Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Lady Oracle

Listening to:

Handel’s Il Pastor fido: Hunting scene - March: Airs pour les chasseurs I & II

Just read:

Margaret Atwood, Lady Oracle.

This is an entertaining, though rather slight, novel about a woman who leads an eventful life, culminating in the faking of her own death. This is not a spoiler, because she narrates the novel and tells you exactly this in the novel’s very first paragraph.

The bulk of the novel is “flashback”: letting the reader in on the course of events that led to this sorry state of affairs. The story of the woman’s life starts with early childhood in Toronto, and the girl’s dysfunctional relationship with her mother. This stuff is all very vivid, as coming-of-age stories often are I suppose.

The woman’s teenage years and early adulthood are also compelling, what with it being all about escaping the parental nest, having her first love affairs and discovering her life skills.

The novel slowly shifts gears from this point, with the narrator’s relationship with her husband coming to the fore. Though there are still occasional moments of humour, it’s not as entertaining as it had been earlier. The woman gets all angsty, and the eventual crisis that prompts the death-faking seems pretty unbelievable.

I read the bulk of this while on a plane from Canberra to Sydney, and then on a bus doing the opposite journey. I enjoyed it, but I reckoned it ended weakly, and I’m not sure I’d give it much more than 6½ or 7 out of 10.