author: Margaret Atwood
published: 1 April 2022
publisher: Amazon Original Stories
buy/shelve it: Amazon | Goodreads
Life is hard enough for a teenage girl in 1950s suburbia without having a mother who may—or may not—be a witch. A single mother at that. Sure, she fits in with her starched dresses, string of pearls, and floral aprons. Then there are the hushed and mystical consultations with neighborhood women in distress. The unsavory, mysterious plants in the flower beds. The divined warning to steer clear of a boyfriend whose fate is certainly doomed. But as the daughter of this bewitching homemaker comes of age and her mother’s claims become more and more outlandish, she begins to question everything she once took for granted.
I’m a longtime fan of Atwood, so when I saw this, I knew I had to have it. And with the witchy theme? Even better!
But it is not really about witchery at all. Instead, it’s more of a generational story of a mother and daughter. It’s set in post-WW II Toronto, a time when social norms were extremely conservative. Single mothers were incredibly rare and all too often looked down upon. The daughter’s voice is so clear, the vocabulary and often mercurial moods of a teenager. In contrast, her mother is witty, telling her daughter wild stories to teach her life lessons. My favorite is that her father is a garden gnome in the garden, in whom the daughter often confides. The mother, the witch, is quirky, insistent upon oddities such as burning cut hair so that it can’t be taken by others and used nefariously. The story, although short, travels through the rebellious teen years until the main character matures and learns some life lessons of her own. The relationship comes full circle between them in a poignant way.
some great quotes
Totally taken out of context, but great nonetheless.
Bryan must go, if not from this planet than from your life.
Who says you need eyes to see?
The opposite of mean is doormat.
“Some people collect stamps, she collected penises.”
“Why would I care about the tittle-tattle of the uninformed?”