Read The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood Online

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Exploring the paradox of female villainy, this tale of three fascinating women is another peerless display of literary virtuosity by the supremely gifted author of Cat's Eye and The Handmaid's Tale. Roz, Charis and Tony all share a wound, and her name is Zenia. Beautiful, smart and hungry, by turns manipulative and vulnerable, needy and ruthless, Zenia is the turbulent cenExploring the paradox of female villainy, this tale of three fascinating women is another peerless display of literary virtuosity by the supremely gifted author of Cat's Eye and The Handmaid's Tale. Roz, Charis and Tony all share a wound, and her name is Zenia. Beautiful, smart and hungry, by turns manipulative and vulnerable, needy and ruthless, Zenia is the turbulent center of her own perpetual saga. She entered their lives in the sixties, when they were in college. Over the three decades since, she has damaged each of them badly, ensnaring their sympathy, betraying their trust, and treating their men as loot. Then Zenia dies, or at any rate the three women — with much relief — attend her funeral. But as The Robber Bride begins, Roz, Charis and Tony have come together at a trendy restaraunt for their monthly lunch when in walks the seemingly resurrected Zenia...In this consistently entertaining and profound new novel, Margaret Atwood reports from the farthest reaches of the war between the sexes with her characteristic well-crafted prose, rich and devious humor, and compassion....

Title : The Robber Bride
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780770428211
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 720 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Robber Bride Reviews

  • Lavande
    2018-12-28 06:42

    I like a number of Margaret Atwood's works but not this one. It was like a Lifetime movie without the benefit of Tori Spelling and a fun, melodramatic plotline. Oh, the plotline was melodramatic all right but it was far from fun or even insightful. Three friends (all of them stereotypes of the post-feminist era) have dramatic encounters with an almost mythic creature/woman named Zenia who embodies all of the "negative" qualities in a woman, namely ruthlessness, lust and wandering passion. This three woman try to combat Zenia's efforts to interrupt their lives but most of their focus is on the men that they have loved and lost to her, men, in my opinion, they were better off without. It's not so much the existence of Zenia or the other protagonists that I find unbelievable but that three women would all behave in such a simpering way towards men who, apparently, don't need much more than mystery and a nice rack to destroy a stable relationshp to go jetting off with some woman they hardly know. I'm not sure which is more insulting: her depiction of women as simpletons or as men as witless fools.

