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.
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