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Surfacing (1972)

by Margaret Atwood

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,094992,446 (3.39)344
A young woman returns to northern Quebec to the remote island of her childhood, with her lover and two friends, to investigate the mysterious disappearance of her father. Flooded with memories, she begins to realise that going home means entering not only another place but another time. As the wild island exerts its elemental hold and she is submerged in the language of the wilderness, she sees that what she is really looking for is her own past.… (more)
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English (96)  Swedish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (99)
Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)
This book has left me a bit bewildered and a bit awestruck. I enjoyed the reading process of Surfacing, curling up every afternoon with my tea and my thinking cap firmly in place. It is not a passive read. Right from the first page there is a mystery element present that keeps the reader's brain finely tuned to the details in order to understand what is not being said. I enjoyed the challenge but in typical Atwood style, there is a lack of closure at the end that was slightly frustrating, considering the mental energy I put into the book. There were so many aspects of the story that I thought I understood but didn't know for sure. Although I'm normally okay with open endings, this one really left me hanging with a lot to think about. This one is going on the re-read pile. ( )
  Iudita | Aug 31, 2022 |
Surfacing by Margaret Atwood (1998)
  sharibillops | May 20, 2022 |
Ung kona heldur á heimaslóðir á afskekktri eyju í Kanada ásamt manni sínum og vinahjónum. Brátt sækja á hana minningar frá æsku sinni, dularfullu hvarfi föður hennar og óuppgerð mál úr eigin lífi. Í einangrunni á eyjunni stefnir allt í óefni í samskiptum einstaklinganna á sama tíma og sálarflækjur konunnar ágerast þar til upp úr sýður.
Hárbeittur og eftirminnilegur prósi hjá Atwood sem er með betri rithöfundum sem uppi eru í dag. ( )
  SkuliSael | Apr 28, 2022 |
I was prepared to dash through this short novel but quickly realized I ought to slow down, then slower still, one chapter per day. It is tightly woven like a short story, without the extraneous bits, full of great descriptions ('cow-sprinkled hills ... cuttings dynamited in pink and grey granite'). I'm more familiar with Ontario than Quebec, but I know this backcountry with its lakes and mist, its quiet woods and islands. Atwood fully convinces me that she knows it too.

There are two mysteries in play, the surface action and also a deeper psychological story. A woman's father who lives alone in his island cottage goes mysteriously missing. After being notified, she rounds up her boyfriend and some friends to transport her, so she can look for clues. At the same time, the reader is left to wonder why she's bothering. She displays no particular attachment to her father in her first-person narrative - nor to her boyfriend, or to her shallow friends, nor is she triggered by nostalgia during this trip back to her childhood stomping grounds (it was never her home, she keeps telling us.) She isn't attached to anything, or anyone. References to drowning creep in, to being underwater.

I'm of two minds about stories that delve into different realms of logic where I can't follow, but there's something satisfying in how it's managed here. Before you can surface you must first submerge, to the only place where you can find the answers you seek. ( )
  Cecrow | Sep 16, 2021 |
Wow.. I actually found this one quite.. frustrating in parts. Still great, it's just the sentence structure which kept throwing me but that's probably just because I like to read and write very concisely.
Otherwise, great book. I would have loved a bit more info and a couple of scenes to be extended but the mystery kind of makes it more likable in the sense of being intriguing and making you kind of wonder where certain themes and experiences of the character are being pulled from.
It makes me want to get back to nature, oddly enough.. ( )
  SarahRita | Aug 11, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (59 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Atwood, Margaretprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blais, Marie-ClaireAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
du Plessix Gray, FrancineIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Geeve, SallyDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibson, GraemeContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pulice, Mario J.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sawyers, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Werner, HoniCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I can't believe I'm on this road again, twisting along past the lake where the white birches are dying, the disease is spreading up from the south, and I notice they now have sea-planes for hire.
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His drowning never seemed to affect him as much as I thought it should, he couldn't even remember it. If it had happened to me I would have felt there was something special about me, to be raised from the dead like that; I would have returned with secrets, I would have known things most people didn't.
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A young woman returns to northern Quebec to the remote island of her childhood, with her lover and two friends, to investigate the mysterious disappearance of her father. Flooded with memories, she begins to realise that going home means entering not only another place but another time. As the wild island exerts its elemental hold and she is submerged in the language of the wilderness, she sees that what she is really looking for is her own past.

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Book description
Part detective novel, part psychological thriller, Surfacing is the story of a talented woman artist who goes in search of her missing father on a remote island in northern Quebec. Setting out with her lover and another young couple, she soon finds herself captivated by the isolated setting, where a marriage begins to fall apart, violence and death lurk just beneath the surface, and sex becomes a catalyst for conflict and dangerous choices.
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Average: (3.39)
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