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The Edible Woman

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Marian is determined to be ordinary. She lays her head gently on the shoulder of her serious fiancé and quietly awaits marriage. But she didn't count on an inner rebellion that would rock her stable routine, and her digestion. Marriage à la mode, Marian discovers, is something she literally can't stomach...

The Edible Woman is a funny, engaging novel about emotional cannibalism, men and women, and the desire to be consumed.

310 pages, Paperback

First published December 31, 1969

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About the author

Margaret Atwood

585 books78k followers
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, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction and is perhaps best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1970), The Handmaid's Tale (1983), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Atwood's dystopic novel, Oryx and Crake, was published in 2003. The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short stories) both appeared in 2006. Her most recent volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth ­ in the Massey series, appeared in 2008, and her most recent novel, The Year of the Flood, in the autumn of 2009. Ms. Atwood's work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian. In 2004 she co-invented the Long Pen TM.

Margaret Atwood currently lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.

Associations: Margaret Atwood was President of the Writers' Union of Canada from May 1981 to May 1982, and was President of International P.E.N., Canadian Centre (English Speaking) from 1984-1986. She and Graeme Gibson are the Joint Honourary Presidents of the Rare Bird Society within BirdLife International. Ms. Atwood is also a current Vice-President of PEN International.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,173 reviews
Profile Image for Julie G .
883 reviews2,749 followers
June 28, 2019
Right around the time I turned 20, a boyfriend of mine dragged me to a Yes concert. I say “dragged” not because I have anything against the band, but because I knew only two of their songs, and I was the only girl going.

My then-boyfriend and his friends were big Yes fans, and they had rented a limo stocked with booze, and it was a real party scene in that vehicle. Well, it was a real party scene for them, less so for me, the girl who didn't know Yes songs, and the one who was becoming increasingly aware that she'd been brought along as a type of ornament rather than a bona fide member of that party.

Well, little did these guys know that, though I look and act American, I have Anglo-Saxon genes, and I started hitting the booze pretty hard. I was pretty sure that, by the time we arrived at the event, I wouldn't care too much about the lyrics.

My plan backfired. Instead of becoming powerful and vengeful like an Anglo. . . or perhaps a Saxon, I became tearful, and before I knew it, I was sobbing out by the vendors, while my completely peeved date stared on in terror.

There was sobbing, there was screaming, there was the great Universal lament of all women, possessed that moment in me. How was I ever going to balance having children and a career? How could I ever afford to go to graduate school? How would a loser like this guy (him), be able to make enough money so I could raise children without working?

After the screaming and shouting and staring, I broke free (though he wasn't holding me) and I started to run from the stadium. I had no idea where I was going, I had not a dollar bill on my person, but still I ran from him (and I think I recall screaming LOSER all the way).

By the time the concert had ended, I was waiting for the party by the limo, a crumpled Saxon with no ride and nowhere left to run.

Three months later our relationship was officially over, I had my first Margaret Atwood novel in my hands, and I experienced the pleasure of meeting Marian McAlpin. Dear, dear Marian. . . Marian McAlpin, who also runs.

This week, 20+ years later, I decided to reread my Atwood debut, The Edible Woman, and it took me right back. Back to Marian, back to Ainsley, Peter and Duncan, and back to all of the colorful friends from this novel.

It was one big reading love fest, and when I arrived at the part of the story where Marian runs, I remembered the night that I shouted “No!” and ran from Yes.

Atwood does a brilliant job here of explaining, through her many delicious metaphors and superior storytelling, how we “eat or are eaten,” and that who we are as consumers of EVERYTHING, is not necessarily the crux of ANYTHING.

And she reminds us in this novel that sometimes. . . a girl's gotta run.
Profile Image for Glenn Sumi.
404 reviews1,534 followers
December 9, 2021
Margaret Atwood’s prescient first novel still offers lots to chew on

Marian, a 20-something woman in 1960s Toronto, gets engaged to her dull-but-respectable lawyer boyfriend, Peter, then soon begins losing her appetite for food. This causes problems leading up to the wedding, as Marian suffers a serious identity crisis. Perhaps she doesn’t want to submit to this marriage, after all.

This was Margaret Atwood’s first novel, and besides the funny and insightful writing, the book was way ahead of its time.

Atwood wrote it in the early-to-mid-60s, and because of a publishing snafu it wasn’t published until 1969. Still, this was long before anorexia nervosa was a common disorder. Marian’s roommate, Ainslie, wants to have a baby out of wedlock, which was far less of an acceptable option then than it became later. And the book’s implicit critique of Marian’s expected life – go to school to find a husband, work until you get married and/or have a child – was seen as an outgrowth of feminism, even though Atwood, in a later introduction, admits she wrote it before the movement.

I love how Atwood carefully sets up Marian’s condition. She works at a marketing research firm, so she’s constantly aware of the rampant consumerism around her. Food metaphors abound in the early chapters. Marian’s office “company is layered like an ice-cream sandwich, with the three floors: the upper crust, the lower crust, and our department, the gooey layer in the middle.” Furthermore, the humidity in the office is unbearable: “The air-conditioning system, I saw, had failed again, though since it is merely a fan which revolves in the centre of the ceiling, stirring the air around like a spoon in soup, it makes little difference whether it is going or not.”

One of the cleverest moves was switching the POV, once Marian starts becoming unstable, from first-person to third-person. It’s as if Marian begins viewing what’s happening to her at a remove. She’s alienated from herself.

And the secondary characters are all highly amusing, from the forthright Ainslie to Marian’s co-workers – dubbed “the office virgins,” all sporting dyed blonde hair – to Duncan, a boyish grad student who’s everything Peter isn’t. The literary digressions by Duncan and his academic roommates might seem commonplace today – psychosexual interpretations of Alice In Wonderland, etc. (think of the eating metaphors in it) – back then they must have been incredibly refreshing.

I also like wondering if Duncan is real or a figment of Marian’s imagination.

Atwood has some difficulty handling the passage of time, and there’s not much about Marian’s family.

But the look at WASPy, straight-laced 1960s-era Toronto is fascinating; one scene in which two unmarried people try to find a hotel to have sex in is hilarious but was likely grounded in truth.

And the book holds up incredibly well. There are still lots of Marians and Peters out there, and society’s obsession with food, consumption and the glamorization of the ideal life has grown exponentially over nearly 50 years.

A brilliant fictional debut by a writer who would go on to become one of the most influential and prolific voices of her generation.
Profile Image for Fergus, Quondam Happy Face.
971 reviews17.6k followers
May 25, 2023
Have you ever been emotionally cannibalized, like Marian - the antsy but eminently lovable heroine of this, Atwood's first novel - written in the late sixties BEFORE she was famous?

I have, and so I LOVED this one!

I have very vivid memories of reading it soon after it was released - in a Voyageur coach bound for La Belle Province. I often supported our Rough Riders back then by cheering in the stands, and this game being in Montreal means it must have been a semifinal.

I think we musta lost, cause I was glum, but Marian gave me a cheerful attitude on the way back - by way of consolation!

What a lark this book was to me. I remember reading it, too, in the dinky little hens' coop of an office I worked at in '73/74. I had no idea then of the Dark angst that would later descend on Atwood in Surfacing, which I read in another office on my breaks one or two years later.

After Surfacing, with rare exceptions, I avoided her. There was already too much darkness in my domestic life, thank you very much. I could do without. I started to read pop fiction more and more.

It was much later that I felt the emotional cannibalism that Marian so aptly calls those bad moments of being sucked in. Ever felt your heart and innards being GNAWED upon by Dark, Depressive People? That's being EDIBLE too, guys.

Anyway, now - long escaped from those fangs of death through acute awareness - I can happily recommend Edible Woman HIGHLY.

And depending where you're at in your OWN interior struggle -

It'll either CHEER you - or CONSOLE you.

And either way you're ahead!
Profile Image for Fabian.
947 reviews1,563 followers
August 27, 2019
A novel with a major, very creepy power. Very different from her latter books, "The Edible Woman" is about the destructive power of man-woman relationships and it takes place in a world of robotic emotions and mechanical compulsions (not too far off from the Victorian variety!).