  • Edan
    2018-12-30 11:41

    My sister Lauren once said something both wise and ridiculous, and I think Atwood's beautiful, readable, and funny novel echoes the sentiment: "Women are crazy. Men are stupid." In The Robber Bride we get a peek into the lives of three women: petite academic Tony, new age, delicate Charis, and gregarious, fashionable Roz; the histories of their marriages, their childhoods, and their current day-to-day experiences in 1990s Toronto, are fascinating. All three of them have suffered at the hands of Zenia, the man-eater, who is not so much a woman as third-gendered--she is without a verifiable past, she is almost mythic in her actions and in her ability to disappear and renew herself, and she does not suffer as the other women, or men, in the novel do. She uses her body to get what she wants, in a way that the others cannot, but she uses something else, too, which remains a mystery to the characters. She has large breasts but they aren't real. At first I worried this novel was a little too cartoonish in its depiction of Tony, Roz, and Charis, but as the story went on, all three women gained depth. I loved falling into their individual stories. And the writing! Atwood is just too good. Reading this, I did think the relationships between men and women, as Atwood depicts them, feel a bit dated--there's a generational gap. This book is a historical text in that way, or at least it seemed like it to me. These women were born in the 1940s, and are in their fifties when the book begins. None of them can communicate with their partners, and all three of them have a maternal, "I need to take care of poor little him" attitude about their men. It feels authentic, but I think it's either specific to this milieu, or that a lot has changed. Even at the end of the book, one of the women (Tony?) sees Roz's teenage daughters as more confident, more honest, than she and her friends ever were. The women in this book don't have any male friends, and they don't seem to take their partners seriously, although they do exalt them in a strange way, and fear their leaving. There's a real, uncrossable chasm between men and women in this book, which feels foreign to me. Anyway, I'm rambling now. Here are some of my favorite sentences:Here's Roz:"Then she [Zenia] turned to go down the steps, lifting her hand in a gesture oddly reminiscent of a newsreel general saluting the troops, and what was it she'd said? Fuck the third world! I'm tired of it!So much for proprieties, So much for earnest old Roz and her poky, boring charities, her handouts to the Raped Moms and Battered Grannies, and, at the time, the whales and the famine victims and the village self-helpers, dowdy pump mommy Roz, shackled to her boring old consciousness. It was a selfish, careless remark, a daring remark, a liberated remark--to hell with guilt! It was like speeding in a convertible, tailgating, weaving in and out without signaling, stereo on full blast and screw the neighbors, throwing your leftovers out the window, the ribbons, the wrapping paper, the half-eaten filo pastries and the champagne truffles, things you'd used up just by looking at them."Woo!Then, here's Charis's part, where we learn about her getting molested as a kid:""Scamper upstairs," he tells her. He's trying for his fake voice, his uncle voice, but he hasn't got it back; his voice is desolate."Wow. "Desolate" is such a perfect word there.And this is Tony:"Meanwhile, the Zenias of this world are abroad in the land, plying their trade, cleaning out male pockets, catering to male fantasies. Male fantasies, male fantasies, is everything run by male fantasies? ...Even pretending you aren't catering to a male fantasy is a male fantasy: pretending you're unseen, pretending you have a life of your own, that you can wash your feet and comb your hair, unconscious of the ever-present watcher peering through the keyhole, peering through the keyhole in your own head, if nowhere else. You are a woman with a man inside watching a woman."I love that line: "You are a woman with a man inside a woman watching a woman."

  • Helene Jeppesen
    2018-12-30 04:53

    4.5/5 stars. This novel is amongst my favourites by Margaret Atwood so far because it deals with something that is relevant to everyone. It deals with Zenia, a woman who has poisoned several lives and basically destroyed Tony, Charis and Roz, the three main characters. We all have this kind of person in our lives; however, the thing is that Zenia is extreme, and it's very interesting to go back in time and learn about what she has done to these three women. When we meet Tony, Charis and Roz, Zenia has just died which is a huge relief to everyone. Nevertheless, Zenia fatally returns from the dead and start haunting these women all over again, and this is where we get to hear about their backgrounds. This might sound kind of humorous, but actually "The Robber Bride" is written in a very sinister and mysterious tone of voice which only adds to its brilliancy. I, for one, was a fan, and this book has gotten me interested in reading much more by Margaret Atwood.

  • James
    2019-01-20 07:41

    Charis, Roz and Tony: Three very different women, leading three very different lives – what binds them together is their shared history attending the same college and their shared experiences of a fourth – the dangerous, enigmatic and poisonous Zenia and the part(s) she plays in all their lives.In the hands of a less accomplished author than Margaret Atwood – such a foundation as this for a novel would undoubtedly have resulted in something clichéd, pedestrian though sensationalist and ultimately two-dimensional to say the least. Not so with Atwood…This is a story of the victors, the vanquished, of wars waged, battles won and lost – between nations and amongst individuals. This is history, both on a grand scale, the world stage and more pertinently here – on the interpersonal, the individual level, the macro as well as the micro view.This is a history of manipulation, humiliation, subjugation, ruination and desolation – this about the poisoning and the destruction of lives. It’s about winning and losing, life and death(s) – who is the user and who is the used?‘The Robber Bride’ is Atwood’s skillful retelling and re-imagining of Grimm’s ‘The Robber Bridegroom’ and whilst perhaps not up there with her best (Handmaids Tale, Blind Assassin, Alias Grace et al) – it’s an excellent novel by anybody’s standards. By turns, funny, infuriating, frustrating and thrilling – in some ways it’s a ‘whodunnit’ x 3 – but who-dun-what and how with who? Three stories of three women – with a fourth more mysterious one, never quite in focus always mysterious and as you would expect a well-constructed conclusion to the story(s) to all that has been told throughout.

