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.