Margaret Atwood,
Cat's Eye
(Doubleday, 1989;
Anchor, 1998)

I picked up Cat's Eye because I was so consumed by the characterization in Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride. (Imagine a novel that could transport me beyond my strong emotions for the characters in The Robber Bride.) Our heroine, Elaine, was a drifter in early elementary school, until she become involved in a clique of girls lead by Cordelia. The pain Cordelia inflicts on the young Elaine is insufferable (but Elaine desperately wanted her approval), and in many ways, it will remind most readers of at least portions of their school-years experiences.

The story of Cat's Eye is told in the present tense, when Elaine is a successful artist, and the school-day times with Cordelia are told as flashbacks. This helps the reader, because they know that Elaine survived the torment to make something of her life.

Personally, I adore Elaine as an icon, because she sees her works as pieces of art, not as the feminist icons that her fans want to define her by. I wonder how much of Elaine's sentiment about being a reluctant feminist icon reflects Atwood's true feelings about how her literary works are interpreted.

Overall, this is a brilliant literary masterpiece, especially for any woman who experienced elementary and junior high school at the hands of a clique of girls. Highly recommended -- this is powerful stuff.

by Jessica Lux-Baumann
17 June 2006

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