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Lady Oracle

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3.67  ·  Rating details ·  9,205 Ratings  ·  483 Reviews
'I planned my death carefully; unlike my life, which meandered along from one thing to another, despite my feeble attempts to control it ... At first I thought I'd managed it.'

From fat girl to thin, from red hair to mud brown, from London to Toronto, from Polish count to radical husband - Joan Foster is utterly confused by her life of multiple identities. She decides to es
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Paperback, 345 pages
Published 1982 by Virago (first published 1976)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Megan
Aug 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sickly funny, in a way that's typically attributed only to men. The book begins with the narrator's (a writer of Harlequin romances) own faked death and becomes, finally, a woman writer enjoying her woman-ness, fat jokes and all. You could talk to this book over coffee about things that matter in your life, and it wouldn't start crying and gushing about Oprah. Plus it's got a delicious title. I can't believe it is a second novel.
Katie
Sep 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who read for the language of the book, not necessarily for plot
I am a big Margaret Atwood fan, mainly for her writing. Her books don't always have a lot of plot and sometimes I find her endings too pat, but I still devour her books for the language. Lady Oracle has one of my favorite beginnings to a book:

"I planned my death carefully; unlike my life, which meandered along from one thing to another, despite my feeble attempts to control it. My life had a tendency to spread, get flabby, to scroll and festoon life the frame of a baroque mirror, which came from
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Catherine
This book really pissed me off. I guess there's no real character arc. The main character starts out weak, unself-aware and just really messed up (for plenty of good reason, so I did sympathize with her) -- but nothing has really changed by the end of the book. She's still messed up and unself-aware. Ugh. The whole book made me feel really impatient and uncomfortable. I felt kind of sick and nervous the whole time I was reading it, as if doom was just around the corner. That probably says a lot ...more
Linda Aull
Sep 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those that want to escape.
This is one of those books that makes you feel kind of intellectual, but doesn't take any effort at all to slip into. Who can't relate to wanting to escape the life that you've built, or let happen, around you, at least from time to time? Atwood is such an accomplished writer that the themes are almost secondary to her skill with the language. A pure pleasure to read.
Ash
Jun 08, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, mystery
This is my favourite of Atwood's books, probably because in some ways it's the silliest. Joan Foster is melodramatic and hapless, but entirely loveable. Plus, there's a mystery! And a fake death! And a secret life in a foreign villa! It's kind of like reading a romance novel, only a lot more with the intentional funny.
Carla
Ligeiro, ligeirinho, demasiado para o meu gosto.
Jamie
May 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Atwood fans, lovers of the gothic
Recommended to Jamie by: my thesis advisor
Shelves: thesis
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lissa
Sep 26, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Margaret Atwood and she can do (almost) no wrong, so it's probably not shocking that I really liked this book. After all, I have read (in order): The Handmaid's Tale (multiple times), Cat's Eye, Robber Bride (I should go back and re-read these as it's been a long time) The Blind Assassin, Alias Grace and The Penelopiad.

Lady Oracle treads over some of what most readers of Margaret Atwood will realize is familiar ground. The premise of the book is that Joan Foster, a woman who for all appea
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Pam Bustin
Shit. I’d danced right through the broken glass, in my bare feet too. Some butterfly. I limped into the main room, trailing bloody footprints and looking for a towel. I washed my feet in the bathtub, the soles looked as if they’d been minced. The real red shoes, the feet punished for dancing. You could dance, or you could have the love of a good man. But you were afraid to dance, because you had this unnatural fear that if you danced they’d cut your feet off so you wouldn’t be able to dance. Fi
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Hermien
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
What a reading pleasure. I love the way Atwood weaves a story within a story and takes you on an enjoyable fantasy journey.
Sara
May 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-classics
Joan Foster is not dead, but she has contrived to make everyone believe that she is, so that she can escape the complications of her marriage and life. It is Atwood in a flippant and comical mood, with a great deal of fun but not as much substance as you generally expect of her.

If you have ever wanted to disappear and start over, have no one know anything about you, and do it all right the next time around, you will understand Joan. She has had an unusual childhood, with an oppressive mother an
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Sarah
Apr 27, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Joan Foster is a confused character that drifts through life, living multiple identities and struggling to keep them separate. The novel begins with Joan reflecting on her life as she makes plans for the future.

Joan's childhood is a miserable one. She struggles with friendships, suffers with self-hatred and escapes into a fantasy world where she is accepted and revered. Joan's mother is a neurotic, disappointed, angry woman who is unhappy in her life and in Joan. Atwood writes with a quirky, wit
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Kristina
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readathon16
Δεν έχω διαβάσει τίποτα άλλο δικό της και στο οπισθόφυλλο γράφουν "One of the most important writers in English today",όμως σίγουρα δεν μιλάνε για αυτό το βιβλίο. It was ok γιατί σε σημεία χαχάνισα.
(Συγγνώμη Θάλεια)
Lisa
Atwood has just released MaddAddam, the third novel in the dystopian trilogy that began with Oryx and Crake, but I'm not likely to read it. I did read the first one, back in 2003, but I'm not very interested in dystopian and speculative fiction so I'm hoping that now that the trilogy is out of the way, she'll revert to writing sparkling novels about the real world.

In the mean time, however, I've still got a few of her books to read on my TBR, one of which is Lady Oracle. I'd forgotten that I had
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Ree
Sep 11, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone interested in jouissance
I read lady oracle to complete my lit degree. Well, this one is nice storytelling with metafiction and some fantasies. Atwood always build her character with her alienation towards her surrounding, to let her character find her own identity.