  • Aubrey
    2018-12-30 12:44

    It's books like these that makes my rarely flouted 'always finish' rule earn its keep, for it often takes going through the entirety of any work for the meshing gears of personal reception to reveal themselves to my own perception. Granted, it didn't do a very good job of serving as inspiration for one of my more creative frenzies, but it was a decent whetting stone for my analytic ability without pissing me off too much, so reading it in tandem with The Second Sex was not such a horrible mistake after all. Reading the works simultaneously definitely negatively affected my evaluation of this one, but the work was mildly entertaining when I wasn't hell bent on deconstructing it to its most basic of constituents, which counts for something.I will admit, I went into this looking for the Atwood of The Handmaid's Tale, but never fear, I found better reasons for my tepid reaction than thwarted expectations. One of these is a simple mechanic of any sort of fiction, in that most of if not all of its success with an audience lies in its talents for deception, suspension of disbelief if you will for folks keen on key terminology. In Handmaid's Tale, I was astounded by the powerful usage of metaphor in all its macabre forms, enough to feel threatened by these clusters of ink lying limply spread over dead white plains. Thus I was emotionally invested enough with this story to not care about whatever contrivances of plot, character, and other components of fiction the author chose to utilize in crafting their work.This book did not pull that off. While I'll admit to finding bits and pieces of it interesting and/or amusing, the emotional pull was not enough to distract me from seeing it as a collection of stereotypes that happened to resonate with my own personal characteristics. Seeing as how this is how most fiction is generated and how I have not yet sworn off of stories completely despite my rapid intake, I wondered what else was off.This is where The Second Sex comes in and all of its wonderful analysis of woman and all of her facets, including a large section on the figure in fiction and the popular consigning of her to the category of 'mystery'. It turns out that this is a major pet peeve of mine, and without my knowing at the time was a theme that bugged me during my reading of Rebecca. What both that book and this have in common is the subsuming of the entire story in the viewpoint(s) of one or many female characters, one which looks out on a world from a perspective well-adjusted to the expectations of men and woman, and finds within its gaze a female who chooses to break these ideological standards and use them as tools for her own gain. Both of these females provide the only sense of plot advancement, as well as the only truly uniqueness of character, a source of unknown and mysterious complexity in the world of The Robber Bride where the women coddle in silent suffering their hapless men and innocently wondrous children. Admittedly, there are only three women to view the world from, but all three seemed extremely predictable in their thought patterns, as if nature did nothing but grant selves well-adjusted to the current state of society's expectations of the female role and left nurturing to fill in the quirks that would differentiate them from everyone else. All this building up of all too easily explained characters, while the most interesting is left to wallow as an unfathomable conundrum. A mark of laziness, in my mind. Oh, and the only decent males who don't fall into the 'hell hath no fury like a man offended' category are gay. Go figure.In conclusion, I may have issues with well-adjusted characters in general, and should just come to grips with the fact that not everyone is going to care about the bigger picture in context with their own lives, and as a result are perfectly happy going along with a preconceived toolbox that is never truly pushed into civil war. That doesn't diminish the fact that nothing distracted me from focusing so much on the more unsatisfying aspects of the story. Not the imagery, not the plot, no deep insight into the human condition, no novel ways of conveying information that sometimes result in a faint feeling of omniscience and more often in a migraine, not even overwhelming bleakness that leaves me rocking in the corner in states that I really should be more careful about. Nadda. Just a few traces of entertainment and a bit more knowledge about Canada and various historical conflicts. And more experience with analyzing gender stereotypes, I suppose. That's always useful.

