Picks and Pans Review: Bodily Harm

updated 03/15/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/15/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Margaret Atwood

A young woman from a small Canadian town escapes to Toronto because she is smart and pretty, goes to college and becomes a writer for trendy magazines. She has a lover, but after an operation for breast cancer, she falls in love with her surgeon. Obviously this is a story about one of today's women. Though single and free, she is at a loss to come up with a fix on life. She gets an editor to send her to a tropical island to write a travel piece. The place turns out to be as sinister and marvelously described as the Latin-American country in Joan Didion's Book of Common Prayer, and this book has the same mesmerizing effect. Atwood, a prolific poet who has written four other novels, gives this one high tension. The opening in Toronto sets the tone of lurking terror. The heroine returns one night to find police in her house. A man has broken in, placed a coil of rope on her bed and then escaped. Bodily Harm is strong stuff, and the writing is nearly flawless. (Simon and Schuster, $14.95)

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