After thoroughly enjoying Margaret Atwood’s brilliant novel, The Blind Assassin, I thought I would try another of her works, and found this on the bookshelves. It is one of her earlier novels (her second, in fact) written in 1972. The story follows a nameless woman and her three friends as she returns to a remote area of Canada where she grew up, in search for her missing father. As the four of them spend more time away from the familiar routines of city life, the unknown habitat they find themselves in – with all of its vast space and silence – begins to put a strain on their relationships.

Surfacing by Margaret Atwood

Whilst Atwood certainly creates a powerful atmosphere in the novel, especially in her use of the physical surroundings of the action, I wasn’t so convinced by the characters. Much of the novel is presented as an inner monologue from the main character, with little depth given to the other characters. Also I did find Atwood’s explorations into national and gender identities a little heavy-handed.

So, I wouldn’t particularly recommend this book, however, I am still keen to read some of her other works.