Ever since her engagement, the strangest thing has been happening to Marian McAlpin: she can't eat. First meat. Then eggs, vegetables, cake, pumpkin seeds--everything! Worse yet, she has the crazy feeling that she's being eaten. Marian ought to feel consumed with passion, but she really just feels...consumed. A brilliant and powerful work rich in irony and metaphor, The Edible Woman is an unforgettable masterpiece by a true master of contemporary literary fiction.
I've decided to read more Atwood novels as I thought The Handmaid's Tale was a revelation. I completely unintentionally decided to read The Edible Woman next, not knowing that it was the first novel she had written. Surprise!
I really enjoyed The Edible Woman, even if it was a bit vague at times. I thought the heroine, Marian, was quiet relatable, even if there were a few moments where I didn't quite follow her thinking and she did inhabit a completely different era than me. She seemed like a normal woman in her early twenties and I could understand a lot of her decisions. That makes for a good main character for me.
I especially enjoyed the side plot of her roommate trying to seduce a man so that she could have a child. It's easy to forget how hard single women had it back in the sixties and the idea of having to seduce a man just so you could have a child, even if you wanted to raise it by yourself, seems ridiculous to modern audiences. The best part of the whole charade, however, is when the man she tricked finds out about it and starts yelling at her for using him for his body. This gender reversal makes a real impact and I thought was really well done.
Perhaps the most impressive part of The Edible Woman is that it was written in 1965 when Atwood was 24. She didn't get it published until 1969 and it ended up getting swept up in the feminism movement of the early seventies. To know that it was written so much before that and predated a lot of feminist ideas is really interesting, though. I like that Atwood wrote this without a ton of buzzwords in her head, that this came out of real experience of being a single girl in the mid-sixties. It makes it feel more real.
This book was very interesting, entertaining and just well written. If you're a fan of Margaret Atwood, I would recommend it.