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Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood
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Cat's Eye (original 1988; edition 1989)

by Margaret Atwood

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6,469103592 (3.95)1 / 422
Member:chamekke
Title:Cat's Eye
Authors:Margaret Atwood
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Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood (1988)

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English (99)  Swedish (2)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (103)
Showing 1-5 of 99 (next | show all)
An excellent read, although at times very disturbing and chilling. Elaine is a successful artist, who on returning to Toronto, her home from about age eight years to 30 years for an exhibition of her work, starts to look back on her life in Toronto.
We are given a description of idyllic early years with almost nomadic parents and an older brother until her Dad gets a job at the university in Toronto and they move there. Elaine makes friends locally and experiences dreadful bullying and this was the part I found particularly chilling.
It is a while since I had read any Margaret Atwood and I had forgotten just how brilliant an author she is. Her attention to detail and her ability to bring together a scene are fantastic. She takes us through over two decades of life in Toronto, within a school and family and an alternative community and does this very well. The reader is with Elaine every step of the way and this makes for an engrossing novel. ( )
  Tifi | Aug 17, 2014 |
Ever since reading The Handmaid's Tale, I have been scared--but anxious--to read more Atwood. I have a crippling fear that the next Atwood book I will read will be terrible, and my reasons for adoring and respecting her novels will be taken away from me. It's an irrational fear, but one that makes me nervous whenever I start a new novel of hers.

However, once I'm past page 3, I'm hooked, and love it.

Cat's Eye was no different. Although the novel is fiction, there are several bits of autobiographical truth to it. And that adds a layer of interest to the novel, but really what affects me is how much I can relate to the character. (And I'm not sure that's a good thing--but it is refreshing.)

Elaine, a painter (not an artist), must go back to her childhood home...and face her past. That SOUNDS about the cheesiest plot ever, right? But in true Atwood style, she draws the reader in, and doesn't let you go until the end.

A must read. ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Ever since reading The Handmaid's Tale, I have been scared--but anxious--to read more Atwood. I have a crippling fear that the next Atwood book I will read will be terrible, and my reasons for adoring and respecting her novels will be taken away from me. It's an irrational fear, but one that makes me nervous whenever I start a new novel of hers.

However, once I'm past page 3, I'm hooked, and love it.

Cat's Eye was no different. Although the novel is fiction, there are several bits of autobiographical truth to it. And that adds a layer of interest to the novel, but really what affects me is how much I can relate to the character. (And I'm not sure that's a good thing--but it is refreshing.)

Elaine, a painter (not an artist), must go back to her childhood home...and face her past. That SOUNDS about the cheesiest plot ever, right? But in true Atwood style, she draws the reader in, and doesn't let you go until the end.

A must read. ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Another great book by Margaret Atwood, though not my favorite of hers that I've read. This book is a first person narrative of a woman artist (painter in her terms) who goes back to her hometown for a retrospective at a gallery and revisits her memories. It is very raw and personal and I keep wondering how much of it is based on the author's life. It was very hard to read the elementary school memories of how mean girls are to each other. That hit a little too close to home. What I didn't like about the book was what really makes it a great work - it just is relentlessly inside this narrator's life and memories, all the pain and anxiety. It really got to me. ( )
  japaul22 | Jun 23, 2014 |
This book was first published in 1989, and I read it around then. It’s the story of Elaine Risley, who grew up in Toronto right after WWII, when Toronto was a back-water town. Now she is an established feminist artist, returning to Toronto for a retrospective of her work. Returning to Toronto brings up many childhood issues. As a young girl, she was in a difficult bullying situation, which still haunts her.

It’s funny how we read books differently at different times in our lives. When I first read the book, I identified with Elaine as a girl. Now that I am a mother myself, I identify more with the mothers in the book—with Elaine’s mother, who is haunted by her failure to protect Elaine, and by Elaine-as-a-mother, who is baffled by her relationships with her own daughters.

Here is a passage about motherhood: ”They amaze me, they always have. When they were little I felt I had to protect them from certain things about myself, the fear, the messier parts of the marriages, the days of nothing. I didn’t want to pass anything on to them, anything of mine they would be better of without. At those times I would lie on the floor in the dark, with the curtains drawn and the door closed. I would say, Mummy has a headache. Mummys’s working. But they didn’t seem to need that protection, they seemed to take everything in, look at it straight, accept everything. “Mummy’s in there lying on the floor. She’ll be fine tomorrow,” I heard Sarah tell Anne when one was ten and the other was four. And so I was fine. Such faith, like the faith in sunrise or the phases of the moon, sustained me. It must be this sort of thing that keeps God going.”

The book covers many other themes; gender roles; art; the quirks of memory; aging and sexuality. The characters are well drawn and the writing is excellent. The book is difficult enough, that I can’t say I liked it, and it was hard to read at times. But I AM glad that I re-read it. ( )
  banjo123 | Apr 18, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Margaret Atwoodprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blaauw, Gerrit deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
When the Tukanas cut off her head, the old woman collected her own blood in her hands and blew it towards the sun. "My soul enters you, too!" she shouted. Since then anyone who kills receives in his body, without wanting or knowing it, the soul of his victim.
--Eduardo Galeano Memory of Fire: Genesis
Why do we remember the past, and not the future?
--Stephen W. Hawking A Brief History of Time
Dedication
This book is for S.
First words
Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space.
Quotations
An eye for an eye only leads to more blindness.
Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Controversial painter Elaine Risley vividly reflects on her childhood and teenage years. Her strongest memories are of Cordelia, who was the leader of a trio of girls who were both very cruel and very kind to young Elaine, in ways that tint Elaine's perceptions of relationships and her world—not to mention her art—into the character's middle years. The novel unfolds in Canada of the mid-20th century, from World War II to the late 1980s, and includes a look at many of the cultural elements of that time period, including feminism and various modern art movements.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385491026, Paperback)

Cat's Eye is the story of Elaine Risley, a controversial painter who returns to Toronto, the city of her youth, for a retrospective of her art. Engulfed by vivid images of the past, she reminisces about a trio of girls who initiated her into the fierce politics of childhood and its secret world of friendship, longing, and betrayal. Elaine must come to terms with her own identity as a daughter, a lover, an artist, and a woman--but above all she must seek release from her haunting memories. Disturbing, hilarious, and compassionate, Cat's Eye is a breathtaking novel of a woman grappling with the tangled knot of her life.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:50:24 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

It is the story of Elaine Risley, a controversial painter who returns to the city of her youth for a retrospective of her art. Engulfed by vivid images of the past, she reminisces about a trio of girls who initiated her into the fierce politics of childhood and its secret world of friendship, longing, and betrayal. Elaine must come to terms with her own identity as a daughter, a lover, an artist, and a woman--but above all she must seek release from her haunting memories.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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