The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood

The blurb from Amazon.com;

Ever since her engagement, the strangest thing has been happening to Marian McAlpin: she can’t eat. First meat. Then eggs, vegetables, cake, pumpkin seeds–everything! Worse yet, she has the crazy feeling that she’s being eaten. Marian ought to feel consumed with passion, but she really just feels…consumed. A brilliant and powerful work rich in irony and metaphor, The Edible Woman is an unforgettable masterpiece by a true master of contemporary literary fiction.

This was my first Atwood, I’m ashamed to admit. I really don’t read a lot of Canadian authors only because I feel like I should read them, what with me being born in that glorious country (Oh! Canada…). Sorry, I forgot myself for a moment. My patriotism kicks in at the oddest of times.

Feminism is a theme which interests me greatly although the author, according to wikipedia anyway, describes it as protofeminist. The idea of being eaten, bit by bit, not necessarily by overtly sexist actions and ways of thinking, is the perfect metaphor for what it feels like to be woman. I know, we live in a time of equality blah, blah, blah. However, Atwood manages to tap into the emotional side of the gender issue, especially how a woman can feel as if she is losing herself within a romantic relationship, or within the role of mother.

One of the most effective ways the author represents that in “The Edible Woman”, beyond the metaphor of cannibalism,  is the change in narrative perspective. As Marian loses more of her own identity the narration switches to third person. Once she reclaims her self  it again turns back to first person.

Although this wasn’t one of those novels which will stay with me forever, I feel that this was a good introduction to this great author. However, I’m not sure how Atwood’s other novels compare to this one. I know that this was from relatively early in her literary career. “Oryx and Crake” has been added to my TBR pile.

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