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Summary

Elaine Risley, a painter, returns to Toronto to find herself overwhelmed by her past. Memories of childhood - unbearable betrayals and cruelties - surface relentlessly, forcing her to confront the spectre of Cordelia, once her best friend and tormentor, who has haunted her for 40 years.

An exceptional novel from the winner of the 2000 Booker Prize.

©1988 O. W. Toad Ltd (P)2014 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd.

Critic reviews

”Not since Graham Greene has a novelist captured so forcefully the relationship between school bully and victim... Atwood's games are played, exquisitely, by little girls” ( Listener)

What listeners say about Cat's Eye

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Careless editing.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

While the reading was perfect, the editing was sloppy. Sentences were frequently repeated as though the reader did a second take but the first attempt was accidentally left in, instead of being discarded. The pauses between chapters were sometimes so short that the final word was almost clipped, and sometimes the pauses were much longer. Both these faults happened often enough to 'break the spell' of the audiobook.

17 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Disappointing Reading

It may be that this book is better read than listened to. Certainly it has the acuteness of perception and comment you expect from Margaret Atwood and a density of interesting observation and explorations that pass too quickly when only heard. It is an exploration of memory and how we create our past, of bullies and victims, of time. The fifty year old, successful Elaine looks back to a childhood idyllic until her parents settle in 1940s Toronto and she is confronted by social norms and constraints she has not had to deal with before. The book is almost entirely about her childhood and an extended period of bullying lead by her 'best friend', followed by teenage years when, if roles are not exactly reversed, Elaine at least has the upper hand. We learn little about Elaine's life as an adult, as a painter; that all seems further away than her vivid rehabiting of childhood.
As has been mentioned, the editing is appalling, the worst of any audio book I've listened to, with the breaks between chapters either long, or more usually, non-existent and many sentences repeated as if a mistake has been made and not edited out.
I found the style of the reading uneven. Sometimes it was brilliant, energetic and with great inflection. Mostly, however, the voice of the reader and the tone she adopts for the book injects a kind of Plaintive melancholy to the story that I don't think is an essential part of the book and becomes tedious.
As you'd expect from Margaret Atwood, this is a very interesting book and I would recommend it highly as a read. I'm not sure that I'd recommend this reader, though, she didn't suit me.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

sensitive story well performed but poorly edited

i loved this storyline. it was introspective and seemed important to me. the performance was lively, well paced and well suited. however there was some repetition not edited out.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Sloppy editing lets this audiobook down

Margaret Atwood's arresting semi autobiographical novel is badly let down by those responsible for its production. I lost count of the number of times sentences were repeated by the narrator. OK, not everyone gets it right first time but someone else must take responsibility for listening to each recording session and editing out the bad takes. Unacceptable, unprofessional and, to the listener, extremely irritating.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, and great as an audiobook

Thoroughly recommend this book. The only negative is that quite a few lines are repeated, which breaks up the flow of the story.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • T
  • 31-03-14

such a great listen

I am an admirer of Margaret Attwood's writing and have listened to every audiobook I can get hold of. Even with my high expectations, I enjoyed Cat's Eye so much - very rich and rewarding. The past inhabits the present of a woman who is good at observing others and getting to grips with understanding her own younger self. It can be appreciated simply as a beautifully observed reminiscence, but also gives us some insights into moves towards greater equality for women during the latter part of the 20th century and maybe even into Attwood herself.
As another reviewer notes, the editing is occasionally sloppy (I am guessing this was converted from a CD version) but this should not detract or distract from an excellent narration and beautiful story.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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Poorly edited

This would have been an excellent book performed well except for the poor editing. Throughout the book the reader repeats phrases as she tries out different intimations or stumbles on pronunciation. These errors should not have made it to the final cut. Shame.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Young experiences reverberate

Reminding me why groups of quite ordinary women can subtly scare me - although I am one myself. Beautifully written with complexity, colour and shape, as always from Attwood. Centred around the life of a character I could believe in and identify with. This even though based in a country unknown to me, Canada, which in itself provides a black and white blackground with drab lives against which colours suddenly blaze. Pity about some bad editing here and there when repeated sentences break the spell.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Gorgeous, awful and loveable characters

I've loved listening to 'Cat's Eye'! Atwood tells the story in an attentive way that really puts me in the main character's shoes, seeing and making sense (or not) of the world through her own lens. I cared about the characters and was angry, sad, amused, disappointed... - the whole beautiful range of emotions! I wanted to listen to it whenever I was able to. Themes of gender, bullying, ageing, family, being an artist, trauma, love, loss etc.

There are some mistakes in the recording, though they didn't upset my enjoyment of the audiobook. Sometimes every few minutes, and at other times more spaced out, the same words are repeated once more. Like the performer may have been having another stab at them or like they were overlaps in the recorded sections which were mistakenly not edited out?

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Brilliant Book!

The reader here is just right, measured and even and completely believable as the narrator. She adds meaning and authenticity to this superb and engaging account of a woman's life and her psychology of dealing with relationships with family, friends and lovers, in recent but also historical context . Wise and incisive and many layered. These relationships are reflected in the paintings if the successful narrator and we are told about these in satisfying detail although typically ironically, the artist's agent interprets them in other terms! all round 5 Stars