Elaine Risley, a painter, returns to Toronto to find herself overwhelmed by her past. Memories of childhood - unbearable betrayals and cruelties - surface relentlessly, forcing her to confront the spectre of Cordelia, once her best friend and tormentor, who has haunted her for forty years. 'Not since Graham Greene has a novelist captured so ...
Elaine Risley, a painter, returns to Toronto to find herself overwhelmed by her past. Memories of childhood - unbearable betrayals and cruelties - surface relentlessly, forcing her to confront the spectre of Cordelia, once her best friend and tormentor, who has haunted her for forty years. 'Not since Graham Greene has a novelist captured so forcefully the relationship between school bully and victim...Atwood's games are played, exquisitely, by little girls' LISTENER An exceptional novel from the winner of the 2000 Booker Prize
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Publishers Weekly, 1989-11-03 Atwood writes in an autobiographical vein about a middle-aged Canadian painter who is thrust into an extended reconsideration of her past, including one particularly strange friendship, while attending a retrospective of her work in Toronto. PW praised Atwood's incisiveness, saying that she ``takes the measure of a coercive, conformist society.'' (Dec.)
Publishers Weekly, 1989-01-13 Herself the daughter of a Canadian forest entomologist, Atwood writes in an autobiographical vein about Elaine Risley, a middle-aged Canadian painter (and daughter of a forest entomologist) who is thrust into an extended reconsideration of her past while attending a retrospective show of her work in Toronto, a city she had fled years earlier in order to leave behind painful memories. Most pointedly, Risley reflects on the strangeness of her long relations with Cordelia, a childhood friend whose cruelties, dealt lavishly to Risley, helped hone her awareness of our inveterate appetite for destruction even while we love, and are understood as characteristically femininea betrayal of other women that masks a ferocious betrayal of oneself. Atwood's portrayal of the friendship gives the novel its fraught and mysterious center, but her critical assessment of Cordelia and the ``whole world of girls and their doings'' also takes the measure of a coercive, conformist society (not quite as extreme as in the futuristic The Handmaid's Tale ). Emerging ``the stronger'' for her latecoming understanding of herself, Risley in the final pages rises above the ties that bound her, transcendently alive to the possibilities of ``light, shining out in the midst of nothing.'' BOMC main selection. (Feb.)
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