Book Review: The Heart Goes Last

fiction by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is well known for her dystopian worlds and in this one the novelist peers owl-eyed at coupledom. There is much to recommend about The Heart Goes Last but it’s not one of her best works—and saying so makes me feel like some wrathful CanLit god might come hurling down from the sky and smite me upon my foolish head.

the heart goes last

The narrative structure and plot are constrained within a hetero-binary and the story plods along between its lead characters, Stan and Charmaine; the result is a slow-footed one-two-him-her rhythm, back and forth, back and forth, until it feels less like a masterful hypnosis and more like the result of an insufficient editorial process.

Plot complications come in late and though they somewhat expand, complicate and provide levels of narrative, the complications are kept in service to the couple and their complicated, unrequited, imperiled love. Frankly, I just didn’t care about them. So there, I’ve said it, and my foolish head is still attached to my shoulders.

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