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Life Before Man by Margaret Atwood
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Life Before Man (1979)

by Margaret Atwood

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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
This book was slow for me to get into, but when I sat down to really dig in, it was Atwood as usual. Painting characters who have real thoughts and actions--whose behavior confuses them (like my own behavior sometimes confuses me). This books I would say is about the patterns we find ourselves in. Relationship patterns with significant others, children, relatives--and how it all just breaks down.

I would be hard pressed to say who the protagonist of this novel is. There are three main characters, and they are all so real I can't say that I was rooting for any of them. They were selfish and petty, but caring and loving and scared too. Just like characters outside of books.

( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
This book was slow for me to get into, but when I sat down to really dig in, it was Atwood as usual. Painting characters who have real thoughts and actions--whose behavior confuses them (like my own behavior sometimes confuses me). This books I would say is about the patterns we find ourselves in. Relationship patterns with significant others, children, relatives--and how it all just breaks down.

I would be hard pressed to say who the protagonist of this novel is. There are three main characters, and they are all so real I can't say that I was rooting for any of them. They were selfish and petty, but caring and loving and scared too. Just like characters outside of books.

( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
I did not care for this book. I found the characters self-absorbed and disagreeable, and was never particularly clear on their motivations. I'm sure someone else will have better luck. ( )
  wareagle78 | Apr 24, 2014 |
Life Before Man, another of Atwood's older books, is told from three different perspectives and jumps around in time a bit. These are perfect ingredients for me to love the book, and I really did like it very much.

Each chapter kept me wanting to read more, and I felt especially drawn to main character Lesje. Elizabeth was infuriating, though I did have a small amount of sympathy for her. Nate was a bit annoying, but again, I had some sympathy for him. All three were sympathetic characters.

The prose was divine as it always is in an Atwood novel. I loved just reading the words she had written.

At first, the novel's pace was a little bit slow, and it took a bit longer to read the whole novel than I thought it would. I kept finding places where I was in a bit of a rut as I read, but then I would find the get-up-and-go by the next chapter or even paragraph. That is part of the reason for the slightly lower-than-five rating.

Additionally, I wasn't wholly satisfied by the end of the novel. I felt it dropped off a little bit. While I don't mind being left with questions, I felt that there were just too many of them left unanswered at the end of the novel.

Overall, the novel was thought-provoking and engaging. I would definitely recommend it. ( )
  Esquiress | May 3, 2013 |
Assured writing, and impressive character studies of three rather dull people you wouldn't choose to spend time with. ( )
  LARA335 | Apr 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Margaret Atwoodprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Holt, Heleen tenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Instead of a part of the organism itself, the fossil may be some kind of record of its presence, such as a fossilized track or burrow....These fossils give us our only chance to see the extinct animals in action and to study their behavior, though definite identification is only possible where the animal has dropped dead in its tracks and become fossilized on the spot.
- Bjorn Kurten, The Age of Dinosaurs

Look, I'm smiling at you, I'm smiling in you, I'm smiling through you. How can I be dead if I breathe in every quiver of your hand?
- Abram Terz (Andrei Sinyavsky), The Icicle
Dedication
For G.
First words
I don't know how I should live.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Life Before Man chronicles with ironic precision, in masterful prose, the tragicomedy we call love between the sexes. Elizabeth - monstrous yet pitiable, Nate her husband - a patchwork man, gentle, dilillusioned, and Lesje his lover, a young woman prehistoric in her simplicity, form a sexual triangle whose encounter illuminate profound truths about contemporary experience. Margaret Atwood, poet, short story writer and literary critic is one of the most acclaimed novelists of our time. Of her four novels, Virago publish The Edible WOman (1969), Surfacing (1972). Exploring the birth, death and survival of love, with Life Before Man Margaret Atwood has produced her finest novel to date.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385491107, Paperback)

Imprisoned by walls of their own construction, here are three people, each in midlife, in midcrisis, forced to make choices--after the rules have changed.  Elizabeth, with her controlled sensuality, her suppressed rage, is married to the wrong man.  She has just lost her latest lover to suicide.  Nate, her gentle, indecisive husband, is planning to leave her for Lesje, a perennial innocent who prefers dinosaurs to men.  Hanging over them all is the ghost of Elizabeth's dead lover...and the dizzying threat of three lives careening inevitably toward the same climax.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:17:33 -0400)

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While married couple Elizabeth and Nate are both having affairs, their adolescent daughters become pawns in the ongoing drama.

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