Review: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

The Heart Goes Last is a novel that starts out serious, before eventually moving toward a deliciously dark but hilarious slapstick ending--and is, perhaps, the best Atwood novel that I have ever read because of it. The novel opens with the gloom and doom of a financial crisis. Stan and Charmaine are a once middle class couple in their early thirties who have been reduced to living in their car. Then they are offered an opportunity to move to more comfortable surroundings ... but at a cost. As participants in a social experiment, Charmaine and Stan alternate, living one month inside a comfortable home and then next inside a prison. After a little while, Charmaine and Stan take a bit too much of an interest in the couple who they alternate with and soon, they discover that there are far greater and far more sinister forces at work in this social experiment ...

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel for its quirk humour and strange situations, ones that, toward the end of the novel become quirkier and funnier with every twist--I don't think that I will ever be able to look at a blue teddy bear (poor Veronica, though you really get the impression that she does not mind terribly much,) or an Elvis impersonator in quite the same way again. In some ways, it is a shocking look at what the future may hold and how ordinary people can be easily exploited by big business--Charmaine's character shows this quite clearly, and there are some parallels between parts of this novel and Ira Leving's The Stepford Wives.

Highly recommended. 

Thank you to Bloomsbury and The Reading Room for my reading/review copy.


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