The Edible Woman

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The Edible Woman

by Margaret Atwood
Afterword by Linda Hutcheon

McClelland & Stewart | Mass Market Paperbound

The Edible Woman is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 5.
Marian has a problem. A willing member of the consumer society in which she lives, she suddenly finds herself identifying with the things being consumed. She can cope with her tidy-minded fiancé, Peter, who likes shooting rabbits. She can cope with her job in market research, and the antics of her roommate. She can even cope with Duncan, a graduate student who seems to prefer laundromats to women. But not being able to eat is a different matter. Steak was the first to go. Then lamb, pork, and the rest. Next came her incapacity to face an egg. Vegetables were the final straw. But Marian has her reasons, and what happens next provides an unusual solution. Witty, subversive, hilarious, The Edible Woman is dazzling and utterly original. It is Margaret Atwood’s brilliant first novel, and the book that introduced her as a consummate observer of the ironies and absurdities of modern life.

Format: Mass Market Paperbound

Dimensions: 320 pages, 7 × 4.28 × 0.7 in

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0771099509

ISBN - 13: 9780771099502

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic, Hilarious and Refreshing! This early book just proves that Atwood has been sharp from the beginning! She's smart, witty and hilarious all at once. Although she is a world class writer in her own right, Canadians will appreciate the subtle "Canadian-ness" of her writing. Atwood is the Jane Austen of our time. As an English graduate student, I especially enjoyed her discussion of academia. Not surprisingly, Atwood wrote this novel while working on her PhD in at Harvard.
Date published: 2013-10-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A literary delicacy! In the first part of The Edible Woman we meet Marian, a self-reliant, educated, modern woman (for the 60s/70s), who spends her days as a manipulator of words and the consumer, in her position at a market research firm. Despite these things, Marian is also an amiable and even yellow-bellied narrator who stretches herself to the limits in order to please the likes of her boss, her friends, her roommate, her landlady, and her boyfriend, a promising young lawyer with a suffocating fear of marriage and commitment. Seemingly, right from the start, she is a woman in battle with herself and, silently, with those ravenous others around her, to find her true self. By Part II, the narrative of the novel shifts and the story is no longer told from Marian’s perspective, but instead from the third-person. Affectively, Atwood has us understand on a deeper level that our heroin is losing her identity, being devoured by those around her, and unraveling right before our very eyes. While we are observing the breakdown of Marian’s psyche, her autonomy, and her ability to eat, first meat, then eggs, then vegetables, she is preparing to marry her previously frightened but now enlightened, predatory fiancé, Peter. At this time Marian finds she’s drawn to Duncan, a young graduate student who appears to be the polar opposite of Peter. Although not as emotionally draining and demanding as Peter, like most men in this novel he still has a predominant neediness to him. The difference with Duncan being that Marian at times also needs him, and is not afraid to ask when she does. The Edible Woman is a stylistic tour-de-force, and although this is Atwood’s first novel, her metaphorical talents are found on every page. The characters behave strangely, almost whacky at times, but the messages are clear and important. Gender roles were at a shift when she wrote this novel, so I can imagine that it must have had a profound impact on the thoughts and feelings of women trying to find their place in the new and improved world. In this regard, all though women have been vacillating between their roles as caregiver and individual less in recent years, there is a timeless struggle-for-self apparent on these pages, that even today’s woman can’t help but relate to. In the end, I’m amazed by a heroine that can have me revolted and ready to scream at her spinelessness at one moment, and then vigorously dazzled, while I rally behind her strength of character, at the next. www.booksnakereviews.blogspot.com
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Yet another Atwood classic Even as her first novel, you can see her flexing her literary prowess and pushing the edges of acceptable conduct. Nothing happens like you want, or expect in this novel, but the effect is rather unsettling. Leaves you wondering about your own consumerist activities and their lasting effects. A wondrous book of self discovery and doubt and finding happiness in places you'd least expect.
Date published: 2013-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gender Roles Margaret Atwood dispells all stereotypes that have to do with gender roles in society in The Edible Woman. Her satirical look at what is expected of men and women under a social magnifying glass shows what ridiculous lengths some will go to in order to live up to expectations. Some approach Atwood's writing with prejudice, assuming her to write only from the feminist perspective. The Edible Woman is a perfect example of her application to all people. She appeals to anyone oppressed in their own right, calling for revolt against the restictions society sets on humanity.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Book I Ever Read This is the first book I ever read of Margaret Atwood's and I have been hooked on her writing ever since. She is an inspiration to not only every female writer, but every female in Canada and around the world. When I read this book I was in a very similiar relationship as the female protagonist was in and related so well to the book I almost felt that it was me she was writing about.
Date published: 2013-10-24

