Sunday, September 17, 2023

Book Review: Old Babes in the Woods by Margaret Atwood (story collection)

 I love reading Margaret Atwood's story collections, so I was thrilled to discover that she had released another one. I purchased the book at my earliest convenience. And... Let me tell you what I found within the covers of this book.

Old Babes in the Woods

Margaret Atwood

McClelland & Stewart


15 stories

Old Babes in the Woods is a collection of fifteen stories that is sure to entertain, inspire and surprise the reader. The collection would be of special interest to those fifty-five years of age and older as the book addresses many of our concerns--how to age well, death and evolving family dynamics. By my count, six of the fifteen stories are about a married couple--Nell and Tig. They are a warmly human, sympathetic and relatable couple. Other stories range in genre from literary fiction to speculative fiction. 

As most know, Atwood is a skilled author and I filled many pages in my notebook with her clever turn of phrase and sound advice. Such as...

'Better to march along through the golden autumn woods, not very well prepared, poking icy ponds with your hiking pole, snacking on chocolate, sitting on frozen logs, peeling hard-boiled eggs with cold fingers as the early snow sifts down and the day darkens.'

"First Air" (p. 15) 

Reviews of other books by Margaret Atwood...

The Robber Bride

Cat's Eye

Bluebeard's Egg

Something a hairdresser once confided to me inspired the creation of this short story...

Hair Salon

I arrived at the hair salon fifteen minutes before my appointment. I tried to wait patiently, but I was too excited. I flipped through one magazine and another and another. 

Finally, the hairdresser called my name. "Shampoo?" she asked, grabbing a clean towel.

I shook my head and headed right for the chair. I didn't look in the mirror. There would be time for that later. Parking my walker, against the wall, between her station and her neighbours, I grabbed the arm of the chair. 

"What are we doing today, Mrs. Banks?" The hairdresser wrapped the towel around my neck and draped the cape on my shoulders. It was heavy. My shoulders slouched. 

I hunted through my purse and pulled out the black and white snapshot.

"Is that your granddaughter? She's--."

"That's me at sixteen. I want to look like that again."