Cat s Eye is the story of Elaine Risley, a controversial painter who returns to Toronto, the city of her youth, for a retrospective of her art Engulfed by vivid images of the past, she reminisces about a trio of girls who initiated her into the fierce politics of childhood and its secret world of friendship, longing, and betrayal Elaine must come to terms with her own identity as a daughter, a lover, and artist, and woman but above all she must seek release from her haunting memories Disturbing, hilarious, and compassionate, Cat s Eye is a breathtaking novel of a woman grappling with the tangled knots of her life As a relative latecomer to the works of Margaret Atwood this was my fourth book in she continues to impress and engage immensely Cat s Eye has, like The Blind Assassin which it predates by around a decade memory and memories as its central narrative device Both novels have a central protagonist nearer to the end of their days than to the start looking back and confronting the memories from various periods in their earlier lives Ostensibly, that is as far as any similarity goes be As a relative latecomer to the works of Margaret Atwood this was my fourth book in she continues to impress and engage immensely Cat s Eye has, like The Blind Assassin which it predates by around a decade memory and memories as its central narrative device Both novels have a central protagonist nearer to the end of their days than to the start looking back and confronting the memories from various periods in their earlier lives Ostensibly, that is as far as any similarity goes beyond that the books bear s very little resemblance in either nature or narrative to each other.The very first page, indeed the opening paragraph, sets the scene, the tone and the theme this is a novel all about time, it s all about dimension and circularity This first page is so particularly well written, so compelling even by Atwood s high standards it defiantly draws the reader in, reels them in like an unsuspecting, helpless yet consenting catch, submissive on the end of Atwood s line Thereon in we learnabout the childhood, formative years and life of our main protagonist Elaine Risley latterly an artist, seemingly addressing her life through her work, making preparations for a retrospective of her paintings, whilst at the same time remembering and revisiting her past.The subsequent parts of the book concerning Risley s childhood are particularly strong, indeed outstanding these form the heart and the most powerful part of the novel Whilst this is clearly familiar territory for many writers, what Atwood gives us here is not the usual tired, clich d, staid, mildly diverting but rose tinted and empty nostalgia as you would expect from some, Atwood gives us farthan that Yes this is by definition of course a form of nostalgia of the best kind it has to be and it does provide us with some of the funniest work by Atwood that I have read thus far, nevertheless and nostalgia nothwithstanding underlying all this there is always a brooding presence, a sense of foreboding, a feeling of impending doom There s an expectation of a fall, of a downward trajectory always just on the horizon, always around the next corner, always just behind that door It has been noted by others in the past that Cat s Eye is a Lord of the Flies for girls For this novel is ultimately all about the scars, the fears, the hurts and the pains of childhood that in many cases stay with us throughout our lives indeed in some cases define the rest of our lives.This is the world of the playground bully, playground rules, unwritten codes of conduct and a childhood world where making one wrong social move can have dire and unspeakable consequences This is so very well written and portrayed by Atwood conveying a deeply disturbing picture of the world of growing up, trying to fit in in a world of covert bullying, perfidious and all pervading.It could be argued that this element to the novel presents what is essentially a Freudian world view and analysis all about the traumas, the mental scars of childhood remaining with us, affecting and determining our lives, defining our futures Tell me about your childhood as it were But I think what Atwood provides is somethingsophisticated and complex than that,profound and less simplistic There is much here about the compulsion to recognise, to acknowledge and to confront the demons of our childhood It does feel very much throughout this novel that there is the need for this confrontation, for resolution and for closure as to whether Atwood gives us this I will leave you to decide Perhaps, as in life or at least some lives the parts of this novel concerning childhood do seem to determine and define the remainder of the novel Whilst the passages concerning teenage years and adulthood in Cat s Eye are on the whole extremely well written and engaging, as you d expect from Atwood for the most part they don t have the same emotional impact and power as those concerning childhood It should be noted that there are apparently some elements contained herein from, or influenced by Atwood s early life, however she has repeatedly stressed that the plot is an entirely fictitious one This is not even close to being semi autobiographical.This is a novel about the circularity of life and of time this much is clear from the opening page It is about the ending s and the beginning s the beginning s and the ending s the child within us is always there, the past is always ever present, always with us Time is not a line but a dimension nothing goes away Whilst possibly not quite in the same league as The Blind Assassin or indeed The Handmaid s Tale this is undoubtedly a very fine book, Atwood writes so very well and with such skill Cat s Eye is clearly another important part of the hugely impressive Margaret Atwood literary canon and is not to be missed i know for a fact that books were written and published after this one, but i can t for the life of me understand why.come to my blog i know for a fact that books were written and published after this one, but i can t for the life of me understand why.come to my blog This is the middle of my life, I think of it as a place, like the middle of a river, the middle of a bridge, halfway across, halfway over I m supposed to have accumulated things by now possessions, responsibilities, achievements, experience and wisdom I m supposed to be a person of substance The scary thing is that you stay a child inside that accumulation of life You take your childhood with you when you enter the grown up world, and as much as you try to pretend that you are free and l This is the middle of my life, I think of it as a place, like the middle of a river, the middle of a bridge, halfway across, halfway over I m supposed to have accumulated things by now possessions, responsibilities, achievements, experience and wisdom I m supposed to be a person of substance The scary thing is that you stay a child inside that accumulation of life You take your childhood with you when you enter the grown up world, and as much as you try to pretend that you are free and light as a feather, you carry the heavy weight of having been a child wherever you go.This is the story of a grown up woman, an artist, who dares to go down memory lane and remember the abusive friendships, the feeling of dependence, of helplessness, of hatred and admiration merged into the odd feeling of wanting to belong even if belonging means being in acute pain It tells the everyday tale of a sensitive child under the spell of a bully It explores how selectively we can choose to forget in order to be able to live on, and how inconvenient