The novel, a true avantgarde sociosexual depiction, borrows its demonic tone from Hawthorne, its cinematography from Cronenberg, its absurdism from David Lynch. Also, it contains all the brilliance & pseudo-silliness of Beckett. Gender role reversal is perhaps the outstanding theme here. In "The Edible Woman," bearded men act like giant babies, a woman can be metaphorically & literally eaten, and all the young men and women are desperate and yearning to fill up their counterparts' role according to society and history. Like a J.G. Ballard yarn of quiet hysteria and a deep, scathing discomfort (hard to peg this one down without so many similes!), "Woman" is satire supreme gone awry. As well as top-notch topsy-turvy.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,560 reviews859 followers
May 14, 2022
First published in 1969(!), this was Atwood's first published book. Entering the lives of single woman Marian and her 1960's world of work, relationships and friendships. This is a pretty interesting debut for the now world famous writer as it assuredly sets a marker in the sand for what came next over the next 5 decades. A clever, witty, and at times almost angry work centred around Marian her path towards non-partner seeking related self-determination, which is very much against the norm of the time, and quite cleverly directed by her own inner self! Although a very interesting and thought provoking first half, the latter parts of the book looses its way a bit as it attempts to shoe horn Marian's experience towards the intended resolution. A must-read though if you like Atwood, the 60s stirring of feminism and/or just for historical bookish-ness :) 4 out of 12.

2022 read
Profile Image for Barry Pierce.
559 reviews7,428 followers
June 28, 2017
I decided to re-read this because its white spine always calls my attention next to the black spines of Austen and Brontë. My review from two and a half years ago, to paraphrase Talking Heads, seems to talk a lot but not say anything.

The Edible Woman was Atwood's first novel, and thus I must treat it like a first novel. Atwood was twenty-six when she wrote this, and it reads like it. The novel presents itself as a tale of a women who is faced with the awful prospect of marriage. The thought of her imminent nuptials causes Marian, our protagonist, to start viewing foods as living entities. It first starts with meat, Marian can only see the animal it once was on her plate. Then it becomes far worse. She cannot eat carrots because she can only imagine the great pain it must have caused them to be ripped from the ground. She peers into a boiled egg and all she sees is a yellow eye staring back at her (very Bataille!). For Marian, eating any food at all becomes a sort of cannibalism.

However, I wish that this is what the novel actually is. The actual 'edible woman' part of The Edible Woman does not happen until roughly two-thirds into the novel. Instead, most of this novel is just us following Marian as she goes to work, or visits to the launderette, or goes from door to door asking people to fill out surveys. It can get boring and it puts you in the strange position of actually wanting Marian to hurry up and have her mental breakdown already. Thankfully Atwood created the character of Ainsley, Marian's flatmate, who decides that she wants to have a baby but only so she can raise it herself away from the damaging influence of a father figure. Due to these kind of themes throughout the novel, Atwood has referred to the book as a proto-feminist work. I suppose Ainsley could be seen as a precursor to Val from Marilyn French's The Women's Room.

The most disappointing aspect of this novel however is where it ends up going. I cannot discuss this part in detail as it would be a spoiler but, for those who have read it, I detest Duncan.

So, after my re-read I've decided to take a star away from my original review. It is now a two-star novel, meaning it's alright but I don't recommend unless you're an Atwood completest.

Original review from 3/1/15
Well this is a novel that is fecund with originality. I really enjoyed this. Basically imagine if The Bell Jar was actually good and readable, then you'd have this. I really admire Atwood's decision to switch between third- and first-person narration. It's very clever and works marvellously. In fact this whole novel is very clever and marvellous. What a wonderful way to begin my #YearofAtwood.
Profile Image for Ines.
320 reviews195 followers
September 20, 2019
This story is perhaps the most pathological, dystopian and absurd I’ve ever read.... I try to leave my profession as a psychiatrist hidden and behind, I know, impossible thing and I would like to evaluate with the eyes of an average, normal person this book, as happened to me, that not wanting to take this particular work in the library, I chose it because it was struck by the cover.
The plot is nothing complicated, rather, complete monotony. We will meet Mariam, a very quiet girl but a little weird..(I swear, from the initial descriptions made, it looked like a high functioning autistic girl!!) She works for a market survey company, shares an apartment with a friend, and "survives" with very few social relationships, mostly fragile, fragmented and somewhat superficial. Marian, even in her typicality, is not at all stupid or superficial, and this is where, as we will see, a real psychotic obsession will be inserted that will push her to aberrant, tragic and distressing situations.
The obsession of not eating because otherwise she will risk "to be eaten by the colleagues and the few friends". Peter, with his request to marry her, opens the Pandora’s box, unfortunately giving life to a real psychiatric life to Mariam.
Why did I give such a low rating? because the plot, will make your skin crawl, is ambiguous to its maximum power to make you doubt that it is set in a dystopian world, but no, we are in Canada, I assume in the 90s.
The plot is divided into three parts, the first, a cosmic bothering., here I really risked to give up the book, nothing special happens but this total apathy of all the characters..... all but I say all, from the first part of the book up to the third, are painful to life, without effective" brio" desire, to know with more interest and curiosity and friends, colleagues or those who meet in life.
All characters who could be pulled out from a day center for psychiatric rehabilitation, so dear GR readers, it is not that there is to stay relaxed and happy in the face of an expectation of such, men and women totally detached from themselves and hateful! This you will read, perhaps the only one who is saved a little is Duncan( kind of lover/friend to her), but unfortunately unable to have an incisiveness or support on the tragedy of Mariam... paradoxically we will see in the first and second part of the book as a dull woman, manipulated by everyone about everything and everything, devoid of precise desires, but it is precisely during her "obsession" that the real Mariam desperately tries to know herself, asking questions to herself and desperately tries to get out of that sick vortex that prevents her from " living" in all senses., so the plot's clue will arrive at the end only!!, in the third part!
Do you want to hurt yourselves? then read this novel, it is a sick story, totally sick.
I’m surprised that Atwood wrote this story as a debut novel, you will no longer feel this redundant distorted vision of all reality, almost like a "psychiatric manual", in her other works, for sue the ones that I have read..
Do you know why I do not recommend it? because it is inconclusive, because Mariam......will be able to get out?

Questa storia è forse la piu' patologia, distopica e assurda che abbia mai letto.....cerco di lasciarmi alle spalle la mia professione di medico psichiatra, lo so, cosa impossibile e vorrei valutare con gli occhi di una persona normalissima questo libro, come è successo a me, che non volendo assolutamente prendere in biblioteca questa particolare opera, l'ho comunque scelta perchè folgorata dalla copertina.
La trama non è nulla di complicato,anzi, monotonia completa, conosceremo Mariam, una ragazza tranquillissima ma un tantino stramba ( giuro, dalle descrizioni iniziali fatte, sembrava un autismo ad alta funzionalità!!) lavora per una società di indagini di mercato, condivide un appartamento con una amica e "sopravvive" con pochissime relazioni sociali, per lo piu' fragili, frammentate e alquanto superficiali. Marian, pur nella sua tipicità, non è assolutamente ne stupida ne scema o superficiale, ed è qui che come poi vedremo, si innesterà un vera ossessione psicotica che la spingerà a situazioni aberranti, tragicomiche e laceranti. L'ossessione di non mangiare perchè in caso contrario rischia" di essere mangiata dalle colleghe e dai pochi amici". . Peter, con la sua richiesta di sposarla, apre il vaso di Pandora, dando vita purtroppo ad un vero vivere psichiatrico di Mariam.
Perchè ho dato una valutazione così bassa? perchè la storia vi farà accapponare la pelle, è ambigua alla sua massima potenza tanto da farvi venire il dubbio che sia ambientata in un mondo distopico, invece no, siamo in Canada, presumo negli anni 90.
La trama è divisa in due parti, la prima, una balla cosmica.... qui ho proprio rischiato di abbandonare il libro, nulla di particolare accade se non questa totale apaticità di tutti i personaggi, tutti ma dico tutti, dalla prima parte del libro sino alla terza, sono dolenti alla vita, senza brio effettivo a conoscere con piu' interesse e curiosità e desiderio amici, colleghi o chi si incontra nella vita.
Tutti personaggi che si potrebbero tirare fuori da centri diurni per la riabilitazione psichiatrica, quindi cari lettori GR, non è che c'è da stare rilassati e contenti di fronte ad una aspettativa del genere, uomini e donne totalmente avulse su loro stessi e odiosi! questo leggerete, forse l'unico che si salva un filino è Duncan, ma purtroppo incapace ad avere una incisività o supporto sulla tragedia di Mariam... paradossalmente la vedremo nella prima e seconda parte del libro come una donna scialba, manipolata da tutti su tutto e per ogni cosa, priva di desideri precisi
E' proprio durante la sua " Ossessione" che la vera Mariam tenta e cerca disperatamente di conoscere se stessa, si pone delle domande e cerca disperatamente di uscire da quel vortice malato che le impedisce di " vivere" in tutti i sensi.
Volete farvi del male? allora leggete questo romanzo, è una storia malata, totalmente malata.
Mi sorprende che la Atwood abbia scritto questa storia come romanzo d'esordio, non si percepirà piu' questa ridondante visione distorta di tutta la realtà, quasi da " manuale psichiatrico", nelle altre sue opere che ho letto....
lo sapete perchè ve lo sconsiglio? perchè è inconcludente, perchè Mariam......riuscirà ad uscirne?
Profile Image for etherealfire.
1,210 reviews208 followers
January 26, 2019
The first book I read by Margaret Atwood in the mid-eighties and the one that made me a fan. I had never read anything quite like it before and I was hooked.
Profile Image for Meaghan.
12 reviews2 followers
June 26, 2007
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 he wants to have sex in the bathtub. Marian agrees, but isn’t thrilled. She thinks Peter is attempting to act out things he read about. Sex in the bathtub, she decides, is a scene from a murder mystery he read. She notes: “but wouldn’t that [the scene Peter read about] rather be someone drowned in the bathtub? A woman.”
In the end, Marian breaks her engagement and tries to feed Peter a cake she made to look like herself, claiming that he wants to devour her. There is a clear feminist voice throughout the story and the message is not as simple as marriage consumes women. Marian decides that her independence is more important than a marriage to someone who does not let her be an individual.
The intersection between Marian’s sexuality and eating habits are salient in today’s popular culture. While The Edible Woman was written before eating disorders were discussed, they are now a big part of our culture. The relationship between food and sexuality is even fodder for situation comedy—Last night I watched a rerun of Friends in which Monica and Rachel show Chandler how to deal with being dumped “the women way.” They hand him soy-milk ice-cream and tell him that you have to eat healthy ice-cream when heartache happens frequently. When he gets really depressed they break out the full-fat Ben and Jerry’s.
The message is clear—when women are upset, it affects the way they eat. Unlike Monica and Rachel, who binge eat when they are upset, Marian responses to problems in her relationship by starving herself. Why did she stop eating? Does she want to starve the dependent person she had become? While in 1965 Atwood used the idea of food and Marian’s self imposed starvation as a metaphor, today the idea of a women starving herself as a relationship deteriorates is sadly a cliché.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Emily Coffee and Commentary.
376 reviews110 followers
September 23, 2022
A darkly humorous story of femininity, power dynamics, and consumerism. The characters are both infuriating and likable, and emulate the issues of gender expectations and sense of self very effectively. This was fantastic for a debut.

