Margaret Atwood, Virago, out now, paperback, £8.99Canadian author Margaret Atwood shot to literary fame 30 years ago with the deeply disturbing Handmaid’s Tale, a story set in a chilling future, where ‘handmaids’ are kept purely for reproductive purposes. The Heart Goes Last explores similar dystopian territory, with a plot centred on down-on-their-luck couple Stan and Charmaine, who live in a car. The world is floundering in the midst of economic and social meltdown, but there’s a glimmer of hope with the creation of Consiliance, a new kind of town. To gain refuge in the suburban paradise, inhabitants must give up their freedom every second month, when they swap their cookie-cutter homes for prison cells.
It’s an intriguing premise, executed brilliantly by Atwood, who injects wry humour into some of the darker corners of the story. A dazzling, multi-layered read, although many of the themes screech to a halt – we would have loved more on the inner workings of Consiliance, for example.