Review: Surfacing

by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Surfacing / 0-385-49105-0

This early work of Atwood's is deeply metaphoric and may not be for everyone. The protagonist's story is told in the first person and, as she spirals into madness, we are taken down with her. Atwood handles the insanity quite skillfully, and we can never be entirely certain how honest the "surfacer" is being with us. Her descriptions of the reactions of others to her own actions sound sometimes slightly skewed, and we are left to wonder if her companions have perhaps already noticed her developing madness.

The narrative is rich and deep, like most of Atwood's work, and while the deeper metaphoric meaning may be hidden at times, the 'surface' plot is always there. Once again, Atwood delves into male-female relationships, but with a twist: What's a man to do when the girlfriend he has impregnated has a temporary bout of complete insanity? The answer is realistic but with a surprising undercurrent of tenderness and understanding. In typical Atwood fashion, she is willing to point out the flaws of her characters, but she does also force us to acknowledge that they are, for worse or better, human.

~ Ana Mardoll

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