Bonus points: the bell jar meets the vegetarian, a striking work of feminism.
Profile Image for Marchpane.
293 reviews2,128 followers
September 2, 2019
The Edible Woman , Margaret Atwood’s debut novel, is a slightly topsy-turvy inverted fairytale, with shades of Mad Men in its focus on consumer culture and the stifling social conventions of the mid-Sixties. Published in 1969 but written a few years earlier, Atwood’s sly humour elevates this story of one woman’s identity crisis amid the restrictive expectations placed on young women of the time (marriage and babies, in that order).

In some ways this novel is like a time capsule from a lost era – we are no longer scandalised by unwed mothers or expect women to quit their jobs upon marrying – but there’s still plenty of relevance in the ways women are ‘packaged’ for consumption, and the pressure to conform. Plus, Atwood’s writing remains fresh and very readable.

Written 20 years before the dystopian The Handmaid’s Tale, it’s interesting to compare the two novels: both show women confined to roles as baby-making machines, Stepford wives or bureaucratic matrons enforcing the status quo… But The Edible Woman is fun, jaunty even, a comedy of manners that relies on wit and charm to get its satirical point across (with some mild surrealism thrown in). Later, The Handmaid’s Tale would dispense with humour altogether, to present its nightmare scenario as a plausible outgrowth of the faintly absurd social mores displayed here. I’m looking forward to seeing where Atwood takes the theme next in The Testaments.

Reading The Edible Woman, it’s clear that Atwood has been from the beginning a keen observer of the societal constraints placed on women. In this debut, her barbs are sort of gently pointed rather than piercing, but it’s very far from lightweight. Sardonic insights served with a wink and a pink swirl of buttercream icing. 4 stars.
Profile Image for Oriana.
Author 2 books3,300 followers
July 6, 2011
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 Duncan, who was I believe my very first literary crush, when I was like fifteen. But some of the magic is gone this time. He's gotten a little clichéd with over-reading, I guess? (I've easily read this ten times.)

2. I was really surprised how steeped in fifties mentality and early feminist theory it was. Marian has to quit her job when they find out she's getting married, for example, and this is accepted placidly as normal. Huh?

3. While the story is totally awesome and the characters are incredibly great, the most important element (for me) of any Margaret Atwood book is always the stunning stunning language, which was not so much on display here. This was (I'm pretty sure) her first published novel, but she was a poet before that, and so it's not like she didn't already know how to turn like the most beautiful phrases ever.

4. The whole "not eating" thing... Gosh, I'd remembered it being like the whole book, this agonizing descent, food item by food item, into essential starvation, but actually she doesn't even stop eating meat until like a third of the way through the book.

5. Also, I remembered being totally on Marian's side when she goes sort of crazy, but this time she really did seem a bit more hysterical, a bit less a victim of oppressive and destabilizing circumstances.

6. Also WTF, I was so bummed that (minor spoiler, I guess, if you care) Ainslie wound up deciding to get married after all—even trying to get Len to marry her! Blaugh. (Again, though, this was written in, what, the mid-fifties or early sixties? So what do I know.)

7. It made me really upset to realize, about halfway through, that I am older than these characters. If not all of them, at least most. I don't really feel like going into why this was so disconcerting, but it was, staggeringly.
Profile Image for Meike.
1,515 reviews2,460 followers
February 23, 2019
Written in 1965, this is a protofeminist work that anticipated second wave feminism in North America - and it is important to keep that in mind when reading it, because fortunately, some aspects seem outdated for today's readers; unfortunately though, other aspects are still upsettingly relevant. Discussing gender stereotypes and consumerism, the story is told from the perspective of Marian, a young woman who works for a market research company and slowly loses her sense of self after getting engaged. Marian is expected to perform in the roles ascribed to her and to consume in a market economy, until she slowly loses her appetite and feels unable to consume food. The situation of the protagonist is contrasted by that of her roommate who plots to become pregnant without the prospective father's consent and a friend who suffers as a housewife and mother of three.

All of this is of course highly allegorical (but not as abstract and clever as Han Kang's The Vegetarian) and many scenes shine due to Atwood's ability to write psychologically convincing dialogue, but the main problem of the book is its portrayal of male characters: In this novel, all men are idiots. The fiance is imprisoned in his own role, trying to live up to what is expected of him as "the man", the lover is a manipulative drifter, and the others are mere plot devices.

So while Atwood's debut novel certainly isn't a bad book, there's a reason why this is not as widely read today as a lot of her other works.
Profile Image for Rowena.
500 reviews2,467 followers
August 26, 2015
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 tell 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 the second. The second half seemed a bit too rushed to me.

One thing I found interesting was how different things were in the 1960s, when this book was written. There is absolutely no way that a woman conducting door-to-door surveys would even consider going into a male survey participant's home these days. Also, feminism has changed the ways in which women think; for example, after marriage, a woman isn't expected to quit her job and stay home. Also, having a child out of marriage isn't considered terrible anymore either.

Profile Image for Ferdy.
944 reviews1,111 followers
March 13, 2015
4.5 stars - Spoilers

Loved this, it was weird and wonderful. I thought I was going to hate it after reading the first few chapters, it was so slow moving and boring. It was only until the main character (Marian) started to think strange thoughts and act totally nutty that I started to get really engrossed in the story and characters.

-I didn't like Marian whatsoever, she was passive, irritating and all round doormat. But despite being a largely pathetic and frustrating character, she was utterly engaging. Well, she was once she got engaged to her boyfriend and went a little bonkers.
Marian had so many negative thoughts about everyone around her, especially when it came to the women she worked and lived with. The way she described them genuinely made me think that the female population consisted solely of vile-disgusting creatures - Marian's view of others was that bleak and depressing, there wasn't one person she thought of in a positive light. I would usually get bored with characters that were constantly bitchy and mean, but for some reason I didn't mind it in Marian, I think the writing was just that good.

-I couldn't sympathise or relate to Marian at all when it came to her home, work, and love life. She let herself be treated like crap and never stood up to anyone, it was impossible to feel for her when she had the power to refuse to be oppressed or changed. She could have told everyone to fuck off but she chose not to.
Marian felt she was being consumed/destroyed/moulded by her fiancé (Peter) and was losing her sense of self.. And I guess that was true, but what she was feeling wasn't Peter's fault or anyone else's. No-one forced her to be engaged and to act a certain way, but she went along with it because she was weak. She played the good wifey role when she could have walked away or demanded to be treated differently. I know in those times it was difficult but that didn't change the fact that she did have choices.. But she caved into societal expectations, she could have held onto herself but she took the easy route out (well, up until the very end of the book).
I was glad Marian finally grew a backbone stopped being so wishy-washy, silent, and melodramatic about everything.
The cake scene with Peter was epic, I think he had a lucky escape, if he got stuck with Marian she would have ended up going completely bonkers. And even though Peter was a douche, he wouldn't have deserved that when he was more than upfront about who he was and what he wanted, whilst Marian was the one who was hiding her true self, lying and suppressing herself. Yea, she was all sorts of twisted and fucked up, I loved it.

