Today I am sharing my thoughts on the short story My Evil Mother by Margaret Atwood. I must confess, this is my first read by the author (yes I know – I should read The Handmaid’s Tale …) but I like to break myself in gently. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
A bittersweet short story about mothers, daughters, and the witches’ brew of love—and control—that binds them, by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments.
Life is hard enough for a teenage girl in 1950s suburbia without having a mother who may—or may not—be a witch. A single mother at that. Sure, she fits in with her starched dresses, string of pearls, and floral aprons. Then there are the hushed and mystical consultations with neighborhood women in distress. The unsavory, mysterious plants in the flower beds. The divined warning to steer clear of a boyfriend whose fate is certainly doomed. But as the daughter of this bewitching homemaker comes of age and her mother’s claims become more and more outlandish, she begins to question everything she once took for granted.
I really enjoyed this story. There are many reasons why, one of which being the secret at the heart of the eponymous ‘Evil’ mother’s behaviour. it made me smile, made me think of my own, somewhat complicated relationship with my own mother, a trait of which she’d probably have approved and would have given us a good laugh between us. In My Evil Mother, Margaret Atwood has provided a look into the world of a mother and daughter, those whose relationship is coloured by the mother’s outwardly erratic and slightly off kilter behaviour, at least in the eyes of her daughter and neighbours.
It would be very easy to misunderstand the subtext of this story, to think this is simply a case of two people who are struggling to communicate, and in some ways it is. But there is so much more to the story than that, and if you really read carefully, all of the clues are carefully aligned and there to be found. The further we journey into their world, the clearer the picture and the broader my smile. Unexplained goings on and warning of things that could easily be dismissed as coincidence … but is it ever quite that simple? Certainly this was, for me, a story of the unexpected and one I thoroughly enjoyed. A very interesting introduction to the author’s work.
About the Author
Margaret Atwood is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry, critical essays, and graphic novels, including The Handmaid’s Tale and its sequel, The Testaments, co winner of the 2019 Booker Prize. Among her other numerous awards: the Franz Kafka International Literary Prize, the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Los Angeles Times Innovator’s Award. She lives in Toronto.