Margaret Atwood’s first novel is both a scathingly funny satire of consumerism and a heady exploration of emotional cannibalism.
Marian McAlpin is an “abnormally normal” young woman, according to her friends. A recent university graduate, she crafts consumer surveys for a market research firm, maintains an uneasy truce between her flighty roommate and their prudish landlady, and goes to parties with her solidly dependable boyfriend, Peter. But after Peter proposes marriage, things take a strange turn.
Suddenly empathizing with the steak in a restaurant, Marian finds she is unable to eat meat. As the days go by, her feeling of solidarity extends to other categories of food, until there is almost nothing left that she can bring herself to consume. Those around her fail to notice Marian’s growing alienation—until it culminates in an act of resistance that is as startling as it is imaginative.
I have had The Edible Woman on my stacks for ages, and as I read it now, I am stunned that I didn’t grab it earlier. There is something so captivating about Marian, as she narrates the story of her journey, varying from first person to third person voice.
The story of her issues with food resonated with me, even though mine occurred for different reasons. The similarities remained, though; Marian and I were both consumed with NOT eating certain things. How those issues affected her life (and mine) were all consuming, pun intended.
Psychological reasons probably formed the basis for Marian’s food dilemma, and I liked how the author showed us the progression for the character.
What does Marian learn from her experiences? How did they affect her choices and her life going forward? I couldn’t wait to find out more, and by the final denouement, I was smiling at the unexpected turn the story took. 5 stars.