Yes, there are some voracious readers out there who have yet to pick up a Margaret Atwood book. I won’t judge you, because I only finally read The Handmaid’s Tale about a year before the TV show came out! I have read several of her novels since, and while I love them, they are dense. Atwood has a very specific writing style, especially in the first person, where it feels like the narrator is slightly removed from the story around them because of how observant the protagonist is about the world they inhabit. Some novels like Oryx and Crake require an investment into the entire trilogy of books for the full impact of the story. Atwood is a fantastic writer, but I understand why people might hesitate to pick up one of her creations.
Enter: My Evil Mother: A Short Story, the latest by Atwood. Easily read in under an hour, it’s a fantastic sample of both Atwood’s writing style and the underlying themes she manages to weave into several of her other works. In the 1950s, the unnamed teenage protagonist is fifteen years old and in the midst of her peak conflict years with her mother. She accuses her mother of being old and out of touch, and her mother responds by leaning into the idea that she’s actually a witch. Good things happen to their family because of spells cast, her mother insinuates, and bad things happen due to the outside influences of evil spirits. The protagonist, as many fifteen year olds would, feels far too old to believe in such childish fantasy, but a tiny part of her hesitates to completely dismiss her mother as she grows into adulthood herself.
Atwood’s greatest works generally deal with relationships between people, especially ones between women, and this is no exception. They often deal with situations that feel completely possible, with just a touch of the fantastical, and My Evil Mother hits those notes as well. Anyone who has been wanting to read Atwood’s works without investing time into an entire novel they may not actually like would do well to pick up My Evil Mother. It’s a great little microcosm of what Atwood is all about.
Disclaimer: I downloaded a copy of this book from the Kindle Unlimited program for free and read it on my 10th generation Kindle Oasis. I was not paid for this review and all opinions are my own.
Title: My Evil Mother: A Short Story
Author: Margaret Atwood
Publication Date: 01 April 2022
File Size: 5951 KB (this title is currently only available digitally)
Marie’s Rating: 5 out of 5 stars