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Cat's Eye

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3.93  ·  Rating details ·  48,567 Ratings  ·  2,757 Reviews
Returning to the city of her youth for a retrospective of her art, controversial painter Elaine Risley is engulfed by vivid images of the past. Strongest of all is the figure of Cordelia, leader of the trio of girls who initiated her into the fierce politics of childhood and its secret world of friendship, longing, and betrayal. Elaine must come to terms with her own ident ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 445 pages
Published December 1989 by Bantam Books (first published 1988)
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Julie The term comes from something that actual bulls do to each other if too many are kept in too small a space, such as in large scale animal farming…moreThe term comes from something that actual bulls do to each other if too many are kept in too small a space, such as in large scale animal farming operations. They will gang up on the weakest bull and (by ways I will not describe here) eventually kill him. This phenomenon is explained in detail in Temple Grandin's (non-fiction) book "Animals Make Us Human," and probably also in her "Humane Livestock Handling" which last one I have not read. (less)
Ravi lobo I can understand your question, since I’m struggling through this one too. I’m reading it since 3 months; I have 100 pages to go. The story moves very…moreI can understand your question, since I’m struggling through this one too. I’m reading it since 3 months; I have 100 pages to go. The story moves very very slowly—I’m okay with this though. The bullying part—which is the main theme is very subtle. At some point you get confused about who’s bullying who. I might find an answer at the end. I want to read this book again in a few years.

Attwood writes regular fiction, and sci-fi. Cat’s Eye belongs to the former category. The Robber Bride—another similar book by Miss. Attwood is more enduring and little fast paced.

Having said that, this is certainly not a bad book. This is probably not your kind of book. I read few pages now and then, and then read something else. This is easier, since, with Cat’s Eye you need to pay attention to only 2 characters: the narrator and Cordelia. So no character confusion. I finished, couple of books, that I started after Cat’s Eye. The book is like acquired taste; it takes time to get a hang of it. If you don’t like it now, come back to in a few years. You probably march to a different drummer, which is not bad.

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karen
i know for a fact that books were written and published after this one, but i can't for the life of me understand why.

come to my blog!
Lisa
"This is the middle of my life, I think of it as a place, like the middle of a river, the middle of a bridge, halfway across, halfway over. I'm supposed to have accumulated things by now: possessions, responsibilities, achievements, experience and wisdom. I'm supposed to be a person of substance."

The scary thing is that you stay a child inside that accumulation of life. You take your childhood with you when you enter the grown-up world, and as much as you try to pretend that you are free and li
...more
Samadrita
I look at the progression of 5-star ratings by friends - mostly women - and wonder if it is a womanly weakness to rate a book 5 stars which deconstructs the world from the female perspective? Is this visceral urge something to be ashamed of, something you must suppress to show due deference to 'standards' of literary appraisal?

But then why don't I feel conflicted enough while handing out my 5 stars to those modern masterpieces written mostly by dead, white men? All those narrative voices that b
...more
Michael
Jun 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, favorites
One of Atwood's more famous works of fiction, Cat's Eye is at once a meditation on the sorrows and comforts accompanying age as well as a coming-of-age story about a tumultuous and abusive bond between two young girls. The novel juxtaposes past and present against each other, via twin narratives about the protagonist's childhood and adulthood. The latter plot follows artist Elaine Risley as she returns to bustling Toronto, the city of her desolate youth, for a retrospective of her work, while th ...more
İntellecta
Aug 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"Katzenauge" is one of the many novels of the well-known Canadian author Margaret Atwood.
It is the story of two women and their friendship; a friendship that became hostility - a story about childhood, about growing up.

The style of writing is gripping, almost enthralling, so that the reader feels so close to reading so the impression arises that the narrative contains biographical features.
Cecily
What it's about

"We are survivors of each other. We have been shark to one another, but also lifeboat. That counts for something."

