A powerfully and brilliantly crafted novel, Bodily Harm is the story of Rennie Wilford, a young journalist whose life has begun to shatter around the edges. Rennie flies to the Caribbean to recuperate, and on the tiny island of St. Antoine she is confronted by a world where her rules for survival no longer apply. By turns comic, satiric, relentless, and terrifying, Margaret Atwood’s Bodily Harm is ultimately an exploration of the lust for power, both sexual and political, and the need for compassion that goes beyond what we ordinarily mean by love.
Bodily Harm was a fresh, unforeseeable novel that did not disappoint. To start with, the writing style is something unique and altogether beautiful. While a tiny bit confusing at first, the style quickly brings past and present together in a wonderful telling of events that left me captivated. I loved the way Atwood chose to tell Rennie’s story: her ways of writing gave the novel a reminiscent quality that was entirely new and original to me.
This is not an easy book to read. The events that bring Rennie to the Caribbean are very sad, and I felt my heart going out to her as I read. But I think that’s where part of Atwood’s gift lies in her ability to tell a really great story in a way that you almost don’t know you’re reading a story. It’s like you’re part of it, living it, alongside these characters and feeling it, in their heads and their bodies. It brings to the table a world of emotions that stir up in you as you read, and it’s quite impossible to put down.
For a millisecond I was afraid that the blurb had given too much of the story away and I knew how everything would play out, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The book has an easy flow to it, all the while keeping you in suspense as to what is going to happen to the characters. I haven’t read any other of Atwood’s novels, so I don’t know that I can recommend it to her fans, but to fans of the written word who are looking for something fresh and original to read, I can definitely recommend this novel.