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Life Before Man by Margaret Atwood

Life Before Man (original 1979; edition 1998)

by Margaret Atwood

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1,427None5,325 (3.25)61
Title:Life Before Man
Authors:Margaret Atwood
Info:Anchor (1998), Edition: 1 Anchor, Paperback
Collections:Your library

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Life Before Man by Margaret Atwood (1979)



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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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 |
This month for my Project Atwood, I read Life Before Man. I have to say, it wasn’t my favorite out of the Margaret Atwood books I have read.

The book is told from three perspectives: Elizabeth’s, Nate’s, and Lesje’s (pronounced Lashia).

Elizabeth and Nate are married with two children, but don’t have a conventional marriage. Elizabeth has been having very public affairs for years, and it seems like Nate is doing the same.

However, Elizabeth’s most recent lover, Chris, commits suicide, which propels both Elizabeth and Nate to think more deeply about their marriage and affairs.

Lesje works with Elizabeth, and seems as if she will be the next one pulled into an affair with Nate.

While I did enjoy reading this story, it was so long. I wanted the book to end sooner, which is never a good thing. Not my favorite Atwood, but not terrible overall. Just good.

Do you have a book by a favorite author that was a little underwhelming?

Thanks for reading,

Rebecca @ Love at First Book ( )
  LoveAtFirstBook | Mar 31, 2013 |
As someone ending a marriage that was likely not always loveless, though I cannot remember it as such, this is a book that spoke deeply to me. The stories of Elizabeth, Nate and Lesje make me want to cry, to laugh, to scream, to comfort. They make me realize that each of us have sides of ourselves that we would rather not be shown to the world, but in our worst times, those are the sides that are usually the most obvious.

Atwood never ceases to amaze me, but often I am more drawn into her stories than I am the characters. Here was the exact opposite. Instead of a dystopia where women are made into baby carriages, instead of a tale of the end of our world and the start of a new generation, instead of a lookback into the mind of a serial killer, we are faced with the mundane. A loveless marriage. How that is impacted by the addition of other relationships. How it ends. How each member in that play deals with the emotions circling above them.

And this is enough to push me page after page, quickly, and with eagerness, to see when I can catch a glimpse of myself the next time. ( )
  HippieLunatic | Jan 14, 2013 |
This is a novel is about relationships, love and grief. It covers two years in the lives of three people. Short, dated sections are narrated by Elizabeth and Nate, who are a married couple, and Lesje who works in the same museum as Elizabeth. Nate and Elizabeth have an "open" marriage, both have lovers but stay together for the sake of the children. Shortly before the opening of the story Elizabeth's last lover commits suicide and this is a catalyst for change within the relationship.

I must say that it is important to pay attention to the dates as the story skips months and occasionally Nate's sections cover things that occurred earlier. I appreciate Atwood's ability to make unappealing characters interesting,. The story is well written and, though I can't call this enjoyable, it is definitely a thought provoking read. ( )
1 vote calm | Aug 1, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Margaret Atwoodprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Holt, Heleen tenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
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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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