-Ainsley was a cow, but a thoroughly entertaining one. She was a slimy, manipulative, hypocrite, opportunistic twit. She started off acting like she was oh so progressive and independent but slowly showed her true backwards-sexist-homophobic-traditional-woman colours. It was interesting to read her character unfolding in that way.
The way she walked all over Marian, bossed her around and took advantage of her was initially irritating but after a while I was applauding her. If Marian let herself be walked all over then that was Marian's problem. If Marian was so willing to be used then why shouldn't Ainsley use her? I much prefer characters who do whatever it takes to get what they want no matter who they hurt or take advantage of over simpering martyrs any day.

-Ainsley playing Len was hilarious. I loved that she was the one doing all the using and game playing so she could get what she wanted, it was even funnier because Len thought that he was the one who was in control. It was great how he totally lost the plot and became terrified of women and being trapped, it was so deliciously fucked up and the perfect karma for all the girls in the past he no doubt used and threw away.

-I loathed both Peter and Duncan. They treated Marian like crap, but I suppose I couldn't blame them for that since Marian was all too accommodating in her doormat ways.
Duncan was a pretentious wanker, but his ironing issues and manipulative attitude made him an intriguing if detestable character.
Peter was a sexist pig, and that was about it, his character didn't offer anything else, I didn't find him nearly as engrossing as Duncan.

-I was surprised that Marian's aversion to food started well over half way in the book, the way the blurb was written I was expecting it to start pretty much straight away.

-I don't know why but the job Marian had at the survey place and the job Ainsley had at the toothbrush place didn't seem like plausible jobs for the time/setting it was set in. They probably were but for some reason they didn't ring true to me.

-Liked Marian's brief reflections on her university days, they were really well done.

-I didn't get the Fish/Trevor/Duncan unit, it was rather odd. I thought Fish/Trevor were gay at first the way they acted, but then Fish was into Ainsley and happily married her (the sucker). The relationship and dynamics between them wasn't very clear, especially in how they treated Duncan. I didn't get why they were so careful and protective of him, I'm guessing Duncan manipulated them like he did Marian. He was a crafty bastard that one.

-The various themes running throughout the book were really interesting. Gender roles, femininity, marriage, consumerism, and female dynamics were all touched upon (and probably loads of others I missed). Yea, I was really impressed with all the layers and complexity in The Edible Woman - it made a welcome change from my usual shallow reads.

All in all, I loved it. I'll definitely be checking out more Margaret Atwood books.
Profile Image for Cristina.
366 reviews232 followers
November 4, 2015
“Las metas del movimiento feminista no se han alcanzado, y quienes aseguran que vivimos en una era post-feminista se equivocan, lamentablemente, o se han cansado ya de pensar en estos temas”. Declaraciones de Margaret Atwood, 1979.

Da terror y pena constatar que las palabras de Margaret Atwood siguen vigentes en la actualidad. Da terror y pena ver literalmente transcritas en la novela situaciones que te han pasado en la vida real. El contexto es Canadá a finales de los 60, yo hablo de España en el año 2015. Estoy hablando de ejemplos propios del heteropatriarcado imperante que se lleva a las mujeres por delante sin que se den cuenta o se conformen o incluso lleguen a justificarlo. La clave para la falta de rebelión y cuestionamiento está en saberlo vender con colores alegres, confeti y serpentinas.

Tomando como punto de partida los temas que se tratan en la novela e intercalando ejemplos reales intentaré poner de manifiesto que no solo no estamos en el Canadá descrito por Atwood en esta novela, en términos de igualdad de género, sino que incluso hemos retrocedido.

1.- La mujer como objeto sexual y la violencia que se ejerce sobre ella.

Aparece esta idea cuando Marian debe huir despavorida de un viejo baboso a quien está haciendo una encuesta en su domicilio cuando casi se le tira encima. También cuando relata el caso de un acosador telefónico que se hace pasar por un encuestador sobre el consumo de lencería femenina haciendo cada vez preguntas más íntimas a las interesadas hasta que se dan cuenta del engaño.

Personalmente he tenido que soportar piropos callejeros, tuve que ver cuando tenía 14 años a un exhibicionista meneársela para luego echarme a correr con la amiga con la que iba y que el trauma me durara una semana, tuve que rechazar una invitación para subirme en el coche de un viejo a los 15 cuando iba caminado sola tranquilamente por la calle a pleno día, y en dos ocasiones recibí hacia los 20 años llamadas de anónimos monstruosos, similares a la que describe Margaret Atwood en la novela, que se la debían estar cascando mientras hablaban conmigo. Y eso es lo más suave que te puede pasar por el solo hecho de ser mujer. No hace mucho apareció muerta una chica en Tarragona, http://www.elperiodico.com/es/noticia... , pero ella seguramente se lo buscó, como insinúa la noticia al decir que “frecuentaba ambientes bohemios.” No es un caso aislado. Este verano una mujer americana que recorría el Camino de Santiago sola fue encontrada muerta, http://politica.elpais.com/politica/2.... En la noticia se hace hincapié en el hecho que el presunto asesino ya había molestado a mujeres en otras ocasiones. Por no hablar de las muertes de mujeres como consecuencia de la violencia de género que podemos ver habitualmente en los periódicos. Si comentas estas situaciones con colegas hombres te dirán que son casos aislados, propios de psicópatas o enfermos mentales. Yo les preguntaría, ¿cuántos hombres en circunstancias similares han fallecido por muerte violenta en los últimos dos años en este país?

2.- El rol de la mujer en la pareja en el contexto del sistema capitalista.

En la novela, Marian tiene dos relaciones sentimentales. Una con Peter y otra con Duncan. En ambas es tratada como un objeto. Peter es el novio formal. El arquetipo de novio que toda mujer en su “sano juicio” querría tener. Abogado de ideas conservadoras al que se le intuyen multitud de éxitos profesionales que finalmente ha sentado la cabeza y ha decidido comprometerse con Marian. En la relación con Peter, Marian ha de cumplir el papel de mujer florero: le acompaña a las reuniones con amigos o renuncia a pasar tiempo con él en aras de su importantísima carrera profesional, de la que van a vivir los dos, puesto que decide que dejará de trabajar y se dedicará a las labores del hogar y a los hijos. Todo de cara a dar una imagen de matrimonio feliz “como debe ser”. Cuando atisba lo que le espera Marian decide inconscientemente huir porque no se ve en ese papel. Entonces aparece Duncan. Duncan es el polo opuesto a Peter. Seduce a Marian con un halo de misterio y con digresiones intelectualoides que llaman su atención pero al final resulta ser igual o peor que Peter. Duncan utiliza a Marian para alimentar su masculinidad. Se trata de un cobarde ególatra que no piensa en nada más que en sí mismo. Para él Marian carece de sentimientos. En ambos casos la mujer sirve al hombre: en el primer caso como esposa perfecta, en el segundo, como distracción puntual, como si de una prostituta se tratara, hamburguesa que se traga casi sin masticar y se olvida rápidamente para devorar a otra. Se trata de consumir personas como se consume cualquier otra cosa. En ninguno de los dos casos se ve a la mujer como una igual, como una compañera.

Ante esta situación, Marian se siente totalmente perdida y fuera de lugar. No encaja como esposa sumisa, tampoco como amante de usar y tirar. Y le pasa factura. Empieza a sufrir trastornos alimenticios. Podríamos decir que psicomatiza su sufrimiento.

En la vida real ocurre algo parecido. Conozco algunas parejas con hijos pequeños en las que ellas han dejado de trabajar para poderse ocupar de los niños. Viven todos del sueldo del marido. Personalmente creo que la independencia económica de la mujer es esencial para poder garantizar la independencia personal. Creía que eso ya estaba más que superado. Pero no es así. Me pregunto qué pasaría en el supuesto de que el marido se fuera con otra. Si tienes un sueldo es fácil, lo dejas y punto. Si vives del sueldo de él te toca aguantar. Personalmente creo que es un retroceso para que se dé una relación sana de igualdad en una pareja.

Y después está la crisis de los 30 largos, casi 40. Querer volver a la juventud o “ir en busca de Duncan”.

3.- La maternidad como proyecto esencial en la vida de una mujer.

