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Meet the remarkable MARGARET ATWOOD and chat about her award-winning novels, including THE HEART GOES LAST, in November's Bookclub, Wednesday 4 November, 9-10pm

(110 Posts)
TillyMumsnetBookClub Fri 18-Sep-15 14:11:55

Over her exceptional career, spanning forty books and almost fifty years, Margaret Atwood has returned to themes of totalitarianism, environmental destruction, sexual politics and economic failure. She always takes on these monsters with a piercing intelligence, and a wit that makes the pages sing. Her latest novel, The Heart Goes Last, is set in a future world that is ruined, lawless and based on greed. Stan and Charmaine used to have a fairly regular life, but now they are forced to live in their car, existing on scraps and cheap doughnuts. When they see an advert for the Positron Project, offering a job and a home, they desperately sign up, despite a gut feeling that this might not be the paradise that is promised. Still, all they have to do is give up their freedom once a month and spend a bit of time in a prison cell. How bad can that be? The plot becomes increasingly circus-like, involving Elvis sex-bots, eugenics, mind-control and some strange knitted teddies, but the remarkable truth is that it all seems entirely possible.

Margaret Atwood has written volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction and is known across the globe for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1970), The Handmaid's Tale (1983), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin (2000) and the MaddAddam trilogy. Find out more at our book of the month page.

You'll also find a huge range of reviews, videos and information on Atwood's excellent website or follow her very active Twitter feed.

Bloomsbury have 50 hardbacks of The Heart Goes Last to give to Mumsnetters: to claim your copy please fill in your details on the book of the month page. We’ll post on the thread when all the copies have gone. If you’re not lucky enough to bag one of those, you can always get a Kindle version here or hardback here.

We are honoured and delighted that Margaret Atwood will be joining us on 4th November 9-10pm to discuss The Heart Goes Last, her many award-winning works and her writing life. Please feel free to discuss the book here throughout the month and then come and meet Margaret on the night, ask her a question or simply tell her what you think of her books. Look forward to seeing you there!

TheSecondOfHerName Sun 20-Sep-15 12:01:40

I borrowed this from my local library and I'm about half-way through. Totally compelling so far.

pbandbacon Tue 22-Sep-15 10:38:27

Fingers crossed!

0ryx Tue 22-Sep-15 18:53:53

A Web chat with my favourite author- oh Mumsnet, you spoil me!

Spikeinhiscoat Tue 13-Oct-15 11:46:47

Woo hoo! I've just got the email notification that I'll receive a copy of the book. A new Margaret Atwood is always very exciting! Eagerly awaiting the post now.....

frogletsmum Thu 15-Oct-15 15:11:18

My copy arrived this morning - thank you very much! Looking forward to starting it soon.

Spikeinhiscoat Thu 15-Oct-15 16:05:45

My copy arrived today, and thanks to an amenable ds2 I'm about three-quarters of the way through already. Even the formatting of the contents page is a bit different, breaking the story into short sections of several chapters each. The dedication is to three other writers, only one of whom I knew already, but as I really like Angela Carter's writings, I'll look up the others as well. I have really enjoyed the other Margaret Atwood novels that I've read, especially the dystopian ones The Handmaid's Tale, and the Oryx and Crake trilogy, and this reminds me of those. The story of Charmaine and Stan draw you in quickly. Some of the choices that the characters make/the situations they find themselves in, I was thinking "no, dont do that", but it all flows and seems naturalistic (what I mean is that some dystopian/sci-fi (I don't even know how to correctly categorise these types of novel, other than to say I enjoy reading them) set up situations that are shouting " look at me, I'm so futuristic that I'm completely unbelievable to you now" but this feels more credible (and maybe worryingly so). From about two-thirds in, the story escalates and I'm looking forward to see how it concludes. As a scientist, I also want to say that I liked the brief "chemistry is magic" comment, too grin

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 16-Oct-15 11:54:45

Great to hear the books have arrived. A reminder that Margaret Atwood will be joining us for a webchat on Wednesday 4 November to discuss The Heart Goes Last and her other novels. If you haven't been selected to get a free copy of THGL, buy a copy here or e-reader here.

pbandbacon Thu 22-Oct-15 19:44:05

I am loving this book, thank you so much for my copy! I'm not even finished and I want to go back and re-read all the others before the 4 Nov...

pbandbacon Fri 23-Oct-15 18:49:17

All done. I have read Margaret Atwood novels, but not all or am too old to remember so I don't know how much this is 'typical Atwood' that I've been hearing about. The dark humour struck home with me and I liked the silliness depicted in dystopian Vegas. There were some obvious gags that went unsaid and I'm wondering how many I actually missed. Overall I really enjoyed this book and found it thought provoking. Do you need to be oblivious to be free? Do we have the right to be oblivious?

I am really looking forward to this webchat and all the excellent questions that will be asked which I'm sure I really want to know the answers to, but don't know to ask.

SnapCackleFlop Sat 24-Oct-15 16:19:44


I'm really pleased to have been sent a copy of this book smile
I read it quickly - found it a very enjoyable, easy read though at the same time it tackled some very weighty subjects.

I particularly liked the way the 'sense' of the characters was conveyed - I loved Charmaine's mask of American pie sweetheart with her simple, chirpy upbeat attitude which sometimes slipped and she was a real hard ass .... executioner I suppose.

