The Heart Goes Last

Margaret Atwood. Doubleday/Talese, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-385-54035-3
In the dystopian landscape of the unflappable Atwood’s (Stone Mattress) latest novel, there are “not enough jobs, and too many people,” which drives married couple Stan and Charmaine to become interested in the Positron Project, a community that purports to have achieved harmony. There is a catch, as Positron leader Ed explains: citizens are required to share their home with other couples, alternating each month between time in prison and time at home. It’s an odd arrangement, but one that temporarily satisfies Charmaine and Stan—until they each fall in love with the alternates they’re supposed to never see; their infatuations put the entire Positron arrangement into question. Atwood is fond of intricate plot work, and the novel takes a long time to set up the action, but once it hits the last third, it gains an unstoppable momentum. The novel is full of sly moments of peripeteia and lots of sex, which play alongside larger ideas about the hidden monsters lurking in facile totalitarianism, and, as implied by the title, the ability of the heart to keep fighting despite long odds. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/29/2015
Release date: 09/29/2015
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-0-8041-9491-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-101-92476-1
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