En la novela vemos reflejada esta idea en el personaje de Ainsley, que decide ser madre soltera, y en el de Clara, de la que se muestra su “idílica vida familiar”. El hecho de tener un hijo se sigue asociando a la mujer, no al hombre. Pero no son solo ellos los culpables, ellas aceptan el rol que la sociedad les impone sin rechistar y se acaban creyendo que es su naturaleza, hablo en serio. El otro día estaba con unas compañeras de trabajo en un descanso y hablaban de sus hijos pequeños. Vamos por la tarde a reuniones de un grupo de mamás a compartir experiencias. Te sientes sola. Se me ocurrió preguntar, ¿hay padres? No, es solo de madres, es que Cris, no se puede explicar, el vínculo que tiene una madre con su hijo no lo tendrá nunca un padre. No, yo seguro que no lo entiendo, no tengo hijos. Me callé. Pero estuve a punto de decir ¿y si la pareja es de dos hombres? Entonces qué.

La mujer pasa por el embarazo (una experiencia presentada como idílica en la publicidad que nos bombardea, cuando en realidad, una mujer embarazada tiene mucho sueño, está cansada, puede sufrir vómitos, náuseas, le duele la espalda si debe estar mucho tiempo sentada en el trabajo…), el parto (no comment), la recuperación posterior y un bebé a la vez que depende de ella si opta por la lactancia materna que es lo mejor en términos saludables. El padre tiene 15 días de permiso y después, venga nena, tira tú sola con el niño que yo me vuelvo a mis cosas. Es como está montado. Es lo normal. Ellas se piden la jornada reducida, ellas pasan la mayor parte de su tiempo con los bebés. ¿Por qué si los niños son de los dos? Ellas pueden llegar a sentirse malas madres si no se ocupan de sus hijos pero y ¿ellos?, ¿Se sienten malos padres por llegar a partir de las 8 de la noche a casa? No, ni se plantea, es LO NORMAL. El proyecto de la maternidad como algo individual de la mujer y como “culminación de su feminidad” también lo conozco de cerca. Inconscientemente sé de mujeres que tienen metido en la cabeza “a los 30 seré madre”, importa menos con quien pero YO quiero ser madre. En esos casos pueden darse diversos supuestos: me quedo embarazada, tengo al hijo y él y yo formamos un pack indisoluble y bueno, el padre por ahí está; o bien también se da el caso de lo que he bautizado como “masculinización” de la mujer, las que quieren una carrera profesional exitosa sin renunciar a la maternidad. En este último caso se pagará el servicio de cuidar al bebé porque ni él ni ella tendrán tiempo de estar con el niño. Entonces, ¿para qué tienes hijos? En serio, ¿alguien piensa en lo mejor para los hijos en cualquiera de los casos? ¿O se piensa en satisfacer una necesidad personal de querer tener un hijo porque lo dicta la sociedad, como si de un mueble o de un juguete se tratara? Supongo que sea como fuere en algo tenemos que estar ocupados.

Sobre la cuestión de la maternidad leí el otro día un artículo de Rosa Montero interesantísimo: http://elpais.com/elpais/2015/10/19/e...

Después de todas estas reflexiones a las que me ha llevado la lectura del libro, solo queda por decir que Margaret Atwood pasa a ser una de mis escritoras favoritas, de la que pienso leer muchos más de sus libros. Destaco su frescura, su ingenio, su ironía y su valentía. Me encanta.

Una entrevista para conocerla mejor: http://www.letraslibres.com/revista/l...
Profile Image for Kuszma.
2,196 reviews152 followers
August 22, 2022
Tulajdonképpen egyetlen döntéshelyzetre felépített regény: mit kezd Marian azzal, hogy barátja, Peter megkezdi az ő fogyaszthatóvá tételét. Bepácolja, előfőzi, a jegyesség gesztusával nekiáll bemelegíteni a sütőt, hogy aztán a házasság aktusával létrehozza minden férfi álmát, a frissre, ropogósra sült asszonyt, amit aztán jó étvággyal bekebelezhet*. No most felmerülhet a kérdés, miszerint hogy lehet egyetlen döntéshelyzetre 460 oldalas regényt alapozni? Mert ugye a 460 oldal már túl van azon a lélektani határon, ahol a regényeket hajlamos vagyok "hosszúnak" nevezni.

Atwood módszerének kulcsa a kontrapontozás. Telehinti a szöveget olyan figurákkal, akik megvillantják a Marian előtt álló egyéb lehetőségeket. Ott vannak az irodai vénkisasszonyok, a nőtudatos lakótárs, Clara ipari léptékű gyerekszülésre alapozott házassága, no és persze Duncan, aki egyfajta alternatív kapcsolati formát kínál a Peterrel kialakítható konformista viszony helyett**. Ezek a szereplők (enyhe karikatúraszerűségükkel együtt) mind elevenek, megvan a maguk kis világa, amit a szövegbe installálva emelik annak becsét. Mert becses könyv ez: plasztikus, fullasztó, erős. Az ember nem azt gondolja, hogy "hm, kellemes bemutatkozás ez, egy leendő nagy író szárnypróbálgatása", hanem hogy "huh, hát hogy lehet már pályakezdéskor ilyen izmos szöveggel előjönni? így kibontani a kérdéseket, így rétegezni a mondanivalót, avagy, összegezve: így megírni egy nagyregényt?"

Hát, így lehet.

* Különben Peter eljárását illetően nekem nem is annyira a gasztronómia jutott eszembe mint analógia, hanem a lakberendezés. Hogy a férfi úgy kezeli Mariant, mint egy drága bútort vagy dísztárgyat, ami túl sokba kerül és túl sok helyet foglal ahhoz, hogy felelőtlenül megvásároljuk, de ha már letettük voksunkat a tranzakció mellett, elvárjuk, hogy az maradéktalanul betöltse funkcióját. Ha például egy kanapéról beszélünk, ne akarja állólámpává képezni magát, ha pedig falikárpitot választunk, az ne jelentse be az igényét, hogy ő mégis futószőnyegként képzeli el a jövőjét. Akárhogy is, Atwood gasztronómiai metaforája alkalmas arra, hogy ezt a kérdést kiélezze, és adjon neki egy provokatív felütést.
** Hajlamos vagyok tényként kezelni, hogy Marian viszonya Duncannal épp annyira életképtelen, mint Peter kapcsolati kannibalizmusa. Vagy tán még életképtelenebb. Ő ugyanis még időlegesen sem hajlandó színlelni, hogy Marian bármilyen szinten változást idézhetne elő benne, nyíltan másik bolygónak tartja, ami soha nem fog egy pályán mozogni vele. Való igaz, ez legalább őszinte hozzáállás, és az is biztos, hogy egy Duncannal lefolytatott viszony legalább nem lenne konform. De ezzel együtt ugyanúgy beteg viszony lenne. Ilyen értelemben nem is tekinthető alternatívának, sokkal inkább az egész ügy általános nehézségére utal.
Profile Image for Elaine.
112 reviews40 followers
January 26, 2013
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 real or honest, even with themselves!. Of course, the characters were different from each other but to me, all of them came across as grey and boring and totally unable to have fun of any kind. Even Duncan who was I think meant to be a little more real and honest than the others,[he always told you after he lied] wasn't really a character I liked in any way.
From a social history aspect it was interesting, particularly the attitude to women which is one of the themes of the book. I was born in 1963 and yes, my Mother gave up work simply because she was getting married.She had no children til 3 years later. I never understood that and she could never adequately explain it to me. I had a slight admiration for the Joe, husband of Clara, Marian's friend from university. Here was one relationship were they could be real with each other, and totally against the traditions of his time he took the lions share of the house work while Clara was pregnant. Then he had to go and spoil it all by commenting on the problem of women going to uni:it makes them believe they are intelligent people and maybe they shouldn't be allowed to go!! I'm sure this is a true representation of 50's attitudes.
I gave it two stars as the writing was good,clever and witty. I never felt I wanted to give up and it kept me sort of interested till the end. I can see why people like it and there are many themes would be interesting to discuss. However I couldn't like it. Its a grey book, portraying the grey and boring life of grey and boring people.
Profile Image for Stela.
925 reviews352 followers
October 6, 2015
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 than that: it's an ironic view of woman's role in perpetuating the conventions of the society (especially that very traditionalist Canadian society in the seventies) and the equally conventional family values. No wonder that Marian thinks she is in danger of being consumed by Peter, and consequently prepares a cake in form of a woman for him to eat (but ironically it's herself and Duncan who'll be eating it).
The story is also a parody of the "happily ever after", since it begins with an engagement not leading to a marriage, an upside-down romantic-comedy as someone said; it's an ironic interpretation of "conosce te ipsum", as Duncan is forced by Marian to become her mirror conscience; finally, it is a satire of the marriage hopes and dreams, from the failure resented by the main character, to the hypocrisy of Ainsley, a feminist who criticizes Marian's engagement but will marry nonetheless for the sake of her unborn child, and to the resignation of Clare, a dried-up mother of three.
In the end, Marian, free to mess up again, looks for a new job and cleans her apartment, starting, of course, with the fridge, where all the food is spoiled.

