I vividly remember when I was first introduced to Margret Atwood’s work, she’s a writer that makes a strong first impression which, I for one, would not being forgetting anytime soon. It was in my last year of school, and I had the cheerful head of department training us for the unseen, ‘Love Through The Ages’, poetry question and in this particular week our theme was Helen of Troy. I remember there was a Yeats, a Wilde, and Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing, by Atwood, in our booklet of about a dozen pieces. It leaped from the page with sultry overtones, describing this woman who is empowered and in control, despite her situation. If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend that you do so.
Atwood’s new book, The Heart Goes Last, is going to be no exception to this rule. It is set in the near future, dystopian world which features in the rest of her Positron series. The previous short stories were published online via such literary sites such as Wattpad and Byliner, which is now part of Vook, but now Atwood is publishing her first stand alone novel since The Blind Assassin (2000). The synopsis tells us that it follows the lives of Charmaine and Sten, a young, strapped for cash couple who are barely getting by when they see an advert for a Consilence, a social experiment that will take them from living in their car to having their own home. However, the catch is that every second month they have to swap their dream home for a prison cell. Charmaine and Stan quickly develop an obsession with their ‘alternates’, the people who live in their house whilst they are in prison, spiralling the story into tensions over guilt, mistrust and sexual desires. It is sure to be an emotional and chilling read, and I can’t wait.
If you would like to read Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing you can find it here.
The Heart Goes Last will be on sale in most bookstores/sites and Amazon from the 24th September 2015 in the UK, and the 29th in America and Canada.