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Sunday, March 05, 2006

cover of Life Before Man

Another Atwood book. Full of women who are not perfect, and men who are even less perfect. Elizabeth and Nate are married, but have affairs on the side and both are okay with that (messed up!). Elizabeth's lover commits suicide, and Nate ends up moving in with Lesje (pronounced Lashia?). Each chapter is the date and the name of one of these three invididuals, telling things from their perspective with their particular ideas and ways of speaking.

Each main character has their own ways of trying to escape life. None really work, but it is interesting how natural it is for humans to try and live through someone else or to at least not live as themselves for a while. There are two children, who are almost always identified together instead of as inviduals. Each adult relates to them differently, but the kids are usually seen as a nuisance and not a gift.

Elizabeth had a hard life growing up, so has become hard. Very good at getting what she wants, however it takes to get it. This means she is good at controlling men (including her husband). And able to pretty much set her own life as she pleases. But, things don't always turn out as she wants. The book ends with her wishing to be someplace else, to have a perfect life, to have someone to talk with. She is basically alone in this world that she has created, and she realizes that's not what she wanted. But -- can she get anything else? Raises questions about the futility of life, why we live the way we do, etc. Interesting but I'm not gonna read it again.

Title:Life Before Man
Author: Margaret Atwood
Date published:1979
Number of pages: 368


Lark said...

Any thoughts on the significance of the title? It is an interesting one, but from your summary it doesn't seem to relate that much to the story.

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