Overall, the book suggests, with amused resignation, that there is no such thing as unconditional love, emotional romance, meaningful relationships. At least, not anymore.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,090 reviews2,950 followers
August 8, 2021
4.5 Stars
This is such a smart novel. Even though this novel was written in the 1960s, it reads as incredibly contemporary with social commentary on women's roles in society from marriage to motherhood. While not technically a story of anorexia, this story offers an impressingly accurate representation of the disease. (Content warnings for disordered eating behaviours and thoughts). While this novel is traditionally classified as a literary satire, I would argue that it could almost be marketed as literary horror if it was published today. I highly recommend this masterpiece of feminist Canadian literature. 
Profile Image for Helene Jeppesen.
685 reviews3,642 followers
June 28, 2016
3.5/5 stars.
This is an interesting book that deals with the theme of femininity. I liked the foreword a lot in which Margaret Atwood explains that she actually wrote this book before femininity became a subject for discussion in society. It's striking how Atwood hits spot on on some things that nowadays seem evident or at least understandable.
Marian is a funny, and at times frustrating, character who doesn't really know what she wants. Does she want to go with the flow and get married? Meanwhile, her body starts reacting strangely to her worries, and she meets some puzzling characters that only increase her confusions.
I quite liked this book because it was funny, relevant and very interesting. I do think that the book tended to get slightly boring at times, mostly because Marian's life and thoughts weren't hugely interesting at all times. But I do think that this is a great as well as important piece of work which I would recommend that you read, especially if you're interested in reading about early-days femininity.
Profile Image for Jenny.
153 reviews54 followers
March 31, 2016
Υπόθεση: Η Μάριαν κάνει μια δουλειά που δεν την ενθουσιάζει (από την οποία όμως δεν βλέπει έξοδο διαφυγής),έχει σχέση με έναν άνδρα κατά του γάμου και των δεσμεύσεων,ενώ η ίδια αποζητά κάτι παραπάνω, και μένει με μια κοπέλα με την οποία δεν έχουν κανενα κοινό,πέρα από το ότι συγκατοικούν.Ξαφνικά αρραβωνιάζεται,παθαίνει κρίση ταυτότητας και γνωρίζεται με τον Ντάνκαν.

Αυτό το βιβλίο γράφτηκε τη δεκαετία του '60 κι όμως αγγίζει ευαίσθητες χορδές που παραμένουν διαχρονικές.Δεν ξέρω πώς ακριβώς να το περιγράψω,είναι πολύ ιδιαίτερο,η κριτική θα βγει λίγο μπερδεμένη φοβάμαι!Οι χαρακτήρες είναι πολύ ανθρώπινοι και δεν ξέρω ποιον θα μπορούσαν να χαρακτηρίσω συμπαθητικό και ποιον αντιπαθητικό-ο καθένας έχει τις στιγμές του.Ταυτίστηκα πολύ σε ορισμένα σημεία με τη Μάριαν,κι έτσι την έβλεπα με συμπάθεια σε όλη τη διάρκεια της ανάγνωσης,αλλά στην πραγματικότητα κι αυτή έχει τα θέματά της.Αφήνεται να τη χειριστούν οι άλλοι,ο τρόπος με τον οποίο περιγράφει τους γύρω της δείχνει ότι με το ζόρι συμπαθεί άνθρωπο,και κάνει το μεγάλο μπαμ χωρίς όμως να έχει προσπαθήσει να αλλάξει την κατάστασή της ούτε στο ελάχιστο ενδιάμεσα.Οι σκηνές όμως που προβληματίζεται σχετικά με το ποιά είναι και τί κάνει στη ζωή της,ειδικά σε σχέση με τους γύρω της,ήταν μαχαίρι στην καρδιά.
Ο Ντάνκαν μπήκε στην όχι-και-τόσο-μικρή λίστα μου με χαρακτήρες λογοτεχνίας που ερωτεύτηκα.Τί κι αν είναι ένας εγωιστής που δεν του καίγεται καρφάκι για τους γύρω του;Τουλάχιστον το παραδέχεται ευθύς εξαρχής.Η σκηνή στο πλυντήριο,από την αρχή μέχρι το τέλος,είναι η αγαπημένη μου στο βιβλίο.Παρουσιάζει με μεγάλη ακρίβεια το συνάισθημα του να γνωρίζεις κάποιον και να αισθάνεσαι σιγά-σιγά τη δημιουργία της έλξης σου προς εκείνον.
Οι υπόλοιποι χαρακτήρες ενδιαφέροντες,ειδικά η συγκάτοικος της Μάριαν,η οποία αποφασίζει να μείνει έγκυος και κάνει τα πάντα για να το καταφέρει.Η διαδικασία της αντίστροφα από το συνηθισμένο αποπλάνησης ήταν απολαυστική-ήθελα να της φωνάξω "Τί στο καλό κάνεις;" αλλά παράλληλα το διασκέδασα πολύ.

Η αλλαγή από α' σε γ' πρόσωπο αφήγησης ήταν πολύ έξυπνη και αντιπροσωπευτική της κατάστασης της Μάριαν.Η γραφή ιδιαίτερη,με μεταφορές πολύ πετυχημένες,κυλάει ξεκούραστα το κείμενο και διαβάζεται γρήγορα το βιβλίο.

Το προτείνω ανεπιφύλακτα σε όλους,νομίζω ότι ,ειδικά στην εποχή μας που όλοι μας ψαχνόμαστε σχετικά με το ποιοι είμαστε και τί θέλουμε, πολλοί θα ταυτιστούν.Δεν προσφέρει λύσεις,προσφέρει την ανακούφιση του "υπήρξε και κάποιος άλλος που σκέφτηκε να αντιδράσει έτσι/είχε τέτοιες σκέψεις/κουβαλούσε τέτοια λόξα".

Ένα λατρεμένο απόσπασμα:
"..στην άλλη πλευρά ήταν τα κτίρια του πανεπιστημίου,τα μέρη εκείνα που νόμιζε ότι γνώριζε τόσο καλά πριν από έξι μήνες,αλλά που τώρα έστελναν μια αμυδρή εχθρότητα προς το μέρος της μέσα από τον ψυχρό αέρα, μια εχθρότητα που αναγνώρισε ότι ερχόταν απ'τον εαυτό της: κατά κάποιο σκοτεινό τρόπο,τα ζήλευε.Θα ήθελε να είχαν εξαφανιστεί όταν έφυγε,αλλά εκείνα είχαν μείνει όρθια,εξακολουθούσαν να συνεχίζουν τόσο αδιάφορα για την απουσία της,όσο,υπέθετε και για την παρουσία της."
Profile Image for Anna.
245 reviews61 followers
May 6, 2019
Well, Margaret Atwood definitely knows how to write. I almost cannot believe that this was her first novel. It's as if she was born a fully formed writer who knows what she is doing and how she wants to do it. Every word has a meaning. You need to pay attention, otherwise you will miss an important, interesting or simply smart observation or aside. Moreover, it is very funny.

Despite having been published in 1969 (and written even earlier) this feels very fresh, although surely things that were subversive and novel back then now seem much more transparent, especially to those of us familiar with the fight for women's rights. I wish issues tackled in this book were a thing of the past but they are not, even in the West. I keep picturing very real people I know behaving just like Peter and Marian, without the slightest idea that there is something wrong with this. I can't quite make up my mind about Duncan, he certainly is an intriguing character, but whether Marian's relationship with him is healthier than her relationship with Peter is open for interpretation.

I think I will keep thinking about this novel for a while. It is not straightforward and, while it is making certain points quite clearly, there is enough room for interpretation.
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
996 reviews1,132 followers
September 6, 2016
4 and a half star, rounded to 4.

Marriage, consumerism, misogyny, dark humour, clever (albeit not super subtle) symbolism. This was Margaret Atwood’s first published novel and if you have read any of her other work, you can immediately see how she sharpened her claws with “The Edible Woman”. The same motifs appear in her other books I have read (namely “The Handmaid’s Tale”, “The Blind Assassin”, “Cat’s Eye” and “The Robber Bride”), and I can now see where she planted the seeds that would grow into some of the most amazing books I’ve had the pleasure to read.

