A Review of “Cat’s Eye” by Margaret Atwood

I finished reading Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood yesterday while on my way home from San Francisco on the BART. I’ve been reading it for a couple of weeks, and even halfway through it had been debating blogging about it because it was so good.

Here I am.

First of all, I was enthralled with how poetic the prose is in the story. It honestly made me start waxing poetic in my head just from reading it, except in a less smooth and subtle way than Atwood does.

Secondly, the book says so much about women and how we relate to each other. It is so honest that it can bring back memories much like how Elaine had to have triggers for her to remember things that happened in the past. I began remembering things that “best friends” had done in the past in immaturity and imitation, and how this kind of treatment leaves you bitter and thick-skinned, which makes it more likely you’ll turn around and do it to someone else. I was amazed at how well I could relate to Elaine and her experiences, how she felt and reacted to her situations, and what she thought about returning to her hometown. I also immensely understood her feelings toward Cordelia, how she loved her but at the same time held malice and hate in her heart for her as well.

There is also some commentary on feminism and what it means to be a woman, and how it changed throughout her life. I related to her comments on feminists who thought men were evil, and that being a married woman was somehow bad, referring to nuclear families as “nukes”, or that shaving was conformative and made you not a woman.

Elaine says “…these meetings make me nervous, and I don’t understand why. I don’t say much, I am awkward and uncertain, because whatever I do say might be the wrong thing. I have not suffered enough, I haven’t paid my dues, I have no right to speak. I feel as if I’m standing outside a closed door while decisions are being made, disapproving judgments are being pronounced, inside, about me. At the same time I want to please. Sisterhood is a difficult concept for me…Brotherhood is not.”

I understand this well, especially when she says about how she never can tell whether another woman likes her or not, but when she was with boys or men she could tell how they felt about her.

It’s hard for me to articulate exactly why this book is so good without spoiling the story, but I think it is a must-read for anyone. Women can find why we treat each other the way we do, and it’s an eye-opener…something that we can all change in ourselves. I think men would find it insightful to why women treat other women the way they do, and even why they treat men the way they do. I think I can effectively add this book to my list of top favorites, and tell everyone that they should read it if they have the chance. I might add more to this review as I think more about the book, but it’s definitely something going on my “want to re-read” because it is simply excellent.

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