Alright, I finished The Edible woman and I’m not really sure what to say. While the book was interesting to read, it’s very hard to explain.
In part 2, Marian begins to lose her appetite for all food. Peter (her fiance) become “clingier” and Ainsley is impregnated by Len. We’ll stick with Marian’s story first.
Marian is confused to find that her appetite is slowly diminishing. The shift begins when she goes out to dinner with Peter and he orders the steak and she gets one as well. The food becomes “alive” and she is so put off by it that she cannot eat it. It starts with meat and other animal foods (such as eggs) and eventually trickles down into cakes and vegetables. She eventually cannot eat at all and ends up taking vitamin supplements. Meanwhile, things with Peter are going well, from an outside perspective. However, Marian is developing a dependence on Duncan. When her and Peter have their first party as a couple, Marian invites a few of her friends, starting with Duncan and his roommates. Marian allows Ainsley (and other woman in the story) to doll her up in fancy clothes and fancy makeup for the party and she doesn’t feel like herself. Eventually she feels like she’s going to disappear or be frozen in space; nothing feels real. Eventually people start showing up for the party and everyone compliments her on how good she looks.
Duncan and his crew finally arrive. Trevor and Fish step into the party, while Duncan runs away from the action and retreats to the laundromat. Eventually Marian has enough of the facade and runs to the laundromat to find him. She decides that she needs to have sex with Duncan (and idea he proposed early in part 2) now, or it will never happen. So the walk all over the city to find a cheap, sleazy motel. Eventually they do have sex and Marian feels like she’s helped Duncan accomplish something in some way. Really, however, she has become dependent on Duncan, despite her belief that it’s the other way around.
At some point she finally realizes that all the warnings he gave her (about all the woman who feel the need to “fix” him) were not ramblings, but actually true. He had no desired to be “saved” or “rescued” and it was probably her who needed the saving and rescuing. At this realization, she reluctantly heads home to discuss things with a worried and furious Peter. She tells Peter to come over for tea after a few hours and they’ll sit down to talk. While she’s waiting for him to show, she makes a cake in the shape of a woman. This is her “surrogate” for Peter. She tells him all this, that he can destroy the cake-woman like he wanted to destroy her. This obviously upsets Peter and he leaves very quickly. (The engagement is off.) Finally, with Peter out of her life, Marian feels hungry again. She devours most of the cake-woman. As she’s eating, Ainsley walks in and gasps. She tells Marian that, by eating the cake, she’s rejecting her feminine role. However, Marian states that it’s “just cake” and keeps eating.
Ainsley is impregnated by Len, who promptly figures out that she seduced him… not the other way around and he is enraged. He refuses to take any responsibility for the child and that’s fine with Ainsley, at first. Then she discovers studies that show her child will resent her without a father-figure in their life. She tries to get Len to be the male-figure in their child’s life, but he wants nothing to do with her (can’t really say I completely blame him, considering the circumstances… though he is kind of scummy). She goes to Peter and Marian’s party and meets Duncan’s roommate, Fish. She is the feminine forces he is looking for (as a life bearer, rather than being anti-life in the sense of avoiding reproduction) and they get married.
In the end, Duncan calls Marian to find out what happened with Fish and to complain that Fish has deserted him. Trevor, his other roommate, is completely despondent without Fish there and Duncan feels he must move out. Marian is upset that Duncan doesn’t care one bit about her recent life triumphs/tragedies. But she humors him and feeds him the left-over cake-woman she had made for Peter.
All in all, this was an interesting read and it contained a good bit of symbolism. Marian obviously felt as though Peter was robbing her of her identity. Duncan was her way of establishing her own life, a secret life, outside of Peter. The realization that Duncan didn’t need her, in the end, brought her back to reality and back into her own skin.
Phew. And now I’m onto the next book. I’m not sure which one it will be yet. Maybe High Fidelity? The Yellow Wallpaper/Herland? My pirate book?