This is an ingenious and beautifully written update version of Shakespeare's classic. It also manages to be a brilliant critique of the play:
- "Everyone loved the fight scenes: that's why Shakespeare put them in." (p 58)
- "The optimistic characters are stakeholders in the more positive side of human nature, the pessimistic characters in the more negative side." (p 259)
I love Atwood's work. Here we have genius:
- Her description of the smell prison: "Unfresh paint, faint mildew, unloved food eaten in boredom, and the smell of dejection, the shoulders slumping down, the head bowed, the body caving in upon itself. A meagre smell. Onion farts. Cold naked feet, damp towels, motherless years." (pp 74 - 75) Motherless years makes me want to weep.
- Her understanding of the fundamentals of humanity: "You know teenage girls, they desert their adored daddies the minute some young ripped stud heaves into view" (p 141)
- The joy of being alive: "Real life is brilliantly coloured ... It's made up of every possible hue, including those we can't see. All nature is a fire: everything forms, everything blossoms, everything fades. We are slow clouds ..." (p 178) Colourful philosophy.
- Appreciation of feminine beauty: "If he were their age he'd be leaning forward too. Actually, he is leaning forward." (p 256) Truth and humour entangled.
Books by Margaret Atwood reviewed in this blog:
- The Heart Goes Last: a homeless couple enter a utopian community
- Bodily Harm: A wonderful Graham Greenesque excursion to a Caribbean island where no one is who they seem to be
- Oryx and Crake: adventures in a world post climate change
- Hag-Seed: a brilliant retelling of the Tempest, re enacted in a prison
- The Handmaid's Tale: the one that everyone raves about ... but not her best.