The power of abusive friendships and relationships is the theme of this book, though not all the relationships are tainted, so it's not depressing and at times it's quite amusing (e.g. discerning the mysteries of puberty).

There is also a fair bit about art and artists, with a dash of early feminism.

Plot structure

Elaine is an artist in her late fifties/early sixties
...more
BlackOxford
Pity-wanting Pain

Reading Cat's Eye is like watching a film, only with smells, and taste, and touch in addition to cinematic sight and sound. Its heroine, Elaine, has all these 'outward wits' which Atwood captures magnificently. But, although Elaine is an artist, she has almost nothing of the 'inward wits' of communal sense, imagination, fantasy, estimation or memory.

The story is three dimensional: the North/South dimension of her life with her parents who migrate every year from Toronto to the L
...more
James
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a relative latecomer to the works of Margaret Atwood (this was my fourth book in) – she continues to impress and engage immensely.

‘Cat’s Eye’ has, like ‘The Blind Assassin’ (which it predates by around a decade) memory and memories as its central narrative device. Both novels have a central protagonist nearer to the end of their days than to the start – looking back and confronting the memories from various periods in their earlier lives. Ostensibly, that is as far as any similarity goes – be
...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Margie!

It's a little tough-going to talk about this book, because the description makes it sound so Ya-Ya Sisterhood chick-lit. Girl/girl friendships, coming of age, an assembly-line presentation of messy sexual relationships, dadurdydurr. It's sad that a simple outline of the plot could potentially close off 50% (or more) of the population's interest in reading this book, because unlike her speculative fiction, this is less a plot-driven novel reveling in world-building, and more of a parade of
...more
Glenn Sumi
The annual Santa Claus Parade trotted and pranced through downtown Toronto a couple of Sundays ago, and while it was going on I thought of Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye.

Although I read the book – considered a highlight of Atwood’s middle period – more than two months ago, the image of protagonist Elaine and her frenemies watching the parade from her entomologist-father’s office at the University of Toronto stuck with me. While passing the big boulevard of University Avenue, I even looked up at a c
...more
Jessica
May 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2007
"Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise."

Simply put, I worship this book.

Cat’s Eye follows the controversial painter Elaine as she reflects upon her childhood and younger years when she returns to Toronto (the city of her youth) for a retrospective of her works. Her reflections stir up memories of friendship, longing, betrayal, love, hate, and pain. Especially haunting are her memories of Cordelia, a childhood friend with whom she had a co
...more
Jan-Maat
Not a re-read. Instead I was walking home, today. The air was warm, muggy. Generally I try and concentrate on my feet. This, I say to myself, this is the moment that I am alive. Mind though has a tendency to go were it will. So instead I remembered this book, which does from time to time nag at me on the edges of my conscious mind, and thought the following.

A fine late twentieth century example of the Bildungsroman, thoroughly Wordsworthian - the child is the Father of the Man (view spoiler)
...more
Debbie "DJ"
Jul 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
Nearly impossible to write a review for such a masterful work as this. All I can do is write some of my thoughts while reading this. It's like a psychological character study. It's the feelings that are evoked. Everything is full of descriptions, the meaning belongs to the reader. Atwood brings me to the brink, then pulls back leaving me with a sense of uneasiness. Our lives can only be interpreted by us. Which of my own memories have been blocked, or purposely left unremembered only to surface ...more
Hugh
We have just started reading another historic Booker shortlist in The Mookse and the Gripes group. This time the year is 1989, and although The Remains of the Day is one of my favourite Booker winners, this one must have come pretty close.

The narrator is Elaine, an artist who has returned from a new life in Vancouver to Toronto, the city where she spent most of her formative years, to attend and supervise a career retrospective exhibition.

