Lauren's Reviews > Lady Oracle

Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood
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Nov 03, 2009

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Read in November, 2009

Having only previously read The Handmaid's Tale (and having been really impressed by that experience), I had high expectations. This book only partly delivered. It took me quite a few chapters to find the narrator empathetic - or even interesting beyond her surface quirks. In fact, her surface quirks and eccentricities disoriented me for quite a while. What kept me reading was my faith that Margaret Atwood had to know what she was doing, right?
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the long trip through the flashbacks to the narrator's childhood, adolescence, and development, since I don't always much like that device in novels. Especially when, like here, the "flashbacks" are really the bulk of the storytelling. But that ends up being a saving grace here, since in my opinion, the flashbacks are the most compelling and emotionally realistic component of the book. (I also came away from the novel, oddly, with a little bit less admiration for Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone, which I had thought was an unprecedented incision into the mindset of an overweight, lonely, un-self-confident young girl. Now I see that he clearly read Lady Oracle and even borrowed a fair amount from it. I'm still impressed with his ability to credibly cross gender lines for a first-person narrator, though.)
I was ultimately unsatisfied by the symbolism/characterization work Atwood tries to achieve through the narrator's novel-writing, as "re-printed" throughout the narrative. I found myself rolling my eyes and bearing down ("here we go again") whenever I came across a page of italicized text, which indicates the device. I felt like these passages were too long, rote, and ... boring.
Maybe my review, though, is more reflective of the fact that I prefer to read (and write) young-adult type stories... that's the part I liked the best. Go figure.
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11/14/2009 page 193
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