Book Reviews

Book Review: “Surfacing” by Margaret Atwood 


Published – 1972

Summary from Goodreads: Part detective novel, part psychological thriller, Surfacing is the story of a young woman who returns to northern Quebec, to the remote island of her childhood, with her lover and two friends, to investigate the mysterious disappearance of her father. Flooded with memories, she begins to realize that going home means entering not only another place, but another time. As the wild island exerts its elemental hold and she is submerged in the language of the wilderness, she discovers that what she is really searching for is her own past. Permeated with an aura of suspense, complex with layered meanings, and written in brilliant, diamond-sharp prose, Surfacing has grown in reputation as a novel unique in modern literature for its mythic exploration of one woman’s spiritual pilgrimage.

Thoughts : 

Well. I am I huge fan of Margaret Atwood. And everything I read from her I always compare to the MaddAddam series…and I hate to say this, but this book just wasn’t up to par with that one. I found it very hard to get into this book, and even a lot harder to stay up at night reading this. It just wasn’t very interesting.

With that being said, this WA written in 1972…I believe my professor said that around this time, Margaret Atwood was very interested in the whole “America VS Canada” comparision. This book is full of patriotism, and the battle between the better people. 

I don’t like the description that’s put together for “Surfacing”…to be honest, it was so misleading, it set this book up to be better than it actually is. I hardly think that ‘part detective novel, part psychological thriller’ fits here. It was monotonous, and more about the psychological breakdown of the narrator than anything…but nothing thrilling about that for me.

I will say though that the description and imagery described by argaret Atwood when her narrator has this psychological breakdown is remarkable. This is why I love Margaret Atwood so much, because her command of a topic, even though not very popular or well-liked, is always filled with passion and you can tell that when you read her books. Although this one to me is monotonous and boring, it is something that Margaret Atwood herself was studying and passionate about, and she wrote on it – nothing wrong with that! 

Grade Report – 

Unfortunately, I’m going to have to give this book a 5/10. I just couldn’t with this book, it was hard to deal with. It’s important to note though that this book was written in 1972, so back then I would imagine that it was well received. With the themes of feminism and nationalism in the novel, it must have been popular – I would be surprised if it wasn’t. This was her second book too, so she wasn’t completely developed as a writer then – she has had the chance to grow and develop her skill between “Surfacing” and her more recent books. If you’re interested in Margaret Atwood and really devoted to her novels, then I would say that you should read this book. If you’re willing to try out Margaret Atwood, then I don’t reccomend you to start off with this one – I suggest the MaddAddam series, which you can read my reviews each for Oryx And Crake , The Year of the Flood , and MaddAddam . 

Does anyone out there feel differently about “Surfacing”? I would love to hear your thoughts on this novel, and see why wou liked this novel, as opposed to me. 


2 thoughts on “Book Review: “Surfacing” by Margaret Atwood 

  1. I’m a massive Atwood fan too. I don’t know if I’ve seen this book before, not with that cover, at least. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on it, it’s always a little sad when you can’t quite gel with a book (especially when it’s an author you really like)


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