Each of the book's sections begins with a short introduct
...more
Phrynne
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoy Margaret Atwood' s books and this is not an exception. In fact this one is quite amazingly interesting. It revolves around the memories of the main character, Elaine who recalls her friendships as a young girl. It becomes apparent that she was bullied quite severely by her young friends and one of them in particular. As the story progresses we find that in the end Elaine escapes from the bullying and eventually even turns the tables. The bullied becomes the bully. It is a sad stor ...more
Tracey
Another magnificent read for me from one of my new favorite authors Margaret Atwood. She writes in the way I love, with beautiful sentences and paragraphs, filled with metaphors and similes and wonderful descriptions of the landscape and excellent character development, I really loved Elaine our protagonist as a child, I felt protective towards her when maybe she wasn't being protected enough...The adult Elaine due to events from childhood is a damaged/flawed character who looks back on her life ...more
Dannii Elle
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actual rating 4.5/5 stars.

When renowned and controversial painter, Elaine Risley, returns to her home-town of Toronto it sparks in her a confrontation of her buried past. Dark childhood secrets resurface and the Risley everyone believes they know is actually as fractured as the truth hidden inside her creations.

This was an interesting chronicle of one woman's life. I adored how the reader is introduced to Risley in her present, older self, before we are invited to return to her childhood and exp
...more
Chrissie
When I was considering whether to read this or not, what flashed through my head was, “Do you really want to read a book about bullying?” I knew this was the book’s central theme. I thought, “What can I learn from this?” I knew, even before picking up the book, how despicable such behavior is. I knew where I stood, so I wondered what more could be learned.

By reading this book one experiences on an emotional level the cruelty and the fear and anguish bullying inflicts on another. The experience b
...more
Oriana
There is still a wide-eyed teenager living inside me, and this book makes my melty twee little heart break and sing in equal measure. When I was 16 and read it for the first time, that was as close to a transcendental experience as I've ever had. Since then, I have re-read it roughly twenty thousand times, always whenever I need to just submerge myself in drenching beauty and angst.
Mariel
Sep 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: barbarism begins at home
Recommended to Mariel by: doll house
Cordelia: Hey! You think I'm never lonely because I'm so cute and popular? I can be surrounded by people and be completely alone. It's not like any of them really know me. I don't even know if they like me half the time. People just want to be in a popular zone. Sometimes when I talk, everyone's so busy agreeing with me, they don't hear a word I say.
Buffy: Well, if you feel so alone, then why do you work so hard at being popular?
Cordelia: Well, it beats being alone all by yourself.
(from Buffy th
...more
Maxwell
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've yet to be disappointed by any of Margaret Atwood's stories. She has such a keen sense of the human experience, a strong skill of observation, and she comments so wonderfully on these insights that I am moved and troubled in reading her works. She forces me to think about my individual experience as well as its reflection in light of our connected humanity.

Cat's Eye follows Elaine Risley, an elderly woman, famous for her controversial paintings, as she prepares for a retrospective show of he
...more
Miss Ravi
Apr 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
حالا که دومین کتاب از مارگارت اتوود را خواندهام،
گمان میکنم که او خوانندهاش را ناامید نمیکند. توصیفهایش زنده است و جاندار و تصویرهایش ملموس و تازه.
چشم گربه از جنبه داستان و تکنیک به اندازه آدمکش کور معرکه نیست اما کشش یک کتاب خوب را دارد و من یکی را پشیمان نکرده. حجم زیادی از داستان فلشبکهای طولانی است و مروری باحوصله بر تمام زندگی راوی اما در این میان خواننده تنها به دنبال نقطه پایان و برگشت به زمان حال نیست. او میتواند مثل مسافر یک قطار بنشیند و دنیایی که اتوود ساخته را آهسته آهسته تماشا کند.
...more
Maciek
So what do you do when you're a girl and you have this peculiar friend, who is also your worst abuser, but for some reason you hang out with her, go to the same school and all that jazz? Why, you become a controversial painter, get involved with some creepy men, and then sort of go on from there. Good thing your brother is a semi-genius fascinated with spacetime and all its promises, and your dad is this entomologist who travels all over the country with his family. We don't want things to be to ...more
Maria
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elaine, a painter, returns to her childhood city of Toronto to participate in an exhibition in her honor. There, she is flooded by childhood memories, especially of her childhood friend and tormentor, Cordelia. This is a book about bullying, and how it can affect your whole life.