When Marian gets engaged to her boyfriend Peter, a funny thing happens: she begins to lose her appetite. For meat, at first, but eventually, for almost everything… A simple enough set up, at a crucial point in history: just before the Women’s Liberation movement really took off and started shaking up the established roles women had in society. This story takes place at a time where women had two options: dead-ends jobs, or getting married. But what if you don’t like either options? How do you subvert the norm to live the life you really want to lead? How do you get a sense of self when you are being defined by your marital status?

I have to say, I would never have thought that this was a first novel, but by the time she wrote this, Margaret Atwood had already won prizes for her poetry. This is written with a great deal of confidence and includes some very avant-guard elements that not every novice writer would have had the guts to put on paper (the visit to Clara and Joe’s house, for instance, had me in horrified stitches: I could not believe this was written in the 60’s!). I was also surprised with the lucidity with which Atwood described the excessively processed food items that were so popular in the 60’s: everything is canned and synthetic tasting. There are, of course, many food metaphors peppered throughout the book, illustrating the gluttony inherent to the characters’ lifestyle: they are all being consumed and consuming others in one way or another.

As usual, the beauty and strength of Atwood’s prose is enough to grab me, regardless of how annoying or unlikable her characters are. How does she do this thing, where she makes even the most despicable characters fascinating? Marian is a complete push-over: her roommate, her colleagues, her boyfriend, everyone tells her what to do and she never stands up for herself. She is lucid enough to know that this is going on but is completely clueless as to how she should go about breaking the cycle. This sudden issue with food quickly becomes a burden, but she doesn’t share her concerns about it with anyone, preferring to conceal her abnormal behaviour to her friends and fiancé.

The character of Ainsley, who manages to be progressive and yet oh-so-backwards simultaneously is a stroke of absolute genius on Atwood’s part; she made me laugh and roll my eyes through the whole book. And while Duncan is not necessarily a more promising match than Peter (both of them are manipulative jerks, but at least Duncan is very honest about that from the get-go, as where Peter assumes that the world needs to conform to his expectations), the fact that he doesn’t want Marian to change on his account is enough to understand how a relationship with him might feel liberating to someone who always did what everyone expected of her. I also loved his rant about getting caught up in the trap of academia: my husband recently put an end to a long academic career, and he had very similar thoughts about it. It’s funny to think nothing in that world seems to have changed in the past fifty years.

Some reviewers find this book dated: I simply don’t understand that given the setting of early 1960’s Toronto. Do these people also find “Mad Men” dated? Of course there are typewriters and gender relationships are a mess! I understand being angry with the way male characters treat the female characters: the constant implication that college education ruins them, the obvious expectation that they remain silent and demure and quit their jobs once they get married… It makes me want to puke too, trust me, but it’s also the way things were back then. If anything, Marian’s identity crisis is actually ahead of the curve, because, like her friend Clara, most women simply played the game and tried to make the best of it. Eating disorders were nowhere near as common then as they are now, and using one to illustrate the feeling of being consumed by a loveless marriage and unfulfilling life is both clever and thought-provoking.

This is a very funny and extremely readable little book, and I was pleasantly surprised with how relevant it’s social commentary still is. I will be looking at products on the grocery store’s shelves very differently for a while. Highly recommended, both to seasoned Atwood fans and curious newbies.
Profile Image for Azumi.
236 reviews167 followers
April 22, 2018
El porqué del título cuando lo ves reflejado en el libro es genial. Es un título magistral.
Retrata perfectamente el papel de la mujer en una generación que solo se esperaba de ellas que se casasen, tuviesen hijos y cuidasen de la casa quedando anuladas intelectualmente. La inutilidad de estudiar una carrera, de progresar en el trabajo ¿todo para qué? si al final no te va a servir de nada.
Contra todo esto empieza a rebelarse la protagonista y lo hace de una manera muy peculiar.

La parte final me ha gustado mucho y tiene mucha miga y mucho simbolismo.
El personaje de Duncan es el que menos he entendido de todos, me ha dejado muy descolocada, porque tiene momentos bastante odiosos. Peter es horrible, es todo lo que no desearías en un hombre.

Es uno de esos libros que te dejan pensando y pensando días despues de acabarlos y que a medida que pasan los días te va gustando más. Es una novela para leer con más gente y comentarla, por que se le puede sacar mucha sustancia.
Profile Image for Trudie.
526 reviews561 followers
June 4, 2019
trailing herself, like a many-plumed fish-lure with glass beads and three spinners and seventeen hooks, through the likely looking places, good restaurants and cocktail bars with their lush weed-beds of philodendrons, where the right kind of men might be expected to be lurking, ravenous as pike, though more maritally inclined. But those men, the right kind, weren't biting, or had left for other depths, or were snapping at a different sort of bait - some inconspicuous brown minnow or tarnished simple brass spoon, or something with even more hooks than Lucy could manage

Ah, Atwoodian perfection.
I don't have much more to say upon my second reading of this debut novel. It is not the best of hers but it is still an absolute delight to read.
Profile Image for Jason Pettus.
Author 18 books1,279 followers
November 14, 2021
Goodreads 2019 Summer Reading Challenge
10. New voices: Read a debut novel

THE GREAT COMPLETIST CHALLENGE: In which I revisit older authors and attempt to read every book they ever wrote

Currently‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌challenge:‌ ‌Isaac‌ ‌Asimov's‌ ‌Robot/Empire/Foundation‌ |‌ ‌Margaret‌ Atwood‌ |‌ ‌JG‌ ‌Ballard‌ |‌ Clive‌ ‌Barker‌ |‌ Christopher‌ Buckley‌ |‌ ‌Jim Butcher's Dresden Files | ‌Lee Child's Jack Reacher | ‌Philip‌ ‌K‌ ‌Dick‌ |‌ ‌Ian Fleming | William‌ ‌Gibson‌ |‌ ‌Michel‌ Houellebecq‌ |‌ John‌ ‌Irving‌ |‌ ‌Kazuo‌ ‌Ishiguro‌ |‌ Shirley‌ Jackson‌ | ‌John‌ ‌Le‌ ‌Carre‌ |‌ Bernard‌ ‌Malamud‌ |‌ Cormac McCarthy | China‌ ‌Mieville‌ |‌ Toni Morrison | ‌VS‌ Naipaul‌ |‌ Chuck‌ ‌Palahniuk‌ |‌ ‌Tim‌ ‌Powers‌ |‌ ‌Terry‌ ‌Pratchett's‌ ‌Discworld‌ |‌ Philip‌ ‌Roth‌ |‌ Neal‌ Stephenson‌ |‌ ‌Jim‌ ‌Thompson‌ |‌ John‌ ‌Updike‌ |‌ Kurt‌ ‌Vonnegut‌ |‌ Jeanette Winterson | PG‌ ‌Wodehouse‌

Easily the most interesting thing about the Great Completist Challenge I'm currently making my way through is when I get to read the debut novels of the people in my list, and to see whether they emerged fully formed right in their first book, turned in debuts that don't give even a clue of the mature and well-loved writers they would eventually become, or gave us a book that shows glimpses of the things they would eventually become famous for, with Margaret Atwood's The Edible Woman being a perfect example. Her first full-length fiction book after publishing several volumes of academic poetry (written in 1965 but not published until '69), it is strongly reminiscent in style and tone to Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar which at the time was at the height of its first wave of popularity, a fairly straightforward character-heavy dramedy about a young woman coming of age in the transitional cusp between the Mid-Century Modernist period and the Postmodernist one, and a look at the various cultural tides that pushed such women this way and that in those years, which at first sounds incongruous with the woman who would eventually become famous for her deliciously dark and subversive looks at the frayed edges of feminism, often through the filter of dystopian science-fiction and other fantastical genres.

A closer look, though, shows even here all the telltale signs of the mature Atwood the rest of the world would start getting to know a lot better in the '80s. For although this is a lightly plotted "literary" novel in which not much of note actually happens to our mousy hero Marian, Atwood conveys this not-much-happening in an unpretentious and assured voice, wittily throwing us into scenes of absurdist humor without any warning (such as when Marian gets drunk while out with her new fiance and their friends one night, and unobtrusively squeezes herself under their Murphy bed just to see whether she can go the rest of the evening without anyone noticing that she's missing), and taking the story in unexpected and slightly edgy directions that you wouldn't expect from an MFA poet in the 1960s (such as the ongoing, weirdly indefinable relationship Marian develops with a bizarre autistic graduate student who lives in her Toronto neighborhood, in which they meet up regularly at the local laundromat just to watch people's clothing spin, and who she treasures precisely because he's so utterly incapable of being empathetic towards her or giving the slightest care about her wants and needs). And of course there are the multiple symbolic references Atwood drops in throughout the manuscript to the book's title, from Marian's job at a marketing agency that conducts opinion polls about upcoming food ad campaigns, to the phobia about eating she slowly develops over the course of the plot, the voodoo-doll cake she feverishly makes of herself to serve as the book's climax, and the various ways the people around her try to "devour her soul" in order to support their own beliefs (from her cluelessly middle-class fiance to her radicalized women's-lib roommate, her exhausted housewife/mother friend, her fellow mousy single female acquaintances at work, her casually sexist womanizing old school friend who ends up getting her roommate pregnant, and more).

