0439 | Surfacing | Margaret Atwood


Atwood’s first second (thanks Irina!) published novel sees her get off to a good start with this eerie tale of a woman returning to her childhood home in the Canadian wilderness in search of her lost father.

There’s a foreboding right from the very start of the novel as the prose keeps you very much captive inside the thoughts of the protagonist. And she’s a broody sort who becomes increasingly paranoid as the novel progresses. It does not end well for her. Or, perhaps it does. Hard to say.

What you can be sure of is that there’s an awful lot going on here in so short a book. As an experienced Atwood reader, I can see how all the elements that would make her later novels shine are there, buried in the dust of her early years as a novelist.

The novel’s central theme is identity, particularly identity formed by places and experiences in them as a child. The landscape itself is detached from the people who enter it at the start of the story. By the end, it has taken over. I couldn’t help thinking that this would make a good film. I think Meryl Streep or, if she’s busy, perhaps Kate Winslet could pull off the main character.

Well worth a read and a good, short introduction to Atwood.


I can’t believe I’m on this road again, twisting along past the lake where the white birches are dying, the disease now spreading up from the south, and I notice they now have sea-planes for hire.


This far into the book, some of the plot might be revealed. If you want to see the quote, click show


divorce is like an amputation; you survive but there’s less of you

I could hardly wait till i was so old i wouldn’t have to do this anymore


This might reveal the ending. If you want to see the quote, click show


0439 | Surfacing | Atwood | 69% | Good

Key: Legacy | Plot / toPic | Characterisation / faCts | Readability | Achievement | Style Read more about how I come up with my ratings

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  1. My favorite Atwood’s novel is “The Edible Woman” (which actually was her first published novel).Though I can’t explain exactly what I like about it so much, I reread it from time to time.

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