– More About This Product –

The Edible Woman

by Margaret Atwood
Afterword by Linda Hutcheon

Format: Mass Market Paperbound

Dimensions: 320 pages, 7 × 4.28 × 0.7 in

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0771099509

ISBN - 13: 9780771099502

Read from the Book

1     I know I was all right on Friday when I got up; if anything I was feeling more stolid than usual. When I went out to the kitchen to get breakfast Ainsley was there, moping: she said she had been to a bad party the night before. She swore there had been nothing but dentistry students, which depressed her so much she had consoled herself by getting drunk.   “You have no idea how soggy it is,” she said, “having to go through twenty conversations about the insides of peoples’ mouths. The most reaction I got out of them was when I described an abscess I once had. They positively drooled. And most men look at something besides your teeth , for god’s sake.”   She had a hangover, which put me in a cheerful mood – it made me feel so healthy – and I poured her a glass of tomato juice and briskly fixed her an Alka- Seltzer, listening and making sympathetic noises while she complained.   “As if I didn’t get enough of that at work,” she said. Ainsley has a job as a tester of defective electric toothbrushes for an electric toothbrush company: a temporary job. What she is waiting for is an opening in one of those little art galleries, even though they don’t pay well: she wants to meet the artists. Last year, she told me, it was actors, but then she actually met some. “It’s an absolute fixation. I expect they all carry those bent mirrors around in their coat pockets and peer int
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From the Publisher

Marian has a problem. A willing member of the consumer society in which she lives, she suddenly finds herself identifying with the things being consumed. She can cope with her tidy-minded fiancé, Peter, who likes shooting rabbits. She can cope with her job in market research, and the antics of her roommate. She can even cope with Duncan, a graduate student who seems to prefer laundromats to women. But not being able to eat is a different matter. Steak was the first to go. Then lamb, pork, and the rest. Next came her incapacity to face an egg. Vegetables were the final straw. But Marian has her reasons, and what happens next provides an unusual solution. Witty, subversive, hilarious, The Edible Woman is dazzling and utterly original. It is Margaret Atwood’s brilliant first novel, and the book that introduced her as a consummate observer of the ironies and absurdities of modern life.

About the Author

Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa in 1939, and grew up in northern Quebec and Ontario, and later in Toronto. She has lived in numerous cities in Canada, the U.S., and Europe. She is the author of more than forty books — novels, short stories, poetry, literary criticism, social history, and books for children. Atwood’s work is acclaimed internationally and has been published around the world. Her novels include The Handmaid’s Tale and Cat’s Eye — both shortlisted for the Booker Prize; The Robber Bride , winner of the Trillium Book Award and a finalist for the Governor General’s Award; Alias Grace , winner of the prestigious Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy, and a finalist for the Governor General’s Award, the Booker Prize, the Orange Prize, and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; The Blind Assassin , winner of the Booker Prize and a finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; and Oryx and Crake , a finalist for The Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Award, the Orange Prize, and the Man Booker Prize. Her most recent books of fiction are The Penelopiad , The Tent , and Moral Disorder . She is the recipient of numerous honours, such as The Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence in the U.K., the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature in the U.S., Le Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France, and she was the first winner of the London Literary Priz
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From Our Editors

The Edible Woman is the novel that established Margaret Atwood as a prose writer of major significance. It is the witty and diverting story of a young woman whose sane, structured, consumer-oriented world suddenly slips strangely out of focus. As a result, she finds herself unable to eat, first meat, then eggs and finally even vegetables. It is a fascinating condemnation of contemporary society and the rampant consumerism that denies both soul and sustenance.