This character, Joan Foster is built to overcome her problem of writing Gothic Romance, which seems very non-intellectual works compared to her husband's, Arthur, an activist who likes to stamp footnotes in his politic books.

Joan is only able to write escapi
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Cheri
Apr 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
I very much enjoyed this book. It's dark and morbid, emotional and... yes, even a little creepy. I'm honestly not sure, in the end, how to think about it. The faked death (not a spoiler, it's announced in the first line) and all that leads up to it is fascinating and, to me, very tragic. I identified strongly with narrator's body image issues - and how that entangled every emotion she had.

Joan is one of the more interesting main characters I've read in awhile. She's smart yet doesn't trust her
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Rea
Apr 04, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I love M. Atwood, but this book...I still can't believe she wrote it.

In most cases Atwood's themes revolve around women in some form or another. For the first time I felt myself becoming so frustrated with the female protagonist. I wanted to slap her and tell her to (ironically) grow some balls and stop feeling sorry for herself; there are people who have worst problems! She was weak and doubtful for superficial reasons and I couldn't believe Atwood would resort to using weight a major reason fo
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Amy Geriak
Aug 13, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Atwood's books are all a bit quirky, strange, difficult -- not your typical novels to pick up and enjoy an escape. They all can be quite dark, searching, haunting, etc. Of all of her books, this was my favorite, second to Handmaid's Tale.
Jessica
May 28, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I didn't enjoy "Lady Oracle" as much as I had enjoyed other Atwood novels that I've read. Atwood is one of my favorite writers so I still found this a worthwile read. The book is populated by smart, funny, and deep characters. The ending was a bit of a disappointment.
Rafa
May 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Además de sentirme muy cómodo leyéndola, expone con acierto la cantidad de imágenes que necesita crear una mujer para sobrevivir en esta sociedad patriarcal.
Geetanjali Shrivastava
I enjoyed this one for it's outrageous take-off on the gothic form, and its moments of dark humour!

My review http://literarymosaic.blogspot.com/20...
Nisha Panchal
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I need to read it again.

As someone myself who has a complicated relationship with my weight, much of what Joan's character thinks and does in her youth rings very true.

The wedding scene was quite possibly the best thing I'd ever read in my life. Each of the characters were so rich and with their own motivations and they all just came together to make this scene just amazing. I felt as dizzy as Joan and Arthur must have felt.

The Royal Porcupine was another great character, both as himse
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Amber Tucker
Dec 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
there are two kinds of readers: those who adore margaret atwood and those who haven't finished anything she's written. i'm kidding, of course; i can objectively understand why some don't enjoy her style – i'm in the former camp, and at this point i've loved enough of her books and other work that i may not be critical enough anymore. but most everything else feels so lacklustre in comparison that, like joan sneaking off to be with the royal porcupine, i can't care if it's wrong.

joan foster's na
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Craig
Nov 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
LADY ORACLE never fails to twist, to defy the reader's expectation: straightforward woman-in-midlife-crisis story, Gothic Romance, modern supernatural tale...and that is what I love, that Atwood gives the reader not what they want, but what they need to get a deep understanding of her characters.

The main character, Joan, is trying to reinvent herself and, by reinventing herself, to escape a past filled with bullying. It would be expected to find the bullies as classmates, which we do get, but Jo
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ઈia7asĦ
بانوی پیشگو
مارگارت اتوود
سهیل سمی

اولین داستانی بود که از آتوود میخوندم بنظرم شروع خوبی داشت که تا آخر ادامه پیدا نکرد ولی کتاب خوبی بود.
جون فاستر تنها راه تحمل تحقیرهای مادر و آزار دیگران و غلبه به حس اضطراب و تنهاییش رو در خوردن میبینه همونطور که خودش میگه, خودش رو توی یه هیکل چاق دفن میکنه برای دیده نشدن
تجربه ازدواج و علاقه مند شدنش هم بیشتر مثل فرار از خودشه تا دوست داشتن واقعی یکنفر.
تا جایی که تصمیم میگیره یه زندگی جدید رو شروع کنه.
کاری کنه که همه فکر کنن مُرده اما آخر داستان باز هم نشون می
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Allan
Feb 19, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Allan by: Book Club
After reading this book, I feel like I have to re-read it again. The story is reavealed to to the reader in such a way that you might not exactly know what's going on until chapters later. Throughout the book, you feel as if something underlying is going on. And at the end, you just want to psychoanalyze the main character.
Я.
Apr 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Similar to The Blind Assassin structurally and reminiscent of Cat's Eye in its depiction of childhood.
Kate
Jul 27, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-currently
Charming, hilarious fun (though this might be one of the more pointedly anti-American ones, which bugs me).
Jim
May 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What would make someone fake their own death? Obviously the events in the hours, days and weeks beforehand need to be considered—no one just decides one day to opt out of their life—but we’re cumulative creatures, gradually modifying ourselves and every decision we make factors in every decision we’ve ever made. This being the case, after introducing the book’s protagonist, Joan Foster (who would probably be happy to be called the heroine), Atwood dives right back to Joan’s childhood and, apart ...more
Jessica
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this for the first time in 1997/98 & it's a fabulous book. The ending is a bit abrupt, but it doesn't take away from the otherwise marvelous experience of the story.
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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
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More about Margaret Atwood...

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“How could I be sleeping with this particular man.... Surely only true love could justify my lack of taste.” 397 likes
“I planned my death carefully, unlike my life, which meandered along from one thing to another, despite my feeble attempts to control it.” 70 likes
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