  • Trevor
    2019-01-03 08:57

    Everybody in this novel has a motive for killing Zenia – and that is the point, or at least, one of the points. Zenia is a dark, malevolent force – one of those people we desire in the dark, middle of the forest nightmare spaces in the black pits of our souls. She is the one who knows our secret desires and who uses them against us to bring about our own undoing. At least, we would like to believe it is our undoing she seeks and that she is the agent that brings it about. But that is the thing about malevolent forces – they are agents of change, and sometimes what seem like evil changes bring about good outcomes.I don’t want to ruin this book for you if you are thinking of reading it. But I think I can get away with saying Zenia works her magic by being a mirror – Atwood even says this at some point towards the end, but I was thinking it most of the way through the book. And mirrors are interesting things, troubling things, dangerous things.There are a number of themes that struck me during this book which I’m going to think about more now with you. Atwood has always been interesting to me, ever since I read The Blind Assassin, although, I liked this one better than that book. I think mainly because I worked out far too early in that one ‘the secret’ and that spoilt it for me. Much likePsycho was ruined for me by my working out the problem with the mother well before the end.One of the things I really liked about this book was Atwood’s way of casually mentioning, before launching off on a story, something key that happens at the end of the tale – I felt like I was doing one of those mazes in a kids’ colouring book – I know where to start and where I’ll end, but how will we get from one to the other? The other thing about knowing the end of a story before the details are filled in – the main point of it, I think – is that we get lashings of dramatic irony. If you know before the story starts that this character’s husband is going to run off with Zenia, well, when she is saying to them both, “No, you two stay here and enjoy yourselves while I go off and bury my head in the sand” you know what a fool she is being taken for. Irony gets piled on irony. This is an interesting pleasure. There was a time when all stories that were told (Macbeth, Oedipus, Lear) were already known by the audience before the play began. This meant that the author could play with dramatic irony – with the audience being brought under the wing of the author as a co-conspirator. And Atwood does exactly this with her readers in this book – and it is a fascinating device.I really like stories that are based on fairytales – though, with smart writers I sometimes struggle with the allusion back to the tale itself, which I assume must be there. The Grimm fairytale that is implied in the title of this one comes in two versions. The first thing we notice is that the sex has been changed. The Robber Bridegroom is someone the bride has been promised to who lives in the middle of the dark woods. He asks his bride-to-be to come to him at his house, but she resists and is terrified of him. He leaves a trail for her to find his house, either in ashes or ribbons. When she does go to him his house is empty except for an old woman who hides and protects the bride. Soon she learns that her husband-to-be is part of a group of thieves who are rather fond of eating women – in the first version of the story a beautiful young woman is devoured, in the other version the princess’s own grandmother. In both versions of the story the bride is hidden behind a barrel when the dead woman who is being prepared to be boiled and eaten has a finger cut off with an axe so that the robbers can steal a ring that is stuck tight on her finger. This finger flies across the room and lands in the lap of the bride behind the barrel. Luckily the robbers give up looking for the finger/ring before they discover the young woman. After their cannibal feast they sleep the sleep of the innocent, so deeply asleep that the young woman can make her escape. In both versions of the story the bridegroom finally comes to marry his bride, but before the service the bride tells him about her ‘dream’. This dream is the story of her visit to his house in the middle of the dark woods and as she tellsthis story he becomes increasingly pale. Once the story is finished he tries to escape, but is soon captured, as are the rest of his troupe of villains, and they are all killed by the appropriate authorities for their wicked deeds. Now, part of me would have thought that telling you that story would in some way ruin – at least in part – the story of The Robber Bride. What surprises me is that there seems to be so few parallels between the fairytale and the tale Atwood composes here.I also wondered what would have happened, how would I have responded to this story, if it had been written by a man? It would have been quite a different story, I think, if Mark Atwood had written it rather than his ‘sister’ Margaret. I would have taken the male writer