04 July 2006

Lady Oracle

Margaret Atwood is seriously underrated. I wasn't a big fan of The Handmaid's Tale, which I read almost fifteen years ago, so I was hesitant to delve further. However, a few year's back I enthusiastically devoured Cat's Eye (yes, girls can be very horrible to other girls) and earlier this year made short work of The Blind Assassin (yes, men can be very horrible to everyone). So it was with great excitement when I stumbled upon a number of inexpensive M.A. paperbacks in a used-books store in Ottawa this past May.

Lady Oracle is a real find. I have this habit when I read of developing an affinity toward a character, but then, through the twists and turns of plot, becoming disappointed in them because of their behaviors an actions (hmmm, kind of like what happens in real life...?). The protagonist Joan Foster is trapped - on so many different levels - and no sooner does she break free of one chain, than another is created of her own doing. Joan alternates between brave and adventurous with passivity so crushing that you want to kick her. Hmmm, kind of like what happens in real life...

A few favorite passages from the book:
  • "If you could cry silently people felt sorry for you. As it was, I snorted, my eyes turned the color and shape of cooked tomatoes, my nose ran, I clenched my fists, I moaned, I was embarrassing..."
  • "...it wasn't more honesty that would have saved me, I thought; it was more dishonesty. In my experience, honesty and expressing your feelings could lead to only one thing. Disaster."
  • "So what if you turn into a butterfly? Butterflies die too."
  • "I might as well face it, I thought, I was an artist, an escape artist. I'd sometimes talked about love and commitment, but the real romance of my life was that between Houdini and his ropes and locked trunk; entering the embrace of bondage, slithering out again. What else had I ever done?"

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