Oh, Margaret Atwood, you are my new obsession. After reading The Handmaid’s Tale a couple of months ago, I had to get my hands on more from this author. Cat’s Eye, said to be Atwood’s most autobiographical work, is absolutely terrifying. Not in a monster in the closet, serial killer down the street kind of way- it’s a very real, very terrifying reality. At least for girls.
This novel details a woman’s experiences growing up as she remembers them as an adult. The main character, Elaine, is back in her hometown of Toronto to promote her retrospective art show. As an adult, she has found success in the art world, but that success did not magically happen overnight. As Elaine travels throughout town, she thinks about all the things that happened to her as a child, and how those experiences shaped her adulthood. Some are fond memories, but most include another young girl that intertwines in and out of her life, regardless of how much she wants it to end.
Enter Cordelia. Probably the most terrifying character I’ve ever read, simply because she exists in everyone’s life. That mean girl that is mean just because she can be. Every girl knows one. And at times, every girl is one. It’s not Tina Fey’s version of mean girls either, it’s significantly more chilling. It brought me back to how mean kids can be because they aren’t worried about pretending to be nice. They are brutally honest, and sometimes, just brutal. It’s way beyond “Stop trying to make fetch happen! It’s not going to happen” (sorry for that digression for my readers who did not grow up obsessed with Mean Girls.)
Elaine was made to feel insignificant as a child by her peers, and no matter how much success she finds as an adult, it is not enough. Throughout the course of the novel, her esteem improves, but she is still waiting for her next encounter with Cordelia.
I’m not joking when I say I had nightmares about this little girl. I can’t remember the last time a book scared me this much. At the same time, I can’t wait to devour another of Atwood’s masterpieces. On that note, does anyone know why Atwood is not considered a classic author? I’ve looked in a couple of bookstores, and she is placed with the trendy here-today, forgotten-tomorrow books instead of placing her among what I consider to be her peers. You can find Sylvia Plath and Joyce Carol Oates in the classics section, but no Atwood. Just curious. Please comment if you know what is keeping her from the Literary canon!
Mer’s rating: 8/10