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Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood

Lady Oracle (1976)

by Margaret Atwood

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Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
Promising start. Mysterious petended death of a woman but the ending was rather strung together and anticlimactic ( )
  kakadoo202 | Mar 3, 2018 |
I did this for my Contemporary Women’s Writing module and I really liked it. Also I wrote an essay on it and wasn’t even sick of it after that so it’s got to be pretty good. I’ve read two other novels by Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace, and Lady Oracle is not at all like either of those. It’s really funny and sweet, it’s kind of a coming of age tale in a way, I really liked it. Also it’s quite interesting when you’re thinking about genre fiction and fiction aimed at women, which unless you’re doing a Contemporary Women’s Writing module, you probably aren’t. But oh well, you should still read it. It’s good. ( )
  plumtingz | Dec 14, 2017 |
I wasn't really sure I would love this book until the very last page. I mean, it's Atwood, and I've loved Atwood in the past, but it's been a while since I've read anything by her. Really, quite a while. Maybe college? But I'd had a flurry of love for her then, collecting several of her books and dutifully moving them from house to house as I moved on to other literary loves. But then, after Aurororama, I was looking for some new fiction to read. And I have a fiction problem. Have I told you? Jessa and I used to keep each other in balance. She would read mostly fiction and I read mostly non-fiction and we would recommend the gems we found along the way. Now she's on Berlin and we rarely chat and I don't know how to find new fiction on my own! So I was skulking about my bookcases, trying to find an antidote to my growing irritation with two-dimensional representations of women all around me and... of course. Atwood.

So, Lady Oracle it was. Atwood would be perfect for taking women seriously, only her character, Joan Foster, doesn't take herself terribly seriously. In fact, she is sometimes unrelatable, a few times nearly unlikeable, but there is a bit of a mystery, in that the book starts with Joan reminiscing on her faking her own death. The book is her examination of her life -- how did it come to this? Where could she possibly go from here? Her memories are juxtaposed with excerpts from her books -- Joan is a writer, primarily of bodice-rippers. In a strange way it suddenly reminds me of 1982, Janine, by Alasdair Gray, one of my favorite novels, in that both use fantasy to reveal character, and both fantasies begin to fall apart as the dreamers confront themselves and their need for the dreams.

Then in the end things fall apart so rapidly and completely that I am sure I was cringing as I read, envisioning no possibility for anything resembling a reasonable, let alone happy, ending. But, without saying how it ends, it somehow achieved a sudden clarity, and that last paragraph I could kiss Atwood for -- it is surely one of my favorite last lines of all time. ( )
1 vote greeniezona | Dec 6, 2017 |
This wasn't the best Margaret Atwood book I have ever read. That would be a toss up between The Blind Assassin and Alias Grace. However, I did enjoy parts of it and parts of it really hit close to home.

Joan Foster is a Canadian writer who has written one very successful book of poetry and a number of Victorian gothic romances under the name of Louisa K. Delacourt. She is married to a rather unsuccessful revolutionary who is probably bipolar and had an affair with an artist who calls himself the Royal Porcupine. As a child and young girl Joan was very overweight but her Aunt Lou (the real Louisa K. Delacourt) left her some money in her will on the condition she lose 100 pounds. When she did so she used the money to go to London, England where she became the mistress of a Polish count. So Joan has had a number of existences and has mostly been able to keep them separate. However, a blackmailer has discovered her many secrets and asks for money and sexual favours. To escape all this Joan fakes her death and flees to Italy. Multiple personalities seem to be quite common around Joan. Her father was an assassin during World War II but on his return to Canada he becomes an anaesthetist and brings attempted suicides back to life. Paul, the Polish count, doubles as Mavis Quilp the author of nurse romances which gives Joan the idea for her own writing. Even Arthur, her husband, is a different personality depending on which phase of the bipolar disease he is.

