"I had broken out; from what, or into what, I didn't know. Though I wasn't at all certain why I had been acting this way, I had at least acted."
You can probably guess where I'm going with this.
So. I got Maddaddam out of the library and accrued massive late fees because someone reserved it and I hadn't read it, and I didn't even like it that much. I mean, it was ok, but in no way deserved the build up I gave it, and it wasn't worth the late fees.* One of the reasons I couldn't really be bothered to read it was because, at around the same time, I found The Edible Woman in a charity shop and, because there are a few authors who I automatically buy the books of when I see them, straight into my hands it went. It was much more portable than the massive hardback of Maddaddam, but it was also a lot more interesting. At least to me.
The Edible Woman is Atwood's first published novel (although, according to the foreword, not the first one she wrote) and in some ways it shows. The symbolism is a tiny bit heavy handed, and there were parts where I thought she could probably have said the same thing with less words, but overall, it's still a better debut novel than, you know, most people could write, and I liked it so much that I'm completely willing to overlook any slight stylistic issues. Because, really, this book was so interesting.
So. The Edible Woman is about Marian, a 20-something woman living in Toronto, paying her own way and living away from her parents (gee, I can't guess why I liked it...) and all other independent woman things like that. Since this is the 1960s, it seems like kind of a radical thing to be doing, and of course it is, only it's** the kind of situation women live in when they're waiting for a man to marry them. Marian isn't really like that- she doesn't really know what she's doing with her life, and she supposes she loves her boyfriend, but he doesn't want to get married and she doesn't think she does either.
So, of course, the two of them get engaged. (I know, spoiler, but I can't really talk about anything I liked about the book without you knowing that). What's really interesting about their engagement is that it splits the book in two, with everything before and everything after, and in the first part, Marian's narration is in the first person, and in the second part it's in the third person. I realise that this sounds kind of gimmicky, and also a thing I think I have genuinely complained about in the past, but for some reason, in The Edible Woman this reaaaaally worked for me. Here you have a woman who is independent and thinks what she thinks about herself, until she agrees to marry a man and suddenly starts seeing herself as distant even from herself, almost as an object the world sees (a wife) as opposed to the subject and master of her own desires.
This isn't me saying that marriage is evil, or wrong, of course, but only that marrying a man because you feel like you might as well probably isn't the best way to make life choices. BUT I COULD BE WRONG.
I feel like I probably like the things this book made me consider more than I liked the actual story (it did take quiiite a while to read, I have to admit) but when a story makes you consider as many things as this one did, it has to be worth a read, right? And it's not that the story in itself is bad, it's just slightly less interesting than my own brain thoughts (I know) but still pretty awesome, and, you know, Atwood.
*However, I will probably still buy it when I see it cheap somewhere, cause I have the other two in the series and I like completeness. Also I'm INSANE.
**Or was, I guess. Or probably still is. I don't know!