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Bodily Harm by Margaret Atwood
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Bodily Harm (original 1981; edition 1986)

by Margaret Atwood

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1,614237,223 (3.2)97
Rennie Wilford, a young jounalist running from her life, takes an assignment to a Caribbean island and tumbles into a world where no one is what they seem. When the burnt-out Yankee Paul (does he smuggle dope or hustle for the CIA?) offers her a no-hooks, no strings affair, she is caught up in a lethal web of corruption.… (more)
Member:konallis
Title:Bodily Harm
Authors:Margaret Atwood
Info:London: Virago, 1986
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:general fiction verily, read 2020

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Bodily Harm by Margaret Atwood (1981)

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Rennie is a young journalist who has found her life coming to pieces. Surviving breast cancer has left her struggling with her life and her sadomasochistic relationship with Jake has come to an end.
Rennie decides to run away from life temporarily and takes a travel piece on a small caribbean island. However Rennie arrives at the island in the middle of an election and unrest and finds herself mixed into things that she has no business being mixed in.
This novel is all about power and as with any Atwood book I came away with more unanswered questions than I did answers.
  ChelleBearss | Mar 9, 2018 |
I struggled to finish this book, and its not very long. I think my problem was is that I did not like the main character Rennie. On a positive note, I did like how Atwood explored how being unmoored effected all the decisions Rennie made; it seemed very realistic. ( )
  Boohradley | Jan 12, 2018 |
Having heard about Margaret Atwood for many years, I finally decided to try one. It was . . . interesting. And disconcerting. But I'm pretty sure I'll read more of her stuff. ( )
  dickmanikowski | Sep 18, 2017 |
An exploration of passivity and connection. Rennie's life begins to fall apart after her cancer diagnosis. Unable to deal with the way her body has betrayed her, she escapes to a Caribbean island, but her emotional state interferes with her ability to make self-protective decisions and she gets swept into local politics.
Rennie's lifestyle is not one I usually can tolerate reading about, but Atwood's strong writing pulled me in. This was written with a very fluid time sense-- with flashbacks to Rennie's formative years in a puritanical rural community in Canada, to her relationships with her live-in boyfriend and her surgeon, to her work as independent lifestyle journalist, to her sole-mentioned woman friend --and with much introspection. Sections that are not set in current time lack quotation marks around remembered dialog, but that lack didn't bother me as much as the same technique in another author's book.
Rennie has a recurring memory of her senile grandmother thinking she has lost her hands, which is haunting but which isn't easily tied in to the plot and leaves me wondering why that particular body part. ( )
1 vote juniperSun | Jul 11, 2017 |
Bodily Harm is about Rennie, a journalist recovering from breast cancer. In an attempt to escape from reality, she takes a working vacation to the Caribbean islands of St. Agathe and St. Antione. There she becomes involved in the political turmoil of the region.

This book is similar to some of Atwood's other books in that you get bits and pieces of the story as you go and have to put them all together when you get to the end of the novel. Having read some of her more recent novels, it was obvious to me that in this earlier book she hadn't quite hit her stride yet. I didn't like this book as much as some of her others (like The Handmaid's Tale and The Blind Assassin), and I didn't think it was as good as her later work.

One of the main problems I had with it was that I didn't like Rennie because she constantly made stupid choices that put her in danger and continued on a self-destructive path even when she knew what she was doing was a bad idea. I can understand that she acted this way as a result of some form of post-traumatic stress disorder that came from her battle with cancer, but I just didn't feel any sympathy for her.

For fans of Atwood, this book is worth reading, but it's probably not the one to start with if you've never read her. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Summary
A powerfully and brilliantly crafted novel, "Bodily Harm is the story of Rennie Wilford, a young journalist whose life has begun to shatter around the edges. Rennie flies to the Caribbean to recuperate, and on the tiny island of St. Antoine she is confronted by a world where her rules for survival no longer apply. By turns comic, satiric, relentless, and terrifying, Margaret Atwood's "Bodily Harm is ultimately an exploration of the lust for power, both sexual and political, and the need for compassion that goes beyond what we ordinarily mean by love.
added by tobiejonzarelli | editLibrary Journal
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Margaret Atwoodprimary authorall editionscalculated
Donkers, TinekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Funhoff, TinekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
A man's presence suggests what he is capable of doing to you or for you. By contrast, a woman's presence ... defines what can and cannot be done to her.

John Berger, Ways of Seeing
Dedication
For Jennifer Rankin, 1941-1979.
For Graeme, James and John.
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This is how I got here, says Rennie.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Rennie Wilford, a young journalist running from her life, takes an assignment to a Caribbean island and tumbles into a world where no one is what they seem. When the burnt-out Yankee Paul (does he smuggle dope or hustle for the CIA?) offers a no-hooks, no-strings affair, she is caught up in a lethal web of corruption...
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