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Margaret Atwood

Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1989. 319pp, paper, $6.95
ISBN 0-7710-9950-9. (New Canadian Library series). CIP

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by Ellen Robson.

Volume 18 Number 1
1990 January

Twenty years after Margaret Atwood published her first novel, a reprint has been made with an afterword by Linda Hutcheon. Although reprints of this major Canadian author are necessary, a rereading of The Edible Woman makes the reader aware of Atwood's growth as a writer. The imagery of food and consumption is overpowering but the comments on modern society and its consumerism are still very valid.

The novel centres on Marion MacAlpine, a sensible young woman employed by a consumer survey company, who loses her self-identity when she becomes engaged to a tradi­tional young businessman. The sub-plot revolves around her roommate, the feminist Ainsley, who is determined to have a baby without marrying. Roles are reversed as Ainsley becomes the traditional one while Marion breaks her engagement to regain her sanity and sense of choice.

The novel is divided into three parts: in the first Marion becomes a prisoner in a nightmarish world, in the second she finally rejects that world, and in the third she evolves to a higher level of reality. The first and third parts are written in the first person and the second part is written in third person to emphasize her detachment and loss of identity.

The setting is surrealistic as the reader follows Marion around familiar sights of Toronto. Despite setting and theme, the tone is very light-hearted. This novel is a document of the 1960s but all the characters and situations are easily recognizable as we enter the 1990s. Many people today are still struggling for survival and sanity, just as Marion does.

Any library should have copies of all Margaret Atwood's works on the shelf and this title is a needed replacement for all the worn-out copies from years ago.

Ellen Robson, Winston Churchill Collegiate Institute, Scarborough, Ont.
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