Newest Review: ... or to support their friend. They spend the time in the small wooden hut which belongs to the narrators father and live a back to basics ... more
I kept waiting for the story to surface
Surfacing - Margaret Atwood
Member Name: wigglylittleworm
Surfacing - Margaret Atwood
Advantages: some good observations about relationships
Disadvantages: very dated
When you see a book which has been described as one of the most important written in the twentieth century by the New York Times then of course you want to pick it up to see why they have described it so. Unfortunately, Surfacing is a book where I kept wondering when the exquisite storytelling or important life lesson was going to appear in this rather gloomy and dated little book.
An un-named woman returns to the remote island where she spent much of her childhood after learning that her widowed father has gone missing. She takes her boyfriend Joe and friends Anna and David along too, it is unclear if they want to go for a holiday or to support their friend. They spend the time in the small wooden hut which belongs to the narrators father and live a back to basics existence by picking vegetables from the garden, cooking by the fire, hiking and fishing and swimming in the lake. Of course most women whose father had gone missing would be worried sick and doing everything they could to piece together his whereabouts but this is only a tiny part of the story.
This week long adventure sparks off a series of memories for our protagonist and she seeks to make sense of her past. It also causes tensions in the group of friends with the two couples experiencing problems in their relationships away from the distractions of everyday life.
Surfacing is a very odd book indeed, we know our narrator has divorced and abandoned her child in order to work as an artist yet this story is not explored fully. The book looks at the bonds which tie us to each other whether that is parent and child, lovers or friends. Our narrator seems curiously detached from the world and the people surrounding her and this detachment works well to explore both her and others motivations.
I have got a feeling that Surfacing was trying to make a comment about the relationship between the sexes and gender inequalities and here it shows that some sexist attitudes towards women existed in 1972 when the book was written so no surprises there then! It does attempt to look at marriage and motherhood and what those institutions means to a woman. Perhaps I would have appreciated the book better if I had been alive when it was written and the somewhat hedonistic and sexually liberated life the friends shared seemed slightly risky and shocking. I have a huge interest in feminism and feminist politics so I should be exactly the type of reader who appreciated this book and understood what it had to say.
Surfacing is a book which left me perplexed and confused, surely a book which was so important 40 years ago should still carry meaning today but it left me cold. Despite what the critics say about this book I do not feel like it deserves to be named as a modern classic but instead a rather dated and irrelevant novel.
Summary: left me cold