Editorial Reviews

“Articulate and sophisticated.…Extraordinarily witty, and full of ironic observation.…A tour de force.…” – Toronto Star “[Atwood is] one of the most intelligent and talented writers to set herself the task of deciphering life in the late twentieth century.” – Vogue “Remarkable.… The Edible Woman assumes the force of a banal dream that has turned, without the dreamer quite noticing, into a nightmare.…[It] conceals the kick of a perfume bottle converted into a Molotov cocktail.” – Time “Delightful – spare, precise, mordantly witty.…Exquisitely written.” – Journal of Canadian Fiction “[ The Edible Woman ] is chock-full of startling images, superbly and classically crafted.…” – Saturday Night “Few writers are able to combine wit and humour.…Margaret Atwood is a poet and novelist who seems to be able to do anything she wants.” – Newsweek “A pleasure.” – Kirkus Reviews “Funny, sharp, witty, clever.” – The Times (U.K.) “Marked by a keen eye for evocative details which cohere into vivid incidents.” – Canadian Forum “[Atwood is] a subtle and penetrating observer of relationships between men and women.” – Sunday Times (U.K.) “Reflections on marriage, guilt and the relationship between the sexes – classic Atwood territory.” – The Gua
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Bookclub Guide

1. Do you see a relationship between the kind of work Marian does in consumer research with the particular way her life begins to disintegrate?

2. Peter is afraid of being captured by a woman, of losing his freedom; Marian begins to feel hunted, caught in his gaze; eventually she even confuses his camera with a gun. In what ways can all the characters seem at once to be hunter then predator, master then slave, subject then object?

3. Two parties take place in the book, the office party and the engagement party. Discuss what these parties do for the structure and development of the novel.

4. Sexual identity lies at the heart of much of the story. Discuss the role Marian''s roommate Ainsley, her friend Claire, and finally the "office Virgins" play in helping define Marian''s dilemma. Discuss the men: Why is Marian drawn to Duncan? Contrast him with Peter.

5. The novel is narrated in first person in parts one and three, third person in part two. What is the effect on the reader of the change in voice?

6. Margaret Atwood has described The Edible Woman, her first novel, as an "anti-comedy," with themes many now see as proto-feminist. Give examples of Atwood''s clever use of food images throughout the book.

7. First Marian drops meat from her diet, then, eggs, vegetables, even pumpkin seeds. Can you point to the incidents that precede each elimination from her diet? How does her lack of appetite compare or contrast with Duncan''s unnatural thinness, his stated desire to become "an amoeba?"

8. What is the meaning of the cake Marian serves Peter at the novel''s end? What is the significance of her eating the cake?

9. Margaret Atwood is a writer who often plays with fair-tale images in her work. "The Robber Bridegroom" (which she much later turns on its head with The Robber Bride) was likely an inspiration for The Edible Woman: the old crone warns the bride-to-be " . . . the only marriage you''ll celebrate will be with death. . . . When they have you in their power they''ll chop you up in pieces . . . then they''ll cook you and eat you, because they are cannibals." What images of cannibalism does Atwood use? Do you see traces of other fairy tales in this novel?

10. At the time The Edible Woman was written in 1965, food, eating, and weight issues had not yet attracted wide attention as feminist concerns. Three decades later, in The Beauty Myth, author Naomi Wolf observes that the obsession with thinness began to become a serious national problem for women America around 1920, coinciding with women''s right to vote; studies indicate that today nearly half of American young women have had at one time or other had an eating disorder. What are the symbolic meanings of food, and why does it become the focus for so much anxiety?

Discussion questions provided courtesy of Anchor Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. All rights reserved.

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