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Surfacing Paperback – March 16, 1998
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“One of the most important novels of the twentieth century…utterly remarkable.” New York Times Book Review
“Atwood probes emotions with X-ray precision. All in all, it’s an exhilarating performance.” Globe and Mail
“A brilliant tour-de-force.” Winnipeg Free Press
“Atwood’s powers of observation are disconcertingly acute, combining an ear for the vernacular with an eye for the jugular.” Time
“Quite simply superb.” Maclean’s
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
Part detective novel, part psychological thriller, "Surfacing is the story of a talented woman artist who goes in search of her missing father on a remote island in northern Quebec. Setting out with her lover and another young couple, she soon finds herself captivated by the isolated setting, where a marriage begins to fall apart, violence and death lurk just beneath the surface, and sex becomes a catalyst for conflict and dangerous choices. "Surfacing is a work permeated with an aura of suspense, complex with layered meanings, and written in brilliant, diamond-sharp prose. Here is a rich mine of ideas from an extraordinary writer about contemporary life and nature, families and marriage, and about women fragmented...and becoming whole.
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Top Customer Reviews
I recently experienced this book as part of a library's book group discussion (although I first read it decades ago). In this recent discussion, there were a variety of responses as to the "main" themes of each reader. For myself I saw one prevailing theme (because it was a personal issue: MY prevailing theme). The director of the discussion saw a different theme that, to her, colored the narrative. It is certainly a very personal book to each reader.
I was also surprised (stunned) that many of the group did not appear that evening because (they said) they did not "get" the book, or they disliked it, or didn't finish it.
I have read mostly all of Atwood, but to me, this will always be her BEST and most COMPLEX offering.
Surfacing is about an unnamed woman who returns to her hometown in Canada. She is searching for her father in a cabin in the woods where she was raised. She is on this journey with her lover and another married couple. As the days progress, this woman finds herself returning to nature, in every sense of that word. She becomes primal, driven mad, as she returns to this original state. It's not happy book. It's heartbreaking and beautiful. There's a purity to her madness, to this return to nature as she slowly loses her friends, her family, her memories, her sense of self.
It's not a long novel at 208 pages. I finished it in a single day. Something about this novel pulled me in and I felt compelled to finish it in a day. It felt wrong to read this in anything larger than single sitting. As if I were betraying the novel, it's unnamed female protagonist. I needed to follow her on this journey, to see it to the end, to be done with it. I don't think I could ever read this work again. It's too intense, too heart-breaking.
This book is definitely worth reading, but it's not for everyone. I think you have to be in the mood for something like this, you have to want to read Atwood. And unless you've read a book by her, it's difficult to explain what this means. What it means to read an Atwood story or novel. Five stars.