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Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood

Cat's Eye (original 1988; edition 1989)

by Margaret Atwood

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6,987115517 (3.94)1 / 480
Title:Cat's Eye
Authors:Margaret Atwood
Info:Seal (1989), Edition: Seal ed, Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library

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Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood (1988)


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English (111)  Swedish (2)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (115)
Showing 1-5 of 111 (next | show all)
I liked this better than the other Atwood books I have read. Perhaps this is due to the fact that it's the most realistic one. Though Elaine Risley grew up a generation earlier than I did, I could relate to her and her childhood in a way that I wasn't able to relate to characters in her other novels. ( )
  leslie.98 | Sep 15, 2016 |
My Gosh I am reading 1 book a day these few past days. Just lying in bed and read read read. Yesterday I picked this book. it has been on my shelf for years and I finished it last night.

It is good but not near as good as Handmaid's tale but what i did notice that there is a lot to think about once you have read this book. There is a lot left in the air and once done it makes you wonder. I like that. ( )
  Marlene-NL | Mar 12, 2016 |
The portrayal of the child Elaine's isolation and alienation made it hard to put this down, hard to keep reading. ( )
  seschanfield | Mar 7, 2016 |

Elaine’s only playmate is her older brother Stephen, and she happily engages in games of war with him. When Elaine is eight years old, her father takes a position as a university professor and they settle down in Toronto. Elaine enrolls in public school for the first time, and is suddenly thrust into the world of girls. She makes friends with Carol Campbell, a girl her age who also rides the bus to school. Carol seems charmed by Elaine’s primitive qualities. Carol has another friend, Grace Smeath, who is a year older. The three girls spend time together after school and on weekends, playing girl games.

Elaine’s family still travels to the northern wilderness in the summer. When they return, Elaine discovers there is a new girl with Carol and Grace. Her name is Cordelia, and she immediately establishes herself as the dominant member of the group. At first, they play seemingly innocent games, but soon Cordelia begins to bully Elaine, and Carol and Grace join in. Under their almost-constant bullying and criticizing, Elaine becomes anxious and nervous, but their friendship is very important to her, so she tolerates the abuse without complaining. It is not until Cordelia causes her to almost be frozen to death that she gets the strength to break ties with the girls. Subconsciously, she erases all memory of what happened to her, and when Cordelia’s mother wants them to walk to high school together, she does not see any reason to object.

Elaine and Cordelia consider themselves to be best friends in high school, even though they really have nothing in common. Elaine develops a mean mouth, and enjoys mocking Cordelia. As Elaine gets stronger in the relationship, Cordelia begins exhibiting signs that she might have some underlying problems of her own. When Elaine gets a fleeting glimpse of a disturbing memory, she begins putting more distance between them. While Elaine succeeds at school, Cordelia fails, and her changing appearance indicates that she, too, may be experiencing emotional turmoil. Cordelia and Elaine begin to see each other less and less frequently.

After high school, Elaine attends university classes as well as night classes of the local Art College. She develops her drawing skill in Life Drawing class and is drawn into an affair with the teacher, Josef Hrbik. There is also another girl from the class involved with Mr. Hrbik, Susie, but she does not know about Elaine. When Susie finds that she is pregnant, she terminates the pregnancy herself and endangers her life. She calls Elaine for help, and Elaine witnesses the horror of a botched abortion. At this point, Susie finds the courage to also terminate her relationship with Josef, leaving Elaine alone in a relationship with a broken man. She begins to treat Josef with contempt and a spirit of meanness, and Josef leaves Toronto in despair.

Now Elaine is left with Jon, who was one of her classmates in Life Drawing class. Their affair began when she was still with Josef. On Jon’s part, it is an open relationship, which makes her uncomfortable. When Elaine discovers she is pregnant, she is afraid to tell Jon, but she won’t try to end it because of what Susie went through. As it turns out, Jon marries her and they have their daughter Sarah. Unfortunately, neither of them is ready or willing to take on the burden of responsible adulthood, and their relationship becomes tumultuous. Elaine is finally driven to attempt to take her own life. Although Jon saves her life, the quality of the relationship remains strained, and Elaine sinks deeper into depression. She leaves Jon and Toronto and takes Sarah with her to Vancouver.

In the meantime, Elaine has seen Cordelia again. She has been placed in a rest home for taking pills. She wants Elaine’s help to leave, but Elaine says she can’t. That is the last time she sees Cordelia, and she will later become obsessed about wondering what happened to her.

In Vancouver, Elaine eventually begins to feel normal again and establishes something of a reputation for herself in the world of art. When she eventually returns to Toronto for the retrospective, she is greeted as a celebrity. At the event, she keeps watching for Cordelia, and when she doesn’t come, Elaine feels completely let down. The next day she misses her plane and takes one more walk—to the ravine where she had broken through the ice. There she sees a vision of Cordelia, and she feels the same dark sensations she felt when the girls were tormenting her. Now, however, she recognizes that the emotions are not in her, but in Cordelia. With new understanding, she reaches out to her old friend and bids her to get out of the cold. ( )
  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
Many of the reviewers here have rated this their favorite Atwood novel, and I would have to agree. I read it years ago, but remember wincing through the scenes of girlhood cruelty. They really brought childhood back to me. Love to reread this sometime. ( )
1 vote fromthecomfychair | Feb 11, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Margaret Atwoodprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blaauw, Gerrit deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marcellino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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
This book is for S.
First words
Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space.
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.
Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life-sized.
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:17 -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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