the heart goes last

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret AtwoodThe Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group on September 29th 2015
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
Buy from IndieBound


Following a catastrophic economic downturn, Charmaine and Stan are left living in their car, scraping by on a few dollars a week. When they hear about Consilience, a town that offers regular work and beautiful homes in exchange for participation in a social experiment, they quickly drop everything to sign away the lives they’re living. Though Consilience is everything they hoped for at first, nothing goes quite as planned when Charmaine and Stan are forced to face the truths of the lives they’ve agreed to.

Sadly, what stands out most from the start of The Heart Goes Last is the absence of Atwood’s distinct voice. Gone are the poetic lines and highlight-worthy passages, replaced with a rather messy plot. Though Atwood does raise several very interesting questions about desire and sexuality, they are completely buried in the second half of the novel. It takes far too long—down a winding and garbled road—to get to the final scene, which greatly loses its potential impact in the journey.

Still, the issues at the core of the novel are important and deserve attention, as is the case with most of Atwood’s work. If they can be isolated and turned over, there’s certainly value in reading The Heart Goes Last—just be prepared to wade through quite a bit in your effort.


  • Despite it sounding like a bit of a struggle, I still want to read this. I do like the idea behind the story.

  • I still have to read it and see for myself. Hopefully, I’ll get it in time for the Socratic Salon discussion – it should be a good one!

    • It will definitely be a good discussion! There are a ton of questions to turn over – I’m actually pretty excited to talk about it.

  • Rhonda Lomazow

    I kept putting it down thinking i would not finish it,then the story would creep back into my mind.I ended up really liking it.Not perfect but engaging ,

    • I’d agree with that, for sure – my attention started to lag a bit toward the end, but I was swept up pretty quick at the start.

  • Wesley

    I’m so behind on Ms Atwood. I haven’t even gotten to Stone Mattress yet. Gotta get on them both!

  • Hmm… I was so excited about this one and almost bought it yesterday. Maybe a library borrow instead of a purchase??

    • I’d go for the library, or maybe the e-book (if it’s a little cheaper).

      • Thanks for the tip; just put it on hold at my library. I so appreciate your reviews. And hey, if I end up loving it, I’ll go buy a copy eventually for the ol’ shelf! :)

  • Amanda

    Hmm. I’m thinking this is not making my list. I need to try something else to see if I like Atwood at all.

    • I think The Handmaid’s Tale is the best place to start if you haven’t read her yet :)

      • Amanda

        whispers — I hated it.

  • Well shit.

  • Great post, Shannon! Mine goes up tomorrow; I can’t wait to read the discussion on TSS because you ladies always come up with things I haven’t thought of yet…and then I have to think on it even more – ha! I’m glad that I read this one, even it if might not have been fantastic all the way through; definitely worth the read.

    • I’m super excited for the discussion – there’s a ton to talk about, even in a book that wasn’t a homerun!

  • Heather

    Ah. Shame. I haven’t read any Margaret Atwood yet and I really wanted to read this. Maybe I should read this before any of her other books so I have nothing to compare it to.

    • Hmmm, I’d hate for you to think all of her writing is like this, because it’s definitely not!

      • Heather

        Before this book I’ve only ever heard good things about her writing, so I don’t think that will happen :-) At least this way I get to read the book for itself and not judge it based on her other books – maybe it won’t be as terrible this way?

  • Ugh – so disappointing! And – I know how much you love Atwood, so means that much more coming from you. Needless to say, this will not be the Atwood I try first!

  • Deb

    I completely agree with your review. The first half had such promise, but didn’t follow through. Disappointing for Atwood. I loved Stone Mattress so would recommend that to new Atwood readers (and of course her classic books).

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  • How disappointing! I enjoyed the The Handmaid’s Tale but didn’t love it, so I’d like to give Atwood another try, but I don’t think this is the book I’ll choose.

  • Aw boo! Cause this premise sounds absolutely stellar, and I’d want it to be Atwood at the top of her game while writing it.

    • It really did have so much potential. It could be that it was originally written in serial format? I’m not sure, it just didn’t quite work.

  • Maybe I should stick with Stone Mattress on my TBR instead.

  • I have this as an e-galley, and between your concerns and Chrisbookarama’s issues, I’m thinking I might be skipping this one. At least I will not feel too bad if it expires before I have a chance to get to it.

  • I’m sorry to hear this was a miss for you. Many of my other blogger friends felt the same way. It seems Atwood has been more hit or miss lately.

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