The Edible Woman Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Edible Woman

The Edible Woman is about a young marketer who identifies sex and love with food and becomes anorexic. In 1969, the sexually frustrated Marian McAlpine has a job as a market researcher in Toronto, Canada. She lives with her roommate Ainsley who succeeds in tricking her evasive boyfriend Len into thinking she is pregnant so that he will propose. After Marian accepts her own marriage proposal from her dull yet professionally polished fiancée Peter, she gets to know the much more intelligent, yet sexist Duncan in a Laundromat. After stealing a kiss from Duncan, the two go to dinner, where Marian first starts to develop her aversion to food. Psychologically she starts to believe that sexually exciting yet controlling Duncan is slowly consuming her, in the same way that he consumes food. In her mind, she feels that she is being eaten alive by men. She develops an aversion to meat, then eggs, the vegetables. Her roommate Ainsley convinces Marian to throw a party and when Marion becomes all dolled up, her lover Duncan tells her she is ugly and then steals her away to a motel for a night of lousy sex. Marian then bakes a cake in the shape of herself for her fiancée Peter to eat and when he refuses to consume it, she sits down and eats it herself, thus accepting that she is more comfortable being a slutty free agent rather than a bride. The story ends with the non-committal, abusive Duncan sitting down to enjoy the baked effigy of Marian with her.
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Best part of story, including ending: This story, written in 1969, was the first to cover the anorexia issue and issues of identity that were be

Best scene in story: One of the funniest scenes in the book is when Marian is staring at the lint on Duncan's sweater and wondering if she could really have sex with someone who is such a slob.

Opinion about the main character: The dry wit that accompanies the observations of the opposite sex defines Marian McAlpine as one of the first funny feminist writers.

The review of this Book prepared by Donna West a Level 1 Blue Jay scholar

Marian is a woman in her twenties who has a normal life. She graduated from college and now works for a company that administers consumer surveys. Marian has recently begun going out with a handsome young man named Peter and she seems content with what she has. Her roommate is another young woman named Ainsley who has a job testing toothbrushes. Together, they share an apartment in the upstairs of a house, and they have to deal with a nosy and conservative landlady.

When Peter proposes after only four months together, something happens that ruins Marian's peace. She begins to act strangely, even literally running away from Peter and her friends after a night at a local bar. One day, she meets Duncan, a strange grad student, while she is going door to door giving surveys. He seems only vaguely attracted to her, yet she ends up sleeping with him. As time goes on, Marian finds herself repelled by all sorts of food. It gets so bad that she has trouble finding anything to eat.

Meanwhile, Ainsley has decided that she wants to have a child. She doesn't let the fact that she isn't married (or even in a relationship) deter her. Ainsley sets her sights on Marian's friend, an irresponsible man who has impregnated and abandoned many other young women.
The review of this Book prepared by Jessica

Chapter Analysis of The Edible Woman

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   humorous Time/era of story    -   1960's-1970's Romance/Romance Problems    -   Yes Kind of romance:    -   boatload of casual sex without love    -   marriage/relationship going to pieces Internal struggle/realization?    -   Yes Struggle over    -   midlife crisis Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   business executive Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   Canadian (Aboot!) Unusual characteristics:    -   Genius


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   5 () The Americas (not US):    -   Yes The Americas:    -   Canada City?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only    -   descript of kissing Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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Margaret Atwood Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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