Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood

Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood

Joan Foster faked her death and escaped a dull marriage where she didn't recognize herself.  Someone was threatening her life, leaving dead animals on her doorstep.  It could be the man she was having an affair with, or a reporter digging up material to blackmail her with, or an old boyfriend or maybe it was someone closer to her.  Joan realizes she needs to escape and start over to find out who she really is.

Joan grew up an overweight, fat girl, hated by her mother and she never told her husband the truth about herself.  She shed the weight and left her childhood home and never looked back.  She made her living writing bodice ripping, gothic romances.  She wrote under a pen name, kept a separate account and lived a second life until she writes Lady Oracle.  Lady Oracle creates a frenzy and Joan becomes famous and then she becomes unglued.

Joan spent her life reinventing herself over and over.  Joan is a version of every woman.  Each of us has many different selves set within the whole being which makes up who we are.  We are different people when we are in different roles and yet still the same person.  Lady Oracle is a fascinating look at the multiple inner lives of a woman and how she comes to terms with herself.

Atwood has created a funny, artistic and entertaining novel.  From the very first sentence, "I planned my death carefully; unlike my life, which meandered along from one thing to another, despite my feeble attempts to control it," (Pg. 3) to it's last, Atwood holds your rapt attention and keeps you turning the pages.

Atwood includes excepts of the romance novels her heroine, Joan is writing.  Joan lives vicariously through her characters and I couldn't get enough of them.  Lady Oracle is Margaret Atwood's third novel written in 1976.  She is an excellent writer and everyone should read at least one book written by her.  I have read The Handmaid's Tale which is excellent but very different from Lady Oracle.  Both are deep, multilayered and powerful in their own right.  Atwood just wows me.  WOW.

Atwood explores some very important themes in Lady Oracle, like obesity, spirituality, relationships, the power of self and multiplicity, and abuse.  Lady Oracle is the perfect book to discuss in a book club.

Note to self:  Read more Atwood books.

So how would you fake your death??