The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood - review by Claire Lowdon

Claire Lowdon

‘A Meaningful Life’

The Heart Goes Last

By

Bloomsbury 306pp £18.99 order from our bookshop
 

Margaret Atwood’s dystopian fiction is in a dystopian decline. In The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), there is plenty to object to – the mangled prose, for starters. But at least that novel holds together as a diverting though implausible ‘what-if’, in which fundamentalism and soaring infertility rates force the protagonist, Offred, to become a handmaid – a breeder – for the Republic of Gilead, formerly the USA.

Three decades on, chaos reigns in Atwoodlandia. The Heart Goes Last began as a short story called ‘I’m Starved for You’ on the website Byliner. There was demand for more, as well as ‘almost immediate interest in turning it into a television series’. So she wrote another three stories in what became the Positron series, citing 19th-century serialisation as a model. ‘That’s how Pickwick Papers got written. It was like daytime

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