March 28

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Apologies in advance to all the Margaret Atwood fans out there and to the beautiful friend who gave me a copy of her latest book. This review isn’t pretty.

After just finishing The Heart Goes Last (a massive personal achievement that cannot be understated) I am getting off the Atwood express and calling for a worldwide derailment.

Like so many others, I loved her earlier books like Cat’s Eye and The Handmaid’s Tale but just how far can an author push loyal readers and highbrow critics before they pull up stumps?  Well for this exasperated blogger, that time has well and truly come.  Let’s just say if Margaret Atwood ever publishes another book, I might suggest Ms K review it.

This clumsy and far-fetched punish starts out with a young married couple; Stan and Charmaine who are living in their car after massive economic and social collapse in America. With no money and no hope, they move into a purpose built community which turns out to be a twisted social experiment. It starts well enough but man does this book turn bad.

Now I know I sound angry but I honestly can’t find a single redeeming feature about this novel. The characters are so cardboard and stereotyped (he swears she doesn’t), the setting is completely underdeveloped and the repetitive narrative is nothing short of patronising. It is also full of embarrassingly dated, lusty sex scenes that would make Jackie Collins cringe.

I somehow get the feeling that about 2/3 of the way into the manuscript someone said – “Hey Margaret can you wrap this book up by the weekend?”  From there she emptied her writer’s notebook of every random and half-baked thought ranging from blue teddy bear sex toys to robotic nursing homes, organ thieves and Elvis impersonators and sent it off without further thought.

No doubt she expected her friends, her editor or perhaps those highbrow critics would pull her up. No such luck. How this book slipped through to the keeper is the story I want to read.

And that is my 2 cents worth.