Oh and women. This time it was Cat’s Eye, a novel by Margaret Atwood. Actually, I should say I listened to the audio book read by Kimberly Farr.
Cat’s Eye is the story of Elaine Risley, a Canadian Painter who late in her life has achieved enough success that she’s having a retrospective in a Toronto Gallery. But the majority of the book doesn’t concern itself with this moment in time. Instead the book weaves back and forth to tell the story of Elaine’s life, from childhood, through college, and into maturity.
Central to the story is a girl Elaine meets in elementary school. Cordelia is a snarky, mean girl who acts as ring leader of a trio of girls who taunt and tease Elaine. All the while, Elaine does her best to fit in. Their relationship hangs on through high school although by then Elaine has largely left the friendship. However through college and beyond, Elaine can’t seem to quite shake off Cordelia’s cruelty.
The early part of this book which dealt primarily with Elaine’s childhood bored me. Atwood’s writing is lovely but the story line fell flat. It might be that although kids were occasionally mean to me as a child, this book represents a different kind of mean. These girls, particularly Cordelia exhibit a meanness meant to infect the mind. When Elaine finally starts to lead her own life, going to art school and taking a night drawing class, the book got more interesting. But maybe that’s because art plays a greater role in the story. And I find art infinitely more interesting than memories of childhood relationships.