The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
Though this is one of @therealmargaretatwood’s more recent full length novels, it is the very first of hers that I read. She’s one of my all time favourite authors (I’m sure a lot of you will agree) but I didn’t come to her until relatively late in my reading ‘journey’ per se. So this was my opening into the world of her works — and once I started it, I didn’t look back. I ration her books, though, like I do with all those I can’t get enough of who have a healthy backlist — because I want to take my time over them.
Beginning life as a short story online before Atwood expanded it into full blown novel form, it tells the tale of our main protagonists, Stan and Charmaine. Times are tough for them; the economy has taken a nosedive. They’ve lost their jobs and their home, now they’re living in a dilapidated, old car. On the brink and desperate, they need to get back on their feet. But how?
An advert for the Consilience project changes everything. If they take part, they’ll get work, a new home. It sounds ideal — the answer to their prayers, in fact. The only catch is they have to spend six months of the year in the project’s prison. And their ‘Alternates’ will move into their home whilst they’re gone…
Deeply disturbing and dark at times, and yet also wickedly funny in a way that only @therealmargaretatwood can pull off, this book still makes me think and I often find myself turning its pages — seven years on. It’s a brilliant and original portrayal of relationships and how far we might go to get the lives that we want. Oh — and why it’s always *always* important to read those terms and conditions.
Hope you all have a lovely weekend ~ S