art teacher becomes her lover. This lasts for a long time and she eventually meets and marries her first husband, Jon. He was also an artist but was jealous of Elaine's success.

We learn of Elaine through her thoughts, her friendships, and her interests. She develops an interest in the Virgin Mary and many of her art pieces are of the Virgin Mary.

This is a book that will appeal to women readers who will enjoy the literary story and feel exhilarated in Elaine's success in coming out of her shell. Men might read the story for the literary style and to have a better understanding of women.
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switterbug (Betsey) One of my favorite Atwood books!


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