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Cat's Eye
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* An exceptional novel from the winner of the 2000 Booker Prize

About the Author

Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa in 1939. She is Canada's most eminent novelist and poet and has published more than thirty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays. Her work has been translated into thirty-three languages. Her latest novel, The Blind Assassin won the 2000 Booker Prize.

Reviews

Herself the daughter of a Canadian forest entomologist, Atwood writes in an autobiographical vein about Elaine Risley, a middle-aged Canadian painter (and daughter of a forest entomologist) who is thrust into an extended reconsideration of her past while attending a retrospective show of her work in Toronto, a city she had fled years earlier in order to leave behind painful memories. Most pointedly, Risley reflects on the strangeness of her long relations with Cordelia, a childhood friend whose cruelties, dealt lavishly to Risley, helped hone her awareness of our inveterate appetite for destruction even while we love, and are understood as characteristically femininea betrayal of other women that masks a ferocious betrayal of oneself. Atwood's portrayal of the friendship gives the novel its fraught and mysterious center, but her critical assessment of Cordelia and the ``whole world of girls and their doings'' also takes the measure of a coercive, conformist society (not quite as extreme as in the futuristic The Handmaid's Tale ). Emerging ``the stronger'' for her latecoming understanding of herself, Risley in the final pages rises above the ties that bound her, transcendently alive to the possibilities of ``light, shining out in the midst of nothing.'' BOMC main selection. (Feb.)

'Not since Graham Greene or William Golding has a novelist captured so forcefully the relationship between school bully and victim...Atwood's power games are played, exquisitely, by little girls' LISTENER 'Irrestistible...This book is about life for all of us. She is one of our finest novelists. Read it' THE TIMES

YA-- When Elaine Risley returns to her hometown, Toronto, for a retrospective show of her paintings, she finds more than critical acclaim. Local streets, long-gone landmarks, and elements in the paintings themselves trigger memories of her transient childhood traveling across Canada with her entomologist father; of adolescence marred by the cruel teasing of three friends; and of love affairs with her first art teacher and mentor, and with Jon, her first husband. In addition, Elaine is haunted by thoughts of her chief tormentor/best friend, Cordelia, whom she last saw years ago in a mental institution. Atwood's focus on the inner landscape of Elaine's youth and early adult years will appeal to older teenagers.-- Alice Conlon, University of Houston

When artist Elaine Risley returns to her native Toronto for a retrospective of her work, she is nearly overcome by the pungent memories of childhood. These memories are not so pleasant, for as Atwood observes with deadly accuracy: ``Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life-sized.'' Having spent her early childhood on the road with her entomologist father--and only her brother as playmate--she is initially stymied by these life-sized terrors; she is more at ease with boys than with the calculated cruelties of girls. Indeed, many readers will identify painfully with Atwood's deft descriptions of the betrayals, exclusions, and power plays of Elaine's friends. The consequences for Elaine--suddenly evident even in her art--must now be annulled through vivid recall. Childhood's particular anguish has been told before, but Atwood is exceptional in her steady, dry-eyed revelation of the truth.-- Barbara Hoffert, ``Library Journal''

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