Cover to Cover with The Edible Woman

Any book published in the 60s is bound to have a few weird covers kicking around – and Atwood’s The Edible Woman is no exception. Crazy-eyed gingerbread simulacrum? Check. Oddly shaped refrigerator? Check. Curvy lady sitting in a spoon? Check, check, check.

Hardcover edition     First edition hardcover     New Canadian Library edition

Virago edition      Original edition     Paperback edition

Kindle edition   French edition     Spanish edition

This is one of Atwood’s earlier works, and I find it’s not as widely read – although maybe you have to be a Canadian English major to widely read Atwood in the first place. More so than her other works, Edible Woman has an acquired taste (if you can excuse the pun): notes of bitterness, strange literary exploration of eating disorders, and the crooked arc of a fitful love affair – if you could even really call it a love affair. It comes down to a question of balance: a look at the give and take relationship between two lovers, and the reflected give and take relationship between a mouth and food.

Perhaps my favourite cover is the paperback version I first picked up a few years ago, starring the woman-shaped refrigerator. The creepiness of person-as-fridge reminds me of a horror movie – how would you react if you padded downstairs at 2 a.m. for a snack only to find your fridge had a life of its own and curves to match?

The one cover I absolutely don’t understand is the laundry machine on the kindle cover, which neatly dodges most of the obvious imagery in favour of… a single Chuck Taylor sneaker? Sure.

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