The Heart Goes Last - Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood

The Heart Goes Last
2015, 416 pages

In this contemporary dystopian novel we see what might happen if the economy and, with it, civilisation were to break down. Stan and Charmaine, a destitute young couple, sign up for a Project promising them a happy life. The catch is that once you have signed up, there is no way out. At first they enjoy their new life, but then cracks start appearing and they both start breaking the rules. Life in the Project is so intensely monitored, however, that they are both found out, with far-reaching consequences. In a farcical, fast-paced ending the scene changes to Las Vegas, where all the protagonists get their just deserts.

Margaret Atwood portrays Stan and Charmaine’s downfall with compassion. By making them ordinary and slightly naive, she allows us to sympathise with them. Life in the Project is described as paradise, although disturbing questions of integrity and conscience arise. When things start to unravel, the effect is pure comedy.