Surfacing was the third book in my summer book project. I've always had a love/hate relationship with Margaret Atwood. I feel the need to read her full catalog, because she is such an important writer of our time. But, I haven't loved everything I've read of hers. I have really enjoyed The Handmaid's Tale, The Blind Assassin, and Oryx and Crake. I really couldn't stand The Edible Woman. I'm on the fence about The Robber Bride and I'm also on the fence about Surfacing.
I mainly picked it from my bookcase because of the sentence over the title "the most shattering novel a woman ever wrote". Yikes! That's a pretty strong statement. I don't think I found it better than The Bell Jar (which admittedly, I read when I was a teenager). While the main character does go on a journey to the island of her childhood, she is also traveling in her mind to past things that have happened and to other things that just happened in her head. She does go to the edge of insanity, but I feel at the end of the book she is surfacing from those mental tortures and is ready to move on to a better life. The end of the novel leaves the reader to determine the fate of the narrator.
Printed in 1976, this book is much more modern that the first three I've read. It was a nice change of pace. It was also a very short novel at 224 pages. I read the second half in one sitting which I think is best since so much of the book happens in the mind of the narrator. It would be too confusing to only read a few pages at a time.
I love that this book was carefully selected by the Popular Library Editorial Board.
The person who owned this book before me marked up almost every page. I like to find these kinds of markings and to imagine what caught this person's eye to underline certain passages. I think this book would get much better with a second reading. Since I am on the fence about it, I don't know if I will give it another go. Maybe, one day.
Next book: The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone