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Lady Oracle Paperback – April 13, 1998

4.1 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A wonderfully unpretentious comic romp. A fine novel: inventive, funny, and a pleasure to read.”
–Mordecai Richler

“Read it for its gracefulness, for its good story, for its help in your fantasy life.”
Globe and Mail

“Brilliant and funny, I can’t tell you how exhilarating it was to read it – everything works. An extraordinary book.”
–Joan Didion

“A haunting and humorous work.”
Toronto Star

“A striking work.”
Time

“Hilarious, touching, full of wonderfully skewered insights, and very much faster than a speeding bullet.”
Cosmopolitan

“Nervy, mordant, funny and brilliant.”
Ms.

“Immensely enjoyable.”
San Francisco Examiner

“Funny, poignant and briskly energetic.”
Newsweek

“A very funny novel, lightly told with wry detachment and considerable art.”
Washington Post Book World

“A rich, subtle, deep, delicate, nourishing book. It’s all joy, but it stays with you. She has things to tell us.”
Philadelphia Enquirer

“Marvellously funny.”
Maclean’s --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

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

"Funny, poignant, and briskly energetic."
--Newsweek

"A rich, subtle, deep, delicate, nourishing book. It's all joy, but it stays with you. She has things to tell us."
--Philadelphia Inquirer

"A really gifted writer...alternately satirical and lyrical."
--Time

"A very funny novel, lightly told with wry detachment and considerable art."
--Washington Post Book World

"Brilliant and funny. I can't tell you how exhilarating it was to read it --everything works. An extraordinary book."
--Joan Didion

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; 1st Anchor books ed edition (April 13, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385491085
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385491082
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #447,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"Lady Oracle"'s Joan is one of my favorite of Margaret Atwood's heroines. She overcomes the problem of her body image and an unhealthy relationship with her mother with a great sense of humor and a definite mind of her own. My favorite thing about this book is the way Joan weaves her own story into the historical romances she churns out for money. I also love the cynical depiction of the literary world which creates her accidental cult hit "Lady Oracle" out of an experiment in Automatic Writing. The men in Joan's life don't know what to make of her, and their attempts to fit her into their predetermined roles never fail to backfire with hilarious results. As always, Margaret Atwood is right on target.
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By A Customer on November 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is most definately one of my all time favourite books. The way Margaret Atwood examines how pre-occupied our society is about body image is both halirious, sad and unbelievably realistic. She is able to demonstrate how we all struggle to find our identity while at the same time are terrified to come to terms with our true selves, past and present. Despite the fact, the protagonist went to ridiculous extremes to hide her past, I felt I could relate to her situation. This is a wonderful book for anyone who has struggled with their self image. It is also a great read for anyone who loves to laugh!
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Format: Paperback
_Lady Oracle_ is, essentially, a novel told mostly as a huge flashback. That said, it was quite enjoyable, even if the plot didn't make complete sense. The main character, Joan Foster, fakes her own death to escape the stresses of her current life, and moves to Italy, from where she tells us the majority of the story. After a traumatic childhood, and having grown dangerously overweight (which she did as a psychological weapon against her mother), Joan's Aunt Lou dies, leaving her a substantial amount of money on the condition that Joan lose 100 pounds. Joan loses the weight, ultimately causing more problems with her mother (because her mother wanted to be the one to get Joan to slim down), ultimately culminating with her mother attempting (and failing) to stab her. Joan moves to England and winds up mistress to an exiled, reactionary Polish count. From here she begins writing trashy Gothic romances for a living under the pseudonym of L. Delacourt. She later meets and marries Arthur, a manic socialist (or something) activist. Eventually she has a book published under her own name, a collection of poetry entitled (coincidentally enough) Lady Oracle, which becomes an immediate cult classic. This book eventually leads to her faked death, as her celebrity leads her to (among other things) an affair with an avante-garde artist who calls himself the Royal Porcupine, and an ex-CBC anchor intent on blackmailing her.
It struck me, though, that Joan doesn't really seem to believe in much of anything. She goes through the motions for people to make them happy. She is whatever those around her want her to be. In fact, the only thing she ever seems to do of her own volition is fake her death. Initiative is not on Joan Foster's agenda. Neither is truth. One wonders a bit if anything is.
In any case, _Lady Oracle_ is good, but it's nowhere near as good as _The Handmaid's Tale_. If you haven't read the latter already, I highly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
Lady Oracle / 0-553-37781-7

Like many of Atwood's characters, the main character of Lady Oracle suffers from an unhappy childhood, this time at the hands of a neurotic mother who frequently berates her daughter for failing to live up to her expectations. The result is a fractured personality - many different personas that have to be juggled regularly, and with increasing difficulty.

This fractured woman struggles with her relationships and her jobs, and how they affect her identity. Does her success at writing fluffy romance novels make her a less serious, worthwhile human being? Does her success at writing deep, meaningful, feminist poetry make her a less valuable spouse to her husband? Her romances are shallow, and she seeks out men who define her in contrast to themselves. She allows others to define her because, increasingly, she cannot define herself. As the novel winds down, we venture tentatively into the Atwood meme of insanity - are the events narrated to the us merely a product of a deranged mind on the part of the main character? We do not know.

I really love Atwood's writing, and own nearly all of her novels, but I will admit that Lady Oracle is not my favorite. The writing and story are, for me, strangely forgettable - even after re-reading the book recently in order to write this review, I find that much of the book did not leave a lasting impression on me, unlike her other, more recent works. "Lady Oracle" is an older work, and perhaps that is why it doesn't have the same grip on me. I recommend it, but only after you have read her more recent works.

~ Ana Mardoll
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By A Customer on May 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
Well I went to Canada and figured trying out a Margaret Atwood would be appropriate. This novel reminds me of good John Irving. It combines a healthy amount of plot to keep things moving, along with quirky / interesting characters that remain just normal and developed enough to avoid becoming farcical. Moreover, the narrator is a strong central figure that ties things together and keeps the book focused. Finally, the narrator goes through introspection and change, and Atwood gently guides the reader there via use of a "story within a story" that is never overbearing. I know I didn't pick up on all of the symbolism and "deeper meanings" of Joan, but I know I enjoyed being along for the ride with her. Very much recommended for the thoughtful reader.
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