978-0-446-31498-5 / 0446314986

The Edible Woman

by Margaret Atwood

Publisher:Warner Books



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About the book:

Margaret Atwood was already a mature writer when she wrote her first novel, The Edible Woman, in her mid-20s. The elements readers admire in her later fiction--edgy comedy, Gothic undertones, and a mordantly ironic view of contemporary society--are all present. The Edible Woman remains as delectably fresh and original as it was in the 1960s.

Her main character, Marian McAlpin, has a very contemporary problem. She feels alienated: constrained by her market-research job, ambivalent about her engagement to the "nicely packaged" but dull Peter, and alarmed by the prospect of her friends embarking on chaotic motherhoods. In a narrative jammed with images of food, body parts, advertising, and shiny surfaces, Marian feels like a commodity to be portioned out, wrapped up, and consumed. Acquiescing to a degree, she also rebels: she virtually stops eating, and she constantly flees from Peter in favour of the dubious alternative represented by Duncan, a bizarre student with a fetish for ironing. Vulnerable but empowered, tangled up in a world from which she is also acerbically detached, Marian is a classic Atwood heroine. The novel's ambiguous resolution, involving a woman-shaped cake that Marian solemnly decapitates and serves to her significant others, may seem heavy-handed. But it does drive home Atwood's pointed satire of an insidious consumer culture that convinces young people--and women in particular--that their identities and choices can be pulled from a shelf. That message is as relevant as ever. The Edible Womanhas no best-before date. --John C. Ball

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