Considering Margaret Atwood and Uneasy Sisterhood

Michiko Kakutani reviews Margaret Atwood’s latest novel, “The Testaments,” in this week’s issue. In 1993, Lorrie Moore reviewed Atwood’s novel “The Robber Bride,” in which three women encounter the glamorous and destructive college friend they thought had died five years earlier.

Margaret Atwood has always possessed a tribal bent: In both her fiction and her nonfiction she has described and transcribed the ceremonies and experiences of being a woman, or a Canadian, or a writer — or all three. And as with so many practitioners of identity politics, literary or otherwise, while one side of her banner defiantly exclaims, “We Are!,” the other side, equally defiant, admonishes: “Don’t Lump Us.” In “The Robber Bride,” Ms. Atwood has gathered (not lumped) four very different women characters.

Probably it is the subject of women that has most completely dominated Ms. Atwood’s novels (although for “women,” one might as well read “a medium-sized variety of people in general”). That women are individuals, difficult to corral, a motley and uneasy sisterhood; that feminism is often hard going and hard-won, sabotaged from within as well as without; that in the war between the sexes there are collaborators as well as enemies, spies, refugees, spectators and conscientious objectors — all this has been brilliantly dramatized in Ms. Atwood’s work.

Read the rest of the review.

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