Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood – Book 2

Well, I just finished “Cat’s Eye” By Margaret Atwood, and I have to say, that while I enjoyed the book during my time reading it, the end has me stumped.

I seem to be going on a theme here, because “Cat’s Eye” is told from the perspective of an aging artist, talking about her childhood and friends, as they go from being children to adults.  Hmm . . . I seem to remember the exact same point of view of a story in “A Prayer for Owen Meany.”  Strange that I happened to read two books in a row with that same perspective.  And it’s not like I did it on purpose.  I rarely read the synopsis of a book because I’m just too scared that the synopsis will give too much away.  I’d much rather talk to people, find out a little bit about the book, and decide to read it (or not).

“Cat’s Eye” by Margaret Atwood is about Elaine Risley who is an aging artist, and,  similar to “A Prayer for Owen Meany,” takes place when she is older and describes her childhood and experiences with a small group of girls, mainly focusing on the “friend” Cordelia.

Elaine grew up in a less than conventional way, with a father who studied bugs and would have the family on the road often.  Elaine finally was able to make friends (besides with her older brother, Stephen) when she was eight years old and moved to Toronto.  The group of girls she became friends with, led by Cordelia, began to bully Elaine.  Elaine was a pushover but did eventually gain some guts.  I’ll leave it at that since I don’t want to give too much away.

Another similarity to “A Prayer for Owen Meany” occurs when Elaine experiences a near-death experience and is rescued by, who she perceives is the Virgin Mary.  In general, “Cat’s Eye” stays farther away from religious topics than “A Prayer for Owen Meany.”

As Elaine grows up, she becomes a stronger individual and we learn about her love life, her children, and her moderately successful career as a painter.

This could probably be a mini spoiler alert, so don’t finish this paragraph if you want to read the book yourself!  I really did enjoy following Elaine’s journey through her life, and with her relationships with her family, boyfriend, husband, and on to being a painter.  However, I don’t really understand the ending.  Maybe I’m missing something, but to me, it was a well-written, interesting story about Elaine’s trip to Toronto, while in the midst of this Toronto trip, she explains about her childhood.  The book begins with her trip to Toronto and ends with her plane ride home.

Usually I would not recommend a book where I didn’t like the ending, or where I thought the ending was lackluster.  But I honestly did enjoy the book, just was unsatisfied with the ending.

Has anyone out there read “A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry?

This was a book I read a few years ago, but I always think of when I read something where I dislike the ending.  Basically, the book takes place in India and tells the story about a woman who is a tailor and has two men who come to work for her.  It talks about their issues with the caste system, and I really enjoyed the book.  I could not stand the ending, but because I liked the rest of the book so much, I still recommend it to people to read!  It’s like that with “Cat’s Eye,” although “Cat’s Eye” was not as interesting as I remember “A Fine Balance” to be.

I give the authors credit, though, because it’s got to be so hard to write a book, especially one with a good ending.  I also will give Margaret Atwood some leeway  here because I usually love her books, and their endings.

Have you read anything that you really liked with a cruddy ending?


22 thoughts on “Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood – Book 2

  1. This is one of my favorite books by Atwood–I love it. Having been bullied by a few girls in particular my entire grade school and high school career, I bonded with the narrator right away. I’m actually re-reading all of Atwood’s fiction, so as soon as I re-read this and have all the details fresh in my mind, I’ll come back to this and discuss the ending with you.


    • Heather, that sounds great! I honestly love Atwood, and I’ve read a lot by her but certainly not all of her books. I can’t wait to hear what you think of the ending, since that was the part where the book fell a little flat for me.


  2. I haven’t read this one yet and may do so after reading your review. I so enjoyed reading your review. I felt I was justing sitting at the kitchen table listening to you talk about the book. Keep them coming!


    • Thanks! It sounds like Heather (who commented above) also really liked the book, so it is worth reading! I mean, it’s Margaret Atwood, she can’t really do any wrong.


    • It definitely was an interesting book, a good read, but stumped me a little at the end.

      Thanks for checking out my blog!


  3. i read A FINE BALANCE. Given to me to read by my daughter-in-law whose parents are from Bombay (Mambia). A good read if you want to understand Indian culture. Been a few years since i read it but the ending left me, um, cold. I think i remember thinking that when I read it. I learned from that book how to keep cockroaches from climbing into bed with you. ( i don’t have cockroaches.)