I did have a slight sense of discord between the (admittedly dark) humour and the deeply serious themes in the book.

It slightly bothered me too when Max/Phil at the end had the 'procedure' as a sort of revenge from Jocelyn when things were earlier resolved to be part of the elaborate plot to recruit Stan as a 'secret agent.'

It was still an intelligent and funny book which I'd happily recommend and throughly enjoyed.

Susan74 Sun 01-Nov-15 18:04:50

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book and, have to admit, it's the first Margaret Atwood book I have read. I read it within a few days! It grabbed me from the start and kept my attention right to the end. Both the main characters had traits I liked and disliked and I found myself changing my mind about each of them frequently throughout the story. I am looking forward to reading other books by this author very soon. Any suggestions which one to start with?

pieceofpurplesky Mon 02-Nov-15 19:58:08

I am getting confused with this and "I am starved for you" which I got as a free short story ... Is it the same? It's the same characters?

Duckdeamon Mon 02-Nov-15 20:03:33

MNHQ, Amazing to have a webchat with Margaret Atwood! Excited.

My school friends and I read Handmaid's Tale and Cat's Eye in my late teens, they were passed around within the group, and they made a huge impression. really opened my eyes to feminism. Thank you!

Can't wait to read this one and discuss it with my mother!

My question is do you have plans to re-work more myths or old works, as you did with the Penelopiad?

SkaterGrrrrl Mon 02-Nov-15 21:14:30

Very impressed, Mumsnet, MA is one of the greatest authors alive. <resolves not to gush>. My favourites are Alias Grace, Moral Disorder and the Penelopiad. My question for MA is, was there a defining moment when you realised you were a feminist, or was it more of a slow burn thing?

CactusAnnie Mon 02-Nov-15 21:43:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

imacmum Mon 02-Nov-15 21:53:05

Was very lucky to receive a copy of this book and have just finished it. How on earth does Margaret Atwood dream up these ideas, this was totally thought provoking and at one point I started wondering if these things were actually possible! I felt desperately sorry for Stan and Charmaine who were the victims of circumstance and could understand the choices they made, even if perhaps they weren't always the right ones. Charmaine obviously had a bit of a conscience as shown in the way she performed her daily tasks. But blood is thicker than water and it was good to see who saved the day at the end. But is this really the end? Or is there a follow up?

sooperdooper Mon 02-Nov-15 22:06:20

How exciting smile

I saw Margaret Atwood speak at the Manchester literature festival recently and just finished my signed copy of The Heart goes Last grin

My question is....My favourite novel is Alias Grace, does MA have any plans for future novels based on historical fact or around searching for what the true facts are of a reported story

ktlq Mon 02-Nov-15 22:16:06

I am delighted to have received a free copy of The Heart Goes Last as it has led to a re-discovery of the tour de force that is Margaret Atwood. We studied Cats Eye at A Level in 1996 and subsequently I went on to read all her works during this time. The Edible Woman was brilliant and worth checking out if anyone here hasn't.

I would like to know, the theme of the 1950s is strong throughout the novel. Why is this particularly, any real reason or did you just decide upon it simply as a writing aide? I notice with glee that Niagara is often alluded to, one of my personal all-time favourites. Is this yours too or an aside to your home city of Toronto? Do you have strong feelings about Marilyn, on that note and given your position as a feminist writer? Interesting to juxtapose Marilyn as an icon with Elvis.

Hope that's not too many questions!
Am totally in awe this time Mumsnet, what a privilege to be able to pose questions to one of the greatest living female writers of all time! Too much?! Sorry! Thanks again, superb novel.


RiceCrispieTreats Tue 03-Nov-15 10:04:14

Very exciting to have Margaret Atwood chatting to us on Mumsnet!

My question is: How do you maintain the strength to continue with your social engagement, without getting crushed when idealism meets a more brutal reality?

foragogo Tue 03-Nov-15 10:26:54

wow, what a coup MN! I particularly loved the MaddAddam books and they have stayed with me for an unusually long time after reading.

My questions for Margaret are:

how do you personally deal with women who say they aren't feminists, or don't believe in feminism?

Like the women at my book group who wouldnt read my suggested Margaret Atwood book becasue they "hated the Handmaid's Tale and all that feminist stuff". I find it very depressing and increasing difficult not to grab them and shake them and say how can you not be a feminist? especially as these are the same women who are crying on my shoulder because their husbands control all their money or have left them in a mess when they've gone off with someone else.

Devora Tue 03-Nov-15 13:17:18

You're really spoiling us lately with the webchats, MN.

Love love love Margaret Atwood. Here's my question:

I think everyone knows you as an adult writer, but not so much for your fantastic books for children. My daughter, now 10, used to be obsessed by Up In The Tree. Am I right in thinking you did the woodcuts yourself? How was the experience of writing for children, and are you thinking of doing more?

IdiotMargaret Tue 03-Nov-15 13:46:18

Hello Tilly. Can you see this? M

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 03-Nov-15 13:56:53

Hi Margaret - we're hearing you loud and clear. Am about to email over further instructions. Really looking forward to the webchat tomorrow eve.

IdiotMargaret Tue 03-Nov-15 16:00:09

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