At the end Joan faces the prospect of returning to Canada and owning up to her past but she remains in Rome for a while so it is unclear if she will really do so. I suspect many people have contemplated escaping from their lives at one time or another. If so, Lady Oracle should be a cautionary tale about how difficult it is to do so. But is honesty the best policy? Surely sometimes it is wiser to draw a veil over past indiscretions and go on with life. It didn't work all that well for Joan but maybe for another person it would. It's an interesting conundrum. ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 9, 2017 |
Lady Oracle, one of Atwood's earliest fiction works, is a humorously peculiar book. With an undefined plotline and a meandering moral, the shining star of Lady Oracle is the precise, intelligent prose. The novel follows Joan Foster through her difficult childhood with a demanding, bullying mother and an uninterested father and into her flawed marriage with a morose social extremist and secret life as a writer of lurid Gothic romances. While the text is rambling, Joan/Atwood's musings on the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of fiction writing are particularly engaging. An odd, yet enjoyable read. ( )
  GennaC | May 9, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
Atwoodové román se odehrává v druhé polovině 20. století a politicky odráží zejména existenci západních levicových hnutí. Sama Atwoodová se aktivně hlásí k levici a patří k propagátorům ekologického života. V očích Joan jde ale o bezzubé bojůvky, kterým přes velkolepé ideály chybí konkrétní cíl i prostředky.
Bohatý děj doplňuje neodolatelný atwoodovský humor a samozřejmě i ironický feminismus. Její hrdinka se sice motá v začarovaném kruhu, své konání ale reflektuje s dokonalým odstupem: Joan se snaží řídit svůj vlastní život jako život svých romantických románových hrdinek, ale vůbec se jí to nedaří, život se jí vymyká z rukou. Každá další maska je jen komplikací, z níž už není cesty zpět. Snad jen ta schopnost nadhledu ji ještě drží nad vodou. A že se nedočkáme laciného happyendu, jaký by nechyběl v Joaniných románcích, či naopak nějaké konečné tragédie, je nasnadě.
Které já však v závěru vítězí, není vůbec jasné. Joan se v Itálii místo pocitu osvobození zmocní paranoia a fikce se životem se jí promíchá natolik, že ve snaze uchopit život do vlastních rukou praští flaškou naprosto nevinného chlápka.
added by _eskarina | editIdnes.cz, Hana Ulmanová (Dec 28, 2009)
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I planned my death carefully; unlike my life, which meandered along from one thing to another, despite my feeble attempts to control it.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Faking her own death, Joan Foster flees to an Italian seaside resort there to take stock of her life - and death - so far: a life of multiple identities and transformations, from fat girl to thin, from red hair to mud brown, from London to Toronto, from Polish Count to radical husband to the Royal Porcupine (her 'con-create' poet lover), from the secret writing of gothic romances to life as Canada's 'most distunguished female poet'. Blundering from one adventure to another, each crisis more lurid and extraordinary than the last, our irrepressible heroine is always hilarious and always a survivor - if only just.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385491085, Paperback)

Joan Foster is the bored wife of a myopic ban-the-bomber.  She takes off overnight as Canada's new superpoet, pens lurid gothics on the sly, attracts a blackmailing reporter, skids cheerfully in and out of menacing plots, hair-raising traps, and passionate trysts, and lands dead and well in Terremoto, Italy.  In this remarkable, poetic, and magical novel, Margaret Atwood proves yet again why she is considered to be one of the most important and accomplished writers of our time.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:37 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Joan Foster is the bored wife of a myopic ban-the-bomber. She takes off overnight as Canada's new superpoet, pens lurid gothics on the sly, attracts a blackmailing reporter, skids cheerfully in and out of menacing plots, hair-raising traps, and passionate trysts, and lands dead and well in Terremoto, Italy. In this remarkable, poetic, and magical novel, Margaret Atwood proves yet again why she is considered to be one of the most important and accomplished writers of our time.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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