The novel changes between short descriptions of Elaines present visit to Toronto, and longer passages of childhood memories. The childhood memories starts with Elaine travelling around with her parents and big brother,
...more
Chris Dietzel
Mar 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Until now, Surfacing was my favorite non-dystopian book by Atwood. Cat's Eye now claims that spot. There were parts of this that were so honest and awkward in their depiction of children being cruel to each other that it was uncomfortable to read. Atwood does an amazing job of providing a main character who is not necessarily an unreliable narrator but who is definitely an unaware narrator. And yet the author finds ways to convey subtle ideas of just how unaware that narrator is without ruining ...more
Beverly
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Her greatest story, about childhood bullying amid seemingly innocent play and the dire consequences, also has wonderful things to say about siblings-a brother and a sister's relationship and marriage.
Alex
I hate to be the guy who ruins the joke, but it's impossible to seriously judge Canadian literature without acknowledging that Canada is not a real place. It's a funny little conceit, but it's stretching plausibility a bit far to pretend that there's some enormous country right on top of the United States where gay marriage is legal* and we totally never invade it at all.

It's not a country, okay? It's just some dude in Minnesota with a big back yard.

Glad we got that out of the way.

Anyway, but t
...more
Agreenhouse
This book has been on my must-read list for a long time, so I was very excited to finally get my hands on a copy. Unfortunately, as much as I tried, I did not love this book. The language was absolutely stunning, with scenes rendered with such poetic language and detail that I felt I was in the scene. The problem was that the scenes Atwood described were so miserable, I did not want to be there. I have never been to Toronto, and after reading this book, I never want to go. I can't imagine a more ...more
Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*


DBR, you say?? OKAY!!!

With full disclosure I have to admit this is not actually my first DBR, it comes in after both Ryker's Burden Kansas and Cohen's Beautiful Losers. Something about books I love apparently makes booziness happen, hmmmmmm....

There are times that I am loath to tell people where I'm from, not because I don't like it, I do!! Canada is a truly lovely place to live and I have been blessed with a life of much happiness here, it's because when I say I'm from Canada I always get that
...more
Reckoner
Η Ελέην Ρίνσλευ επιστρέφει στο Τορόντο για την ρετροσπεκτίβα που έχει διοργανωθεί για χάρη της, ουσα μια εκκεντρική και δημοφιλής ζωγράφος. Και ξεκινάει μια οδυνηρή και αγωνιώδης καταβύθιση στο παρελθόν της ηρωίδας. Μη σας ξεγελάει το απόμακρο ύφος της Άτγουντ, η ειρωνεία και ο κυνισμός ενίοτε. Όλα αυτά είναι η επιφάνεια. Οι λεπτομερέστατες περιγραφές προσώπων, τόπων, στιγμών, ονείρων, σχέσεων,αντικειμένων, εντυπώσεων επιστρέφουν με χειμαρρώδη τρόπο στην μνήμη της και επαναλαμβάνονται ως leitmot ...more
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Play Book Tag: Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood - 5 stars 11 25 Jun 19, 2018 03:06PM  
The Mookse and th...: 1989 Shortlist: Cat's Eye 6 26 May 21, 2018 12:44AM  
Critical to feminism? 12 144 Mar 08, 2018 01:50PM  
Was Grace really the one behind it all? 3 64 Mar 08, 2018 04:57AM  
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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

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“Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.” 2399 likes
“Love blurs your vision; but after it recedes, you can see more clearly than ever. It's like the tide going out, revealing whatever's been thrown away and sunk: broken bottles, old gloves, rusting pop cans, nibbled fishbodies, bones. This is the kind of thing you see if you sit in the darkness with open eyes, not knowing the future.” 2086 likes
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