Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood

Published: 1976
Pages: 434
Genre: Fiction
Joan Foster is the frustrated wife of a political activist. Lady Oracle depicts her horrific childhood as an obese child, as well as the resentment of her mother who couldn't accept her. In her adult life, Joan starts to write gothic novels and attracts the attention of many men, including a blackmailing reporter who threatens to reveal her past. Joan flees the country and stages her death as she tries to leave her old life behind and start anew.
I'm a big fan of Margaret Atwood's novels, so when I saw Lady Oracle in the discount book store I couldn't simply walk away. After finishing the book a few short minutes ago, I've been convinced once again that Atwood is one of my favourite authors of all time. Here's why.

This is such a unique novel - from the writing, to the characters, to the story line. My curiosity played a big role in getting me involved with the book, and I think that's why it affected me like it did. I was completely drawn into its haunting and dark atmosphere and couldn't escape it. But, it wasn't a depressing book at all! I found the tone to be comical at times, and even sarcastic. Lady Oracle is so hard to describe in terms of a reading experience; it almost feels like a fairytale. It certainly isn't fantasy, but there's something lying between the pages that creates this magical feeling.

The main character, Joan, suffered a lot of pain as a child because of her obesity. Her mother would torment her almost like a child would, and this feeling of insufficiency certainly comes across in Joan's life as an adult. It's also very obvious when we get to read excerpts of Joan's gothic novels. Her characters subtly mimic what she felt as a child. And that's another reason why I liked Lady Oracle so much; it's basically a book inside a book. Atwood included snippets of Joan's novels throughout the main story, and they were extremely entertaining! I wish they were actual books; the stories are so whimsical, imaginative, and creative.

This goes without saying, but Atwood's writing style is by far one of the best I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I can't put my finger on it, but she has a specific way of structuring her sentences, and has such a strange but wonderful way of describing things. Even if the actual story drags on it doesn't matter - Atwood's exquisite, rich words are there to comfort you.

Recommendation: If you've read and enjoyed Atwood's books you must, must read Lady Oracle. But if you haven't, I still recommend this book to you! It probably isn't like anything you've ever read before, but don't let that scare you away. At the end of the last page, I can almost guarantee that you'll have found a new favourite author.


Aths said...

Can you believe I've never read Margaret Atwood? I have to try her sometime! Good review!

Nymeth said...

"I can't put my finger on it, but she has a specific way of structuring her sentences, and has such a strange but wonderful way of describing things."

I completely agree! Her writing just blows me away.

Emidy said...

Aths - Scandal! You must read one of her books. Right now.

Nymeth - Exactly! I can't get over how much I love her writing.

Sara said...

Wow Emidy, this is an amazing glowing review! I've been wanting to try something different, so I think I'll try this one! :D

Juju at Tales of said...

Lovely review :)

Jan von Harz said...

What a really lovely review. I am certainly convinced that this is a must read for me. I love the idea of a book within a book and Joan's character is very intriguing. Thanks for turning me on to this one.

Emidy said...

Sara - Thanks! Yes, you should try one of her books for sure.

Juju - Why thank you!

Jan - Thanks! Great, I'm happy you want to read this now.

mel u said...

Great review-my Favorite Atwood is The Handmaiden's Tale followed somewhat closely by The Penelopiad-I also read Cat's Eye but was not that taken by it