Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is my first foray into Atwood and I really enjoyed it. I was drawn into Joan’s life and into her Gothic Romance which runs through Atwood’s narrative.
However I was expecting a little more drama and suspense. The blurb on my edition made it sound as if Joan had many parallel lives where she was enacting scandalous lives of excitement a la The Talented Mr Ripley. This is not the case, she merely changes names a few times and the big ‘fake death’ plot is really a frame for the narrative of Joan’s life rather than the main plot of the story, it takes up a few chapters and that’s it. Her other ‘lives’ ie her fat young self and the more confident grown up others are a bit obvious and, really, don’t we all have skeleton’s in our closets like a ‘fat’ period, an ‘ugly’ period etc in our adolescence? I sympathised with her at these points, but I wasn’t shocked by her ‘secret life’.
There is also a point about midway through the narrative where either Atwood, Joan or myself becomes very confused about what timeline they’re in. Contact with Arthur is made but I wasn’t sure when or where until I’d finished the chapter. While this could be a modern twist it appears in an otherwise easy to follow narrative and seems out of place.
As Joan writes her Gothic Romance she mentions that the new popular trend is to add images of the occult. Naturally Atwood then herself begins to slip the occult into Joan’s real life and these images are eerie but, I think, mostly unnecessary unless Joan is supposed to be sliding into some sort of hysterical breakdown: in which case it is unsustained and erratic. I felt Atwood was aiming for Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’ atmosphere but was falling short into Joan’s own romances.
Yet I was still involved in Joan’s life, her problems with her mother and her lack of ability to really connect with the men in her life. This was the plot I enjoyed as the fake death plot didn’t really grip me and I thought Arthur’s activism was as weak Joan did.
After reading some of the negative reviews on here suggesting this is a weak novel compared to others I am excited to read more of Atwood’s work, I enjoyed this book despite the minor lapse and my own expectations so I’m sure I’ll love her other novels!
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How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’d have liked to give Moran’s ‘How to be a Woman’ another star because there was a large majority of it that I LOVED. However, it is also problematic and, after reading other people’s reviews, I completely understand because some of the ‘deeper’ feminist issues (pornography, strip clubs and the big questions ‘but what have women actually done?!’) are tackled in a way that I perhaps don’t 100% agree with.
It would be better titled ‘How to be a White Middle Class Woman’, not catchy so I see why they went with just woman. As a white working class feminist who has worked her way up to middle class, like Moran, I naturally identify with a lot of the ‘real life issues’ she deals with: waxing, fashion, children vs work. And at this point in my life I need a grown up to be honest with me about this kind of thing. But I can appreciate that this leaves out a HUGE portion of the feminist world. So if you’re not a white middle class woman or you’re not trying to identify with one then this is probably not for you and hopefully one day I’ll read something to recommend to you because there’s obviously a gap in that market.
Moran’s writing style is chatty, friendly and painfully candid. She discusses her abortion, marriage, childbirth and childhood in a way akin to the drunk and honest conversations I have with my girlfriends (and I’m sure it’s not just Moran and myself who talk like this!)
In terms of the wider feminist issues lots of people have already quoted the dodgy issues. ‘What have women done for the last 100,000 years’ well a shit tonne of stuff, actually, but we never hear about it because history is written by winners and, as Moran points out, winners are men for pretty much 100,000 years. But I don’t think this means we just sat around with cystitis like Moran suggests. Sure the female population dealt with it but they also cured diseases, wrote novels and pamphlets, invented and experimented. But patriarchal societies ignore this stuff, doesn’t it! So that was an issue for me, as was her dismissal of exotic dancers as letting the side down. If you want to dance for money and it’s your choice then that’s up to you. If you’re forced by society, economy etc then that’s bad. But I’d never blame the victim of these situations and I was shocked Moran did.
But I don’t think you ever 100% agree with another person on ALL the world’s problems, so these are things you as a reader can hash out yourself and I wouldn’t dismiss the book as a whole for these potholes.
Overall I really enjoyed it, I looked over the aforementioned issues for the reasons above and I would highly recommend it to any woman in my situation. Fresh and new from Uni’ a bit lost, a bit confused and totally shocked about the realities of being an adult woman.
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bThe Yard by Alex Grecian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really didn’t expect this to be as fun as it was, just a bit of gore to satisfy my literary blood lust after finishing Game of Thrones, and yet I was hooked!
Though the spoken language often comes off a little stilted the actual plot line is gripping, engaging and unpredictable. Revealing the murderer in the first few chapters is a bold move by Grecian but I felt it paid of as I rooted for Inspector Day and his team to steer clear of the cop killer!
There are several other story lines about other murderers and kidnappers than entwined themselves with the main idea of ‘find Inspector Little’s killer’ and I thought they fit well, keeping up the pace when clues were slow to be found.
The writing isn’t perfect but first his first foray into novel writing it’s a pretty good start and I’d love to read move about 1880s Scotland Yard from his authorial perspective.
If you liked Ripper Street (BBC) and can’t wait for the next series then this is a good stand in!
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my mum is sat in the same room pls don’t post porn!
i see you victoria and you’d better not!
Now they’re having a stand off