Elaine Risley is a controversial artist who's returning to the place of her youth, Toronto, for a retrospective of her art. While there, she reminisces about her life as a child and the group of girls who tormented and haunted her throughout these years. We see her mature and watch as she struggles with her identity as a daughter, mother, artist, and woman.
If you're familiar with Atwood, you'll understand me when I say that her writing is unparalleled. While reading I often wonder how it is humanly possible to invent all these expertly structured sentences, metaphors, and images. But that's the beauty of Margaret Atwood's writing, and it was certainly displayed in this novel. Here's an excerpt from the third chapter:
"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."
That's only a small example that I found quickly. There are countless others scattered liberally throughout the book, and they're all a delight to read. That being said, I found the book as a whole difficult to read. The plotline was extremely dry and moved at an extremely slow pace, which is a huge turn off for most people. The setting changed from past to present without warning and was, at times, hard to keep up with. There were also many redundant chapters in the novel that didn't add to the main story and served no purpose. This is definitely not a light book.
Even though I marvelled at Atwood's writing style and was constantly being amazed, I can't help but think that there's a deeper meaning to this book that I'm just not grasping. There must be, otherwise it's simply a flatlined tale of a woman's life that seemingly has no meaning. This book is purely philosophical. For all those deep-thinkers out there, this one's for you!
Recommendation: If you're an avid Atwood reader or someone who can sit down and enjoy a book solely based on writing, give Cat's Eye a shot. Otherwise, I don't think you'd enjoy this book.