Book Review of Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
Many people will recognize Margaret Atwood as the author of The Handmaid’s Tale. This book is quite different, in fact, except for the author being one and the same, there is nothing else that ties these two together.
Surfacing is the story of a woman’s search of self as she searches for signs of her father on her family’s island home. Is he dead? Has he simply faded away in the untamed wilderness? She must know... but it isn’t just him she is looking for, it is a way to connect to him and to herself. She returns to the remote island she grew up on accompanied by two friends who are strangers and her lover and Atwood does a beautiful job of showcasing the difference between the “city” and the “country”, the ‘civilized’ versus the ‘uncivilized. The distance between the two is closer than you might expect, and when she at last taps into the wild, the reader cannot help but be lost in the woods as well.
This book is not for the faint of heart… this is not a book that can travel to the beach in a summer bag next to the sunscreen and the bottles of water. This is a book that cries out to be read in near silence, preferably near a serene lake. Not to say that you could read it anywhere… just that it begs for the completeness of your attention.
The characters are sometimes difficult to connect to, but the beauty of the description and the stillness of the action cannot be glossed over. Like a deep long dip in silent black water after the harshness of a day spent in direct sunlight, this novel will pull you under its spell and leave you transfixed, hypnotized by the desire of the heroine and craving your own wild pats… an animalistic desire for the uncivilized that lurks under the surface in each and every one of us.