By the author of The Handmaid's Tale and The Testaments
Charmaine sees an advertisement for a project called Positron that promises you a job, a place to live, a bed to sleep in - imagine how appealing that would be if you were working in a dive bar and living in your car. She and her husband, Stan, apply at once.
The only catch is that once you're in there, you can't get out.
No one writes the lust and the loves, the wickedness and the weakness of the human heart like the splendid Margaret Atwood.
'Margaret Atwood [is] a living legend' New York Times Book Review
'Gloriously madcap . . . You only pause in your laughter when you realise that, in its constituent parts, the world she depicts here is all too horribly plausible' Stephanie Merritt, Observer
'Her eye for the most unpredictable caprices of the human heart and her narrative fearlessness have made her one of the world's most celebrated novelists' Naomi Alderman, Guardian
'The bestselling author who shot to fame thirty years ago with The Handmaid's Tale is still at her darkly comic best' Sunday Times
In the dystopian landscape of the unflappable Atwood's (Stone Mattress) latest novel, there are "not enough jobs, and too many people," which drives married couple Stan and Charmaine to become interested in the Positron Project, a community that purports to have achieved harmony. There is a catch, as Positron leader Ed explains: citizens are required to share their home with other couples, alternating each month between time in prison and time at home. It's an odd arrangement, but one that temporarily satisfies Charmaine and Stan until they each fall in love with the alternates they're supposed to never see; their infatuations put the entire Positron arrangement into question. Atwood is fond of intricate plot work, and the novel takes a long time to set up the action, but once it hits the last third, it gains an unstoppable momentum. The novel is full of sly moments of peripeteia and lots of sex, which play alongside larger ideas about the hidden monsters lurking in facile totalitarianism, and, as implied by the title, the ability of the heart to keep fighting despite long odds.