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12.31.2015

Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood

Really enjoyed this book by Margaret Atwood--the first I've ever read by her.  This is a cozy book that left me pining for the nostalgia of little girlhood.

Cat's Eye is not at all dystopian like Atwood's many other books, but rather the story of a Elaine Risley, growing up in Toronto just after WWII.

Atwood conjured feelings of sentimentality as she brings you into a time warp, a world where girls still wore dresses to school, and had separate staircases from the boys in elementary.  Heartbreaking, too, to watch this world disappear with Elaine's maturity.

Elaine's girlhood friendships are at the crux of this story; primarily Cordelia, vicious and two faced as a little girl, once practically leaving Elaine for dead in a snowy ravine.  The friendship continues through their teen years.  The dynamic shifts.  Cordelia becomes despondent, depressed; whereas Elaine's life has much more potential and she has success and volition.

I like how Atwood doesn't put a Hitler mustache
on any of these little girls during their petty cruelties to one another; they have nuance, and the dynamic of the friendship changes over time, and the connection remains.  Or remains well into adulthood, anyway.  It's unclear what's happened to Cordelia at the end.

Mental illness and the struggle to grow up forms a second theme; both Elaine and Cordelia try to kill themselves at different points, and Cordelia spends time in a mental hospital.

Loved the way that Atwood writes.  This book has many many sections, and lots of short chapters.

Cordelia......kind of a paradox.  She comes from a privilege.  It seems that she'd have opportunity, but she ends up rather depressed and defeated.  These characters certainly are not boring.

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