    • Deborah,

      Nice name! It’s my sister’s name as well! One of the things I have kept in the back of my mind from that book is that if someone is super skinny, they might have worms in their stomachs! Scary stuff! But it was a good book if you forget about the ending!

      Thank you for reading and responding!!!


  4. I really liked this book when I read it; it was the first Atwood I ever picked up. I honestly don’t remember the ending at all. But I’ve since liked other of her books better, so maybe that ending is leaving a fuzzy, slightly-negative impression on my memory.
    I think it’s so interesting, the parallels you draw with Owen Meany. I read them several years apart and never would have noticed the similarities!


    • I honestly only noticed the similarities between the two books since I read them so close together (coincidentally!!). I actually really enjoy Atwood’s novels, even the endings to then, but this one just left me feeling incomplete.

      Have you read “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Atwood? It’s one of my favorites. I am not a book re-reader, but I read this in high school and then again a few years ago. It’s one of my all-time favorites.


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  6. I haven’t read “A prayer for…” so I can’t compare both stories.
    Anyway, I read the book some time ago and all I can say is that I don’t remember that end you say! I was focused in the bullying thing, and all I can remember about the end is what happened with Cordelia 🙂


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  9. Hmm…books with cruddy endings are so disappointing. It has been several years since I read Cat’s Eye and I can’t, for the life of me, remember how it ended. For me, Life Before Man didn’t have a great ending. It was one of those where I was like “what?, that’s it?” But you may not get that from it at all! I found Life Before Man to be a hard book to stay with at the time, but looking back on it, I would read it again. I somehow enjoyed it. I think sometimes if I like a particular author, I want so badly to like EVERYTHING they have written that I have a tendency to force myself to stick with books I am not enthralled by.


    • I didn’t say this is my comment above, but Cat’s Eye is one of my favorite of Atwood’s books. I just really, really got into it. But the first time I tried to read it, I couldn’t get past the beginning where she talks about her time in the wilderness, and put it down. When I checked it out a second time from the library a year or so later, I was completely engrossed in it. But for some reason, I don’t really remember how it ended at all. My guess is that I wasn’t crazy about the ending either, and that is why I don’t remember anything about it. Oh well, I own it now and will probably read it again at some point. I mentioned Life Before Man before, and while it wasn’t my favorite of hers, I could see rereading it and getting a whole new perspective on it now. I love her books. Even the ones that aren’t really my favorites. I know that sounds weird, but I just love the way she writes! I need to pick up a couple that I have tried to read at different times and couldn’t get into, and give them another go. I would probably like them now. Alias Grace and Lady Oracle are two that I have started and not really gotten in to, but I think I need to give them a chance! Sorry this is so long! I don’t have ANYONE to talk about Margaret Atwood’s books with! No one I know has read any of them, so this is a great outlet for me! 🙂


      • What?? You don’t remember the ending?? Guess we won’t be discussing it then! 🙂

        Many time I forget the endings of books and I think it’s because I enjoy the journey of the book so much that the ending is just an ending, and especially when I don’t want it to end, I just kind of subconsciously push it out of my mind. Maybe that’s not why, but it’s a decent theory.

        I have to read Alias Grace still, but I liked Lady Oracle, mainly because for some strange reason, I thought it’s be all stuffy and boring, but it wasn’t! I have this thing when I think all older books and classics will be boring, but EVERY SINGLE TIME I am surprised that I enjoy them! I need to change this thought in my mind. :p

        And please, do not ever feel bad about writing a long post! That’s what my blog is for: book discussion! I LOVE seeing that someone has something to say back to my own words, whether they agree or disagree with what I have to say. It’s the fun part of blogging! Making blog friends and discussing books.


        • I think that is a great theory about endings! That is a very true! When I really love a book, I am sad for it to end. I have become attached to the characters like I know them! I can see exactly what you mean about enjoying the journey of the book and not really caring about how it ends.

          We can still discuss Cat’s Eye!! 🙂 I will just reread the ending!


          • Haha! 🙂 Ok, well, once you brush up on it, we can figure out what it means! We should probably talk about it through email ( so as not to give away any ending spoilers on my page! I try to stay away from spoilers because I hate them so much myself!


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