it can be for us to suddenly remember what we chose not to know any You don t look back along time but down through it, like water Sometimes this comes to the surface, sometimes that, sometimes nothing Nothing goes away I loved this novel to bits when I first read it, and it scared me out of my comfort zone It was one of the most intensely revealing reflections on childhood and its impact on grown up life I have ever encountered, simply because the story is so common, and so universal, and so typical The idea of confronting a childhood bully with one s memories is terrifying, especially as one can never trust the mind to behave as a grown up when confronted with deeply hidden childhood fears and wishes A bullied child won t ever forget the feeling of powerlessness or the humiliation and the wish to change the pattern of perceived failure But the bully will have her own reality, unconnected to the all absorbing memories of the hurt child She will have her own version I am not the centre of her story, because she herself is that But I could give her something you can never have, except from another person what you look like from outside A reflection This is part of herself I could give back to her My guess is that most bullies are too one dimensional to accept a reflection of themselves that might not be favorable, and that it remains the role of the weaker andsensitiveintelligent human being to understand the mechanisms behind evil group behaviour Whoever cares the most will lose But that is only part of the truth Looking back with hindsight, a new pattern is formed, and the negative memories become fruitful for personal development.They are the roots for a rich inner life, and the message I read between the lines in Cat s Eye is that your experience can t be changed or undone, but it can be turned into creative power, and it can feed your understanding of the world It can help you keep your inner child active beyond childhood, and drive your ambition You can sculpt a life out of the clay you are given, and turn it into your individual artwork If you dare to look into the cat s eye of your memories, that is.You carry your cat s eye marbles with you, shiny, cold, hard, difficult to trade and play with, but beautiful and magical at the same time, a visual and tactile proof of your existence Recommended to those who are brave enough to face the true life of children, often too hard to retrospectively bear for grown ups I look at the progression of 5 star ratings by friends mostly women and wonder if it is a womanly weakness to rate a book 5 stars which deconstructs the world from the female perspective Is this visceral urge something to be ashamed of, something you must suppress to show due deference to standards of literary appraisal But then why don t I feel conflicted enough while handing out my 5 stars to those modern masterpieces written mostly by dead, white men All those narrative voices that b I look at the progression of 5 star ratings by friends mostly women and wonder if it is a womanly weakness to rate a book 5 stars which deconstructs the world from the female perspective Is this visceral urge something to be ashamed of, something you must suppress to show due deference to standards of literary appraisal But then why don t I feel conflicted enough while handing out my 5 stars to those modern masterpieces written mostly by dead, white men All those narrative voices that busy themselves with the righteous task of pondering the depths of colonialism and oppression and class conflict and what other sociopolitical fuckups have you while simultaneously omitting out one half of the human race s points of view books that throw in a woman character as the obligatory object of patronizing love or lust or as a lifeless plot device, turning her into a mere accessory meant to embellish the life of the male narrator whose word is the truth by default while the sanctity of all else is subject to skepticism The naked women are presented in the same manner as the plates of meat and dead lobsters, with the same attention to the play of candlelight on skin, the same lusciousness, the same sensuous and richly rendered detail, the same painterly delight in tactility They appear served up Or is this a failing of civilization that a large majority of readers will simply glance at that blurb or the reviews which make it sound as if this were solely about the private world of girls, spot that glaringfeminismlabel and dismiss the possibility of reading this One would think that even a literary treatment of the private world of girls is a subject so outside the sphere of all humanly concern that it warrants the level of universal apathy it generates Women are hard to keep track of, most of them They slip into other names, and sink without a trace This is not so much the story of an ageing female painter Elaine Risley a relic of the pre feminism mode of life told in snatches, as much as it is an account of the relationships which molded and shaped her character and the enduring trauma of childhood bullying which manifested itself in nearly all her life choices, flawed as they were Not so much a fictionalized outpouring of her discontent with her declining youth and whitening hair as much her rivetting blow by blow dissection of the world and the people around her through the years And because I know Atwood stringently avoids any associations with the term feminist or any group identity which seeks to shoehorn her writing into some exclusive compartment, I ll merely say it also includes some of the most cutting, precise and unbiased observations about every issue of major importance Wars, terrorism, racism, religious bigotry, sexism, misogyny, art and art criticism, motherhood, the politics of relationshipsyou name it and Elaine has startling new wisdom to offer on that topic, however time worn The world is being run by people my age, men my age, with falling out hair and health worries, and it frightens me When the leaders were older than me I could believe in their wisdom, I could believe they had transcended rage and malice and the need to be loved Now I know better I look at the faces in newspapers, in magazines, and wonder what greeds, what furies drive them onThe complexity of relationships between women of nearly all ages is often a difficult thing to fully comprehend let alone commit to paper Generally, we find it easier to communicate with men While with other women you are forever grasping at straws, unable to determine which layer of superficiality you are dealing with and which of your layers of feigned cordiality or fabricated fellow feeling may win their favor But Atwood, the mistress of the craft that she is, has brought the private, secretive world of female bondings alive and demolished one of the greatest pop culture stereotypes ever that of the mean girl So believe the reviewers who have confessed to having a Cordelia like frenemy in their lives someone who understood them better than a lot of people while simultaneously doling out emotional torment in devious ways I m no exception Once you come across a Cordelia in your life no matter how much you may have loathed her at times it s hard to dull the edges of the memory of your involvement with her She looms larger than life at the back of your mind and fades into the distance of years Try as you might you cannot forget her And neither could Elaine There is the same shame, the sick feeling in my body, the same knowledge of my own wrongness, awkwardness, weakness the same wish to be loved the same loneliness the same fear But these are not my own emotions anyThey are Cordelia s as they always were.