‘Lady Oracle’ – Margaret Atwood
From fat girl to thin, from red hair to mud brown, from London to Toronto, from Polish count to radical husband, from writer of romances to distinguished poet – Joan Foster is utterly confused by her life of multiple identities. She decides to escape to an Italian hill town to take stock of her life. But first, she must organise her own death…
The opening of the novel is certainly gripping and immediately the reader wants to know why the narrator has planned their own death. It is this starting point that draws you in, but I’m afraid this intensity doesn’t really last beyond the first few chapters.
The novel is basically about the life of the narrator, leading up to present day where the story began with revealing they had planned their own death. The plot then moves forward and shows how the narrator has dealt with this new-found isolation and whether she has in fact succeeded in fooling the world.
Whilst reading this book I was hoping for something more than just a recollection of the character’s life. True, it is evident that the narrator is quite a paranoid person and the opening of the story makes more and more sense as you read on, but I found myself seeking something beyond this recollection. Perhaps a bit more action rather than reflection.
The narrator is a writer and Atwood includes excerpts from the books that she is writing. These are quite entertaining to read and provide a light-hearted escape from the development of the story, even if the books that are written are just “trashy novels”. As a result, I found the main story line a little suffocating because of the emotions that the character professes and the negativity, particularly surrounding her growing up and her relationship with her mother.
This is the second Margaret Atwood novel I have read and I am convinced there are better ones out there (like ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’). Many people have told me how great her novels are so I think I have just chosen a spanner in the works. It is not one I would recommend and think I need to read some more of her works to get a better flavour of her writing style.