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Bodily Harm Paperback – April 13, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 291 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; 1st Anchor Books ed edition (April 13, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385491077
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385491075
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #596,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is a story about one of today's women...Bodily Harm is strong stuff, and the writing is nearly flawless."
--People

"It knocked me out. Margaret Atwood seems to be able to do just about everything: people, places, problems, a perfect ear, an exactly right voice."
--Anatole Broyard, The New York Times

"Romance and adventure by a female Graham Greene at his peak."
--Marilyn French, author of The Women's Room

"Superior writing, terrifying suspense."
--The Atlantic Monthly

"Secures her place in the upper ranks of important novelists."
--Cosmopolitan

From the Publisher

New in this edition: a Reader's Companion to Bodily Harm--ideal for discussion groups

"This is a story about one of today's women...Bodily Harm is strong stuff, and the writing is nearly flawless."
--People

"It knocked me out. Margaret Atwood seems to be able to do just about everything: people, places, problems, a perfect ear, an exactly right voice."
--Anatole Broyard, The New York Times

"Romance and adventure by a female Graham Greene at his peak."
--Marilyn French, author of The Women's Room

"Superior writing, terrifying suspense."
--The Atlantic Monthly

"Secures her place in the upper ranks of important novelists."
--Cosmopolitan


More About the Author

MARGARET ATWOOD, whose work has been published in over thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid's Tale, her novels include Cat's Eye, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; and her most recent, Oryx and Crake, shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize. She lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.

Customer Reviews

I did not like the main character.
D. Bertola
Though I wouldn't consider this my favorite Atwood novel, it is a good one, nonetheless.
Amazon Customer
I didn't put it down, but kept reading.
Lee Armstrong

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Auliya on July 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Alright, maybe you have to be extremely sophisticated to understand this book. Or maybe I just wasn't up to the task. I adore Atwood's work, largely speaking. I love the play on gender issues, the windows onto the character's personal worlds, the suspense and tension Atwood can introduce and tease into page-turners... But this book? Maybe it's because it spent so much time developing a "politics" sub-plot, or because it took place on an island that was difficult for me to render inside my head... but I just never understood what was going on. Never exactly understood, never could get "connected" enough with anything to care. That's so weird, since I get completely wrapped up in her other stories and novels, and I've read them all. I don't want to give this book a thumbs down, for fear that it's my own lack of skill *as a reader* that made the book so opaque and boring... but at least this review might give you some information pertaining to the apparent difference in this work from Atwood's others, you know?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
Though I wouldn't consider this my favorite Atwood novel, it is a good one, nonetheless. Atwood has a way of involving you with her characters, even if you don't necessarily like them. I couldn't put this book down, because I was so intent on finding out the fate of the heroine. Part mystery and part romance but all introspective, I'd recommend it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Cipriano on February 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this novel on many levels. It is a great story, skilfully woven, laced with trademark Atwood satiric wit and all of the brand-name dropping you've come to expect: Drano, Holiday Inn, McDonald's, Elastoplast, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Bank of Nova Scotia, Chatelaine magazine, Ovaltine, Crest toothpaste, and not just soup, but Campbell's Chicken Noodle. I love how she does this, it seems so... Canadian!
The strength of Bodily Harm is the way Atwood delves deep into the psyche of the protagonist, the young female Toronto journalist, Rennie Wilford. Flashback portions reveal Rennie's history, connecting us to her narrow/stifled/religiously-hypocritical upbringing in backwater Griswold Ontario. It's a history she resents. Flashbacks illuminate her relationship history also. We really get to KNOW Rennie, and the more light that Atwood throws across this life, the more Rennie emerges as someone unfulfilled at her core.
And now Rennie's life is on the fritz. She is coming to terms with her partial mastectomy and the recent breakup with Jake, two problems that she imagines are directly related to each other. She becomes obsessed with the word "malignant" and feels that everyone dear to her (even her own body) is rejecting her. On top of this, someone has just broken into her apartment and, instead of robbing her, has left behind an ominous threatening message.
Change of scenery is badly needed.
So Rennie accepts a Caribbean assignment to the island of St. Antoine, and now comes the part of the story that could be summarized by saying "Shoulda stayed at home!"
This "tropical paradise" is really an economically depressed dump! And her small-town Ontario naivete is no match for the shifty characters she meets on this island.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 11, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
At first I did not like this book and almost put it down after the first few chapters, too much jumping around from past to present. Then it started to entice me as it got more and more personal with the character. The character reveals her secrets and feelings and it almost leaves you feeling guilty of voyeurism. I at first thought the jumping around back and forth with background on the character to be confusing, then I started noticing that the past and the present action all tied in with relevance. This book is a hard read, but well worth it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "cilice" on June 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
Although I have not read many Atwood novels, when I pick up one of her books I expect to be provoked intellectually and emotionally. Bodily Harm kept me reading well into the night, and I was amazed at Atwood's ability to write so evocatively. I noticed early on that while I did not like Rennie, the main character, I did empathize with her. Before breast cancer hits her, Rennie is the 'every woman' and not in a positive sense. Breast cancer and the ensuing chaos in her life leads her to question her purpose as a survivor. The theme of finding a purpose in the midst of tragedy is used often in popular fiction, and Atwood does a good job with it. The synopsis of this book sounds trite, but in actually, the book is very dense and stimulating. It is replete with symbolism and meaning, and I will be reading Bodily Harm again.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By e. verrillo on September 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
Bodily Harm is one of those rare books which is almost impossible to evaluate. On the one hand, Atwood's prose is flawless. (You really cannot complain.) The plot is excellent, and the "back story" is quite compelling. The title manages to cover all bases - the "bodily harm" serving to cover the main character's (Rennie's) breast cancer, her abuses at the hands of her boyfriend (cleverly not described as abuses), her wretched childhood and then onward and upward through hard pornography, Caribbean revolution and the continuing "bodily harm" perpetuated on third world nations by "sweet Canadians" and their counterparts down here in the belly of the beast. Nevertheless, this book fails to live up to its title and to its potential.

Where Atwood falls down is in the way she has structured her novel. The flashbacks into her main character's past had an appeal at the beginning of the novel, and served to thoroughly "peg" her personality, but eventually they slowed down the action - and right at the worst possible moments. (Do we really need a boyfriend flashback when her life is in danger?)The device gets so old towards the dramatic climax, that you may be tempted to throw the book down in disgust.

But you won't. You will continue reading (because the climax really is dramatic) until you reach the last page, when you will be tempted to burn it. Because after countless pages in which Atwood devotes herself to laying out the inner contradictions of her main character, the horrific challenges to her shallow, self-absorbed "life so far," Atwood - unforgivably - does not devote more than a single sentence to the transformation which finally takes place in Rennie's soul (and long overdue I might add).
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