Starre's Reviews > The Edible Woman

The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood
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's review
Apr 10, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: gets-you-thinking
Read in April, 2012 , read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** I haven't read Atwood in some years now, but the memory of reading Alias Grace and being impressed by the evocative yet gritty language is still vivid.

Although some elements of this book are by necessity dated (having to leave one's job upon getting married, for example), some parts of it are as relevant today as they must have been when it was first published. Marian's struggle with her relationship to food and also to herself, her life, and her romantic attachments, surely rings true for women in 2012 as much now as it would in times past.

Marian is our only viewpoint character, and as such the book has a delightfully claustrophobic feel, immersing us as it does in Marian's thought processes as she slowly loses control of herself. The switch to third person narration is very effective in showing Marian's increasing detachment from her own life. As I read it I could imagine her narrating her own life as she went about it, observing herself as she would observe an insect that was struggling for life.

The characters are all vivid in their own ways. By the end I felt as if I'd met them all! Duncan in particular was a strange, fey character, disturbed and compelling and, I suspect, unforgettable. Marian herself seemed to know her own mind even while losing her grip and feeling suffocated by her impending marriage. She seemed to me to be relatively opinionated and stubborn, and capable, beneath the hysterics, as if all of that had gotten buried under her conformity and was seeping out in her disordered attitude to eating.

The language was elegant, with not a word out of place, very fitting to the time and culture when women were expected to be neat and presentable with nary a hair out of place at all times. Some of the descriptions had a visceral quality that bordered on the stomach churning - very apt, and a wonderful way of bringing us right into what Marian was feeling as she struggled with food.

The final few pages were especially gripping; Marian's way of taking back control a rather novel and compelling one. It left me thinking - I am still thinking about it!

Highly recommended.

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