While reading this book, I loved looking at pictures of the twenty-something Atwood as she appeared when writing this novel, because it really drives home who exactly she was writing this book for, and what kind of position these people found themselves in during this time; a whole generation of young woman caught between the girdle-wearing Doris Day submission of Mid-Century Modernism, and the bra-burning Gloria Steinem empowerment of Postmodernism, a bit tired of the former but a bit scared of the latter, wrestling with these issues while also dealing with the universal youth questions of who they are, what they want, and where they're going. (For those who don't know, this book intersects with Atwood's real life from those years in telling ways -- much like Marian's ill-fated fiance, Atwood's fiance was a dashing amateur photographer who she would divorce a mere five years after marrying; Atwood worked at the time at a survey questionnaire agency very similar to Marian's; and Marian's radicalized roommate Ainsley was named after the all-female Annesley Hall dorm where Atwood lived as an undergraduate during the slowly Woke-ing early '60s.) Ultimately I found myself incredibly charmed by our put-upon hero and rooting strongly for her to finally find some happiness and self-assuredness in her life; and I suspect this is why a certain type of reader started so intensely reacting to Atwood's prose projects even here at the very beginning, because the world was filled with Marians in the late 1960s, and hardly anyone was writing stories directed expressly to them.

It's in this spirit that I recommend the book to others -- maybe not for casual fans who just want to read the best books of Atwood's career (for that you should skip straight to 1985's The Handmaid's Tale, then work your way forward from there), but rather for hardcore fans who want to see where it all started, when Atwood was just another anonymous and largely unknown young woman like all the others, crying out into the wilderness about the trials and tribulations of the burgeoning countercultural age. It's books like these where she started gathering her tribe of like-minded young modern women for the first time, who loved her so much that they would end up sticking by her for another entire half a century.

P.S. After reading other people's reviews, it's worth taking the time to jump back on here for two additional observations: first, that much like The Handmaid's Tale (written exactly 20 years after this manuscript), one of Atwood's main points here is that society tends to see young women as incapable of contributing anything else worthwhile to the world other than their ability to be baby-making factories, a direct thematic line you can draw between this book and that one, only expressed in very different ways; and second, yes, certainly you can categorize Marian's grad-school friend-lover-thingie Duncan as the literary world's first and still so far one of its only "manic pixie dream boys."

Margaret Atwood books being reviewed for this series: The Edible Woman (1969) | Surfacing (1972) | Lady Oracle (1976) | Life Before Man (1979) | Bodily Harm (1981) | The Handmaid's Tale (1985) | Cat's Eye (1988) | The Robber Bride (1993) | Alias Grace (1996) | The Blind Assassin (2000) | Oryx and Cake (2003) | The Penelopiad (2005) | The Year of the Flood (2009) | MaddAddam (2013) | The Heart Goes Last (2015) | Hag-Seed (2016) | The Testaments (2019)
Profile Image for Robert.
1,999 reviews195 followers
February 2, 2021
Back in 2019, I promised that I would read all of Margaret Atwood’s 17 novels, with the short story collections the following year. After all the year before I managed to read all 12 of Jonathan Coe’s novels (yes I know there’s a new one, it’s on the TBR stack). Dutifully I purchased all her novels and then other books got in the way and this project was dropped. Weirdly in that same year I read her second novel, Surfacing, for the IRL bookclub I co-run. Now we’re on the right track and the project has started. Expect to see many more Atwood novels in the future.

The Edible Woman is Atwood’s debut published in 1969 and it is a strong one. In her forward she states that it is a proto-feminist novel as certain feminist concepts did not really find their way to Canada until much later. However after reading the novel, I was struck by a revlation but I will get to that in a bit.

Marian works for a company that creates surveys for products, lives with an impulsive flatmate Ainsley and dreams of her upcoming marriage to Peter. However two events change her life; one is a chance meeting with an old classmate, Len Slank and the other is another chance meeting, this time with a uni student called Duncan. When Marian introduces Peter to Len, Peter just ignores Marian for the whole evening and discusses cameras with Len. At this point she begins to wonder if she is merely an accessory for Peter : someone he can own. Throughout the novel Len then forms part of the Ainsley subplot.

When she meets Duncan, she falls in love with him but he treats her like an accessory as well as he just wants to sleep with her. The main difference between him and Peter is that the former is blatant about the fact that he is using Marian.

As the marriage looms closer Marian starts to hate food and imagines them coming alive. She also starts to feel helpless. Her relationship with Duncan is a temporary and she knows that, Ainsley is caught up with her plan to become a mother and her dislike for Peter is increasing. The ultimate question is if Marian will accept herself and take control of her future.

The Edible Woman, for an Atwood novel, is quite interesting. The characters are fully realised, something that she has always been consistent with. It’s quite funny in places, the dinner party at Duncan’s place is brilliant, so is the Marriage party. Then there’s the symbolic ending, which I will guarantee will stick in the mind for a long time. It’s also worth noting that one character delivers a spiel about how nature will take over mankind, this is a topic that is explored slightly in her next novel, Surfacing and deeply in 2003’s Oryx and Crake.

I said earlier that I came to a revelation and that is: Sally Rooney’s Normal People is basically an Edible Woman rewrite. Both books consist of people looking deeply at their relationships. Both have characters questioning their normality within society and also both books have a main protagonist who has difficulty fitting in with norms and wants to break free. Yes The Edible Woman has a more feminist slant but one can clearly see her influence in Normal People. Which also means the term millennial fiction is a load of codswallop. Anyone agree me with here.
Profile Image for Josephine (Jo).
618 reviews43 followers
September 4, 2018
This observation of relationships between women and men and the pressure cooker atmosphere that builds up as Marian starts to feel trapped. At the beginning of the book Marian is working as a compiler of door to door questionnaires and one weekend she has to go out herself and test the particular questionnaire on beer. On her long slog in the cold and wet she comes across the undergraduate student Duncan who lives with two house mates Trevor and Fischer Smythe (Fish), these three are the oddest trio one could wish to meet.

Marian’s friend Clara, married to Joe is doing her best to be an ‘earth mother’ with the arrival of her third child and two others still in nappies! The eldest little boy is almost feral. Clara seems to have receded into herself as her fate is sealed, she has given up the chance to study and has ‘settled’ for the only other option and therefore must be happy!

Marian also has a flatmate, Ainsley who is far from the blue eyed innocent that she would at first appear to be. Miss Atwood paints such a clear picture of the different characters that the reader feels that they know them. I pictured Ainsley as a modern 60’s woman with short skirt, bright colours and far less inhibitions than her flatmate. Marian in my mind’s eye was far more conservative not quite so fashionable and much more aware of being proper. I remember well that once a young woman reached the age of twenty one people would start to ask when they were thinking of ‘settling down’ had they found themselves ‘a nice young man’? Of course this meant giving up work and having a baby within the year and then, ‘when are you going to give him or her a little brother or sister’?

Peter seemed to be Marian’s answer to the age old question and she would be ‘looked after’, have a nice home i.e. give up her independence and stay at home and care for the children. Or she could be an old maid! I disliked Peter right from the start, his attitude of being in charge, not liking Marian to make any decision that he did not agree with. Later on he was quite angry when not in control and this gave a preview of what married life with him would be like.

The funniest part of the book by far for me was the dinner that Marian was invited to by Duncan, Trevor and Fish! It reminded me of the Mad Hatter’s tea party.

Marian has an old friend called Len and his predilection for young innocent ladies backfires when he comes up against the cunning of Ainsley!

The fact that Marian finds it harder and harder to eat as the story unfolds seems as if the only way she can make her subconscious feelings known her body is rebelling.

A story so evocative of the time and with a cast of diverse and often strange characters!
Profile Image for Tudor Vlad.
327 reviews73 followers
April 7, 2017
On to my quest to read more Margaret Atwood, I hit my first obstacle. I can’t say it was a bad book, I enjoyed the character but I did not enjoy the story. Why? Because there wasn’t much of it. Instead, this book was a commentary about femininity. I could call it a feminist novel but as Margaret herself says in the foreword of this book she wrote it before the movement even started. It’s sad how much of what the character of this book has to deal with in the book is still just as relevant and understandable today. On the whole this wasn’t the best of Margaret's. It is her first book, and I could see so much of future Margaret in it.
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