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Comment: Hardback book. Doubleday 1989 First Edition. Ex-library copy. Pages clean and bright. Some very light soiling on a few pages at beginning of book. Mylar-covered dust jacket with shelf wear. Spine has been repaired. Book #7028
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Cat's eye Hardcover – February 1, 1989

203 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Herself the daughter of a Canadian forest entomologist, Atwood writes in an autobiographical vein about Elaine Risley, a middle-aged Canadian painter (and daughter of a forest entomologist) who is thrust into an extended reconsideration of her past while attending a retrospective show of her work in Toronto, a city she had fled years earlier in order to leave behind painful memories. Most pointedly, Risley reflects on the strangeness of her long relations with Cordelia, a childhood friend whose cruelties, dealt lavishly to Risley, helped hone her awareness of our inveterate appetite for destruction even while we love, and are understood as characteristically femininea betrayal of other women that masks a ferocious betrayal of oneself. Atwood's portrayal of the friendship gives the novel its fraught and mysterious center, but her critical assessment of Cordelia and the "whole world of girls and their doings" also takes the measure of a coercive, conformist society (not quite as extreme as in the futuristic The Handmaid's Tale ). Emerging "the stronger" for her latecoming understanding of herself, Risley in the final pages rises above the ties that bound her, transcendently alive to the possibilities of "light, shining out in the midst of nothing." BOMC main selection.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-- When Elaine Risley returns to her hometown, Toronto, for a retrospective show of her paintings, she finds more than critical acclaim. Local streets, long-gone landmarks, and elements in the paintings themselves trigger memories of her transient childhood traveling across Canada with her entomologist father; of adolescence marred by the cruel teasing of three friends; and of love affairs with her first art teacher and mentor, and with Jon, her first husband. In addition, Elaine is haunted by thoughts of her chief tormentor/best friend, Cordelia, whom she last saw years ago in a mental institution. Atwood's focus on the inner landscape of Elaine's youth and early adult years will appeal to older teenagers.
- Alice Conlon, University of Houston
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 446 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1st edition (February 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00005VJIC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (203 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,054,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

91 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Ratmammy VINE VOICE on September 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
CAT'S EYE by Margaret Atwood
In CAT'S EYE, Margaret Atwood tells the story of Elaine Risley, an avant-garde painter who finds herself reflecting on her tumultuous childhood when she returns to her home town of Toronto for a retrospective art exhibit. It has been many years since she set foot in Canada, where she grew up moving from place to place, due to her father's career as an entomologist. The story is told in flashbacks, as the story of her current life as a painter, on her second marriage, is told in-between the story of her childhood. Two plot lines run parallel to each other, until the very end when both the past and her present collide.
Elaine's first years were spent travelling with her family, never having a best friend. It is all she yearns for, to have a real girl friend. All she had during those early years was her brother, who as he grew older drifted away from her, leaving her alone to fend for herself. When her father finally settles down and buys a house, she begins to make her first set of real friends. However, how does one define a friend? Elaine becomes part of a group of girls that seem to be living under the steel hand of Cordelia, the ringleader. Cordelia treats them all as if she was a dictator and they were her subjects, but her treatment of Elaine is totally unforgivable. Elaine is tormented to a point where her own mental health is jeopardized, and at one point one wonders how she ever survived.
But survive she did. As Elaine tells her story, we see how she developed from a very insecure and needy young girl to a woman who understands why she made the choices she did as a child, and became a very successful painter, secure in who she was and where she had come from.
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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful By debra crosby on October 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
Other reviewers have used the word "haunting" to describe this novel, and I must agree. This book stayed with me long after I finished it, and compelled me to read even when I was too tired to do so. At first, I couldn't decide whether I liked it or not. Elaine, the protagonist, does not come across as a strong character; indeed, she is almost painfully introspective and introverted. Her inner life is rich, however, and her ruminations about her family and friends are quite perceptive. So I kept reading and allowed Elaine to reveal herself to me. As a girl, Elaine grows up in a family that is unusual, but loving and supportive of her. Her "friends" are another story. I don't think I've ever read anything that describes so well the cruelty that young girls are capable of. The social and psychological aspects of growing up are no better shown than here. However, this is the strongest part of the book. Elaine's adult life, colored as it was by her past, is not as richly portrayed, but she remains an interesting person. Her art is her catharsis, as personal and as difficult for an outsider to understand as is the artist herself. This book is an eerie coming-of-age tale, told with poetic beauty and sorrow.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By J. T. Towers on August 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
Top 50. I've probably read this book three times. The first time, I was about 21 years old and maybe not far enough yet out of the hard kind of high school years that those of us glasses-wearing skinny smart loner girls have if we're not careful. One of the creepiest, scariest, saddest books I've ever encountered. Atwood gets inside the skin of a teenage girl not only scorned, but tortured by her peers. Gripping, and makes huge demands on one's empathy, compassion, and patience for the main character. Great moments of beauty, but real encounters with evil, apathy, and terror.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Claudia on December 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
This multi-layered book about how childhood experiences impact on the rest of life's journey, tackles a subject rarely explored. This subject is how truly horrifying children's emotional cruelty to one another can be. Sure there have been lots of stories about English boys beating each other up, and inflicting nasty physical tortures on one another, but this book is a rarity because it tells of how little girls, as young as nine, inflict emotional torture on each other. There is much more to this book however. Cat's eye explores the whole life journey of a woman after these miserable childhood experiences, and her preoccupation throughout life with the "friend" who was the ringleader of these children's "reindeer games". None of what I have written so far describes how magnificent the prose and poetry of this book is. It explores many other topics such as art, marriage and old age. It is very much a novel that is primarily of interest to women which may be why it didn't win the Booker Prize. It's my favorite book in the world, except perhaps for the Robber Bride also by Atwood.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By on October 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Generally, I like to be analytical and logical when writing about literature. This is what we are taught at university, after all. This novel, however, left me so astounded that I couldn't even talk about it to friends. I finished it more than six months ago and, in a way, have been grappling with it ever since. Scenes from it seem to randomly invade my mind. Surely if a mere work of fiction can hold this power for such a length of time, it must be worth more than the sum of its parts.
The only point I really wish to make about it, is that there should be no gender discrimination in recommending this novel. Why anybody should feel that it is meant for a female audience is beyond me. Within the extremely rich layers of its narrative, the novel reveals essential truths about the way in which the process of growing up affects everybody. The fact that the main characters are women is simply not relevant beyond the fact that the narrator herself is a woman. Margaret Atwood is far too great a writer to have confined to such banalities.
"Haunting" is possibly the best way to describe this work and I am sure that every perceptive reader will be haunted by the way in which Elaine's experiences are eventually reflected in her art. It is, quite simply, one of the greatest novels I have ever read. But then again, every Atwood novel I read (and I have read them all) just confirms my opinion that she is one of the greatest writers of all time.
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