Tag Archives: Margaret Atwood

The Penelopiad

The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood, Waterstones, Book, CanongateThe Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

Canongate: paperback published 2006: 196 pages

Murder comes back to haunt you

For Penelope, wife of Odysseus, running a kingdom while her husband is off fighting the Trojan war is not a simple business. As if it isn’t bad enough that he has been lured away due to the shocking behaviour of her beautiful cousin Helen, Penelope must also bring up her wayward son, face down scandalous rumours and keep more than one hundred lustful, greedy, bloodthirsty suitors at bay… Perhaps not surprising then that it all ends in murder.

Margaret Atwood has given Penelope her own voice so that she can tell her story at last and set the record straight for good.

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A Farewell to Arms

A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway, Vintage Classics, BookA Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Vintage Classics: paperback published 2005: 293 pages

In 1918 Ernest Hemingway went to war. He volunteered for the ambulance service in Italy, was wounded and twice decorated. Out of this experience came A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway’s description of war is unforgettable. He recreates the fear, the comradeship, the courage of his young American volunteer, and the men and women he meets in Italy, with total conviction. But A Farewell to Arms is not only a novel of war – in it Hemingway has also created a love story of immense drama and uncompromising passion. Continue reading

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I’ve Met Someone

ApocalypseGosh-darn it. Curses. Fiddlesticks.

And all that.*

So it turns out my imagination doesn’t really like to stay with one thing for too long. I was driving home yesterday listening to Radioactive by Imagine Dragons (really love this song – you go and listen, and I’ll wait here…) Continue reading

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Author Spotlight: Margaret Atwood

Margaret AtwoodRemember the author spotlight of Neil Gaiman? Now it’s the turn of another favourite author of mine: Margaret Atwood.

No doubt you have read something of Atwood’s in your lifetime – from 1970’s The Edible Woman to the 2009 novel The Year of the Flood – part of the incredible MaddAddam series. Or perhaps you’ve tried some of her poetry or short stories. Most likely you’ve read The Handmaid’s Tale – whether through school or because of its integral place in literature. Continue reading

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Oryx and Crake

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Virago: paperback published 2009: 433 pages

Pigs might not fly but they are strangely altered. So, for that matter, are wolves and racoons. A man, once named Jimmy, now calls himself Snowman and lives in a tree, wrapped in old bed sheets. The voice of Oryx, the woman he loved, teasingly haunts him. And the green-eyed Children of Crake are, for some reason, his responsibility.

Welcome to the outrageous imagination of Margaret Atwood.

~*~

With the exception of Orwell’s 1984, I don’t believe anyone does dystopia like Margaret Atwood. Let’s set aside her more famous The Handmaid’s Tale, and for the moment just concentrate on my favourite The Year of the Flood. Something has happened to the world as we know it. Something referred to as “the flood”. But goodness knows what, all we know is that it’s pretty devastating. Sort of apocalyptic in fact. Meet Ren and Toby, both trying to make it in a world where, at first glance, they are completely alone.

This is one of my favourite dystopian tales. It makes sense – in that it doesn’t make sense. No one really knows what’s happened, and when imagining the apocalypse, I don’t really expect people to go “oh, yeah, it’s because this happened and now this is happening”. I more imagine a “ARGH WHAT’S HAPPENING, I DON’T UNDERSTAND, WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE” situation. And so does Atwood, I think.

Anyway, we’re not here to review The Year of the Flood (but do go and read it). We’re here to review Oryx and Crake. But I have a very good reason for mentioning the former in relation to the latter. Predominantly, because the two are linked. Forget Ren and Toby for the moment, and their predicaments (if you still don’t know what I’m talking about, why haven’t you gone and read the book by now?) and meet Snowman, our half-crazed and completely loveable (but slightly cranky) hero. He is in charge of teaching the Children of Crake – a child-like green-eyed race of people created by Crake – about this new world. But why is he the only one left (or so he thinks), and why is he in charge of the Children of Crake, and WHY did the world implode?

Snowman is haunted by his past – his mother, his best friend Crake, and Oryx, the love of his life. He’s haunted by his past actions – some of which may have contributed towards this dystopia, full of glowing green rabbits, mutated pigs that are clever enough to hunt you, and where even a cut from a splinter could mean death.

Snowman undertakes a journey, back to his past, back to where it all began, and takes us with him, allowing us glimpses into the past until, in horrifying slow motion, we understand everything.

If I remember rightly, Oryx and Crake came before The Year of the Flood. Perhaps some of you have read Oryx and Crake, but now need to read The Year of the Flood. Either way, I’m sort of glad about reading the books the wrong way round. Somehow, it feels better “not knowing” when you’re with Ren and Toby, and “knowing” when you’re with Snowman. It might be going backwards, but it feels right.

Rating: 8/10

Next book: Since I’m still not ready to have another go at a Naipaul, I thought I’d pick up one lent to me by my Granny – The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.

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