June, 2019: The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood

(Book 110) Yes, there are other covers for this book, but would any of them be as appropriate for our June read?

“Oh, they say when you marry in June you’re a bride all your life,
and the bridegroom who marries in June gets a sweet-heart for a wife.
Winter weddings can be gay like a Christmas holiday,
but the JUNE BRIDE hears the song of a spring that lasts all summer long.
By the light of the silvery moon, home you ride side by side
with the echo of Mendelssohn’s tune in your hearts as you ride.
For they say when you marry in June you will always be a bride.”– “June Bride” from the movie “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”

Chris hosted this meeting and as I said in the email sent out in thanks: we were all SO lucky that Chris hosted and not me, because I definitely would have served frozen dinners! Particularly ones with peas! We started with wine and appetizers on the deck; we enjoyed two types of cheese with crackers, one was a triple blue cheese and the other seemed triple creamy. There was a great relish tray with cherry tomatoes, two kinds of olives, artichoke hearts and other tasty items. We went inside for dinner to an extraordinary vegetarian meal. In line with Marian’s inability to eat first, red meat, then pork, then chicken, Chris made vegetarian lasagna, a wonderfully spicy eggplant and tomato dish, and a lovely green salad.  “For a taste sensation, she sprinkled the salad with chopped nuts” and we ate it with glee! Chris considered making the edible woman cake, but felt a little squeamish about the idea and purchased delicious bakery cookies instead. We are all hoping to get the recipes for the lasagna and the eggplant dish.

The reaction to the book: On the way home, Linda said that she felt we talked more about this one than others we’ve read and she was happy for that because she needed to hear more about this one. The additional discussion may have been the result of my insistence on reading aloud many of the clever language moments that appealed to me far more than the story or characters. We talked about Atwood’s admission that her work was proto-feminist, that she anticipated feminist concepts, though the term was not widely known or used. Rosalie talked about another of Atwood’s books titled Surfacing which Rosalie used to teach in a course of feminist literature. Chris appreciated the consumerism aspect of the book and the way it applied to the female being consumed by the life she would lead with her husband. Karen remembered being given a copy of a Ladies Home Journal article with instructions for how a women should present herself to her husband when he arrived home from work. I made sure to share with everyone what I learned when I looked up Chesterfield while reading the book. While most of the girls knew that it was a brand of sofa, I added to our cumulative knowledge (trivia?) that Canadians use the term chesterfield interchangeably with sofa. 

Clearly, on our list of female writers and their debut novels, Atwood is one who has enjoyed a long and distinguished career. “The Prophet of Dystopia” has published books of poetry, novels, books of non-fiction, collections of short fiction, children’s books, and one graphic novel; her list of awards and honors goes on for days. The commercial success of The Handmaid’s Tale alone would let me start resting on my laurels. (Did I tell you I was once in a play with Ann Dowd who won an Emmy for her role as Aunt Lydia?) I told the girls a little story about how I had emailed each of the authors or their agents to ask them to give me a sentence or two about another “first” in her life. Three of the eight authors (because four are no longer with us) responded very generously with a first this or that and Margaret Atwood’s agent sent a generally friendly email noting: Unfortunately, Margaret will not be able to participate in this project, as she is focussing on her next novel. We do hope you enjoy the book.

Inedibly submitted, Teresa