to have been a sexist old fart. The main proof of this sexism would have been the three main women characters and the ultimate ‘femme fatale’ in Zenia. The three women at the heart of this story are each instances of what it is to be a woman in the 1980s. One is a bit of a tom boy – interested in wars and recreating battles, she also (like Zenia) eats men, if only representations of men as dried beans and such from her mock battle fields. She is logical and analytical – she even has a man’s name, Tony. Then there is the dippy one – the one who sees auras and I sure today would drink wheat grass. The third is the feminist business woman - although this reads like the final twist of the knife (and I think it is very interesting that Zenia attacks both this one’s failing marriage and her failing feminist magazine at much the same time) also interesting is the fact that the person this one turns to when she needs to know how to sort things out is a homosexual. There are lots of interesting things going on in this book about sexuality, gender, and what it is to be a woman – well, and a man, I guess, but much less so. Some of it, as I’ve said, would have meant something quite different if it had been said by a man.The men in this book are all pathetic. So, a fairly accurate portrayal. It is interesting, the woman all know instinctively that if Zenia turns her attention to their partners then there is no question they will be swept away by her – false tits and all. They are powerless to 'protect' their men from her powers.I have relatives who live in Canada – it is something I’ve always known, since I was a child, but have only recently ever met any of these mythic creatures. All the same, Canada has always seemed to me to have been another possible place that my family could have ended up in, a place where another possible me may have grown up. And, let’s face it, the Irish are just perverse enough, when given a choice between sunny Australia and freezing Canada, to choose Canada. What really surprises me – given Canada is also ‘part of the Commonwealth’ is the use of American rather than British constructions. for instance, no Australian or British person would ever say, “Well, she can kiss my fanny”. That is a gesture which is much more intimate here than it is in North America – hint, right general area, but boys don’t have fannies. There are other instances of what I would take to be US English rather than British English that surprised me during this – and I just would have thought British English might have been more likely in Canada than proved to be the case.There are awful parts of this story – bits that are horrible and painful – just as there are in all fairytales. But I liked how this one ended and was relieved, as the meaning of Zenia, even to the characters, was not allowed to remain quite as simple as seemed might be the case at early parts in the story.Part of us longs for someone like Zenia – oh, we deny it, of course, but if there are to be dark forces in our universe, well, surely these forces would spend their time trying to work out how to make our lives a misery. We are self-centred enough to believe that is true. But what if the devil actually couldn’t care less about us? Or worse, what if the havoc the devil caused in our lives was actually for our own good – so we could learn an important lesson?Atwood is an interesting writer, always in control – always playing, and some of her metaphors are worthy of poetry rather than prose. Zenia is a liar, but Atwood is the consummate liar here – for isn’t that what a fiction writer is? – And isn’t every work of art, every work of fiction, a testament to the power of its creator to spin her web of lies? Disturbing, intelligent, confronting and multilayered – what more could you ask for in a novel?

  • Ferdy
    2019-01-07 11:33

    SpoilersThis was a one of kind sort of book where I pretty much hated all the characters because of their ridiculous and irritating ways yet everything about them and their fucked up lives was utterly engrossing. I didn't think it was possible to enjoy a book that contained so many rage inducing characters. -Even though I LOATHED most of the characters and didn't find their actions remotely realistic they were for the most part weirdly fun to read about.-Really liked how the story was structured with the back and forth narrative in time/characters. Also, enjoyed the gradual revealing and unfolding of how the protagonists (Roz/Tony/Charis) became friends, how they got to the point where they were at, why they had a mutual hatred of the mythical Zenia, what Zenia did to them, and the whole mystery of Zenia in general. -All three of the main female characters (Tony, Roz and Charis) were awful, I hated their misogyny and their relationships with and attitude towards men.I wasn't sure which one of the three protagonist irritated me the most, Tony with her molly coddling and servile attitude towards her husband, Roz with her sexist and judgemental attitude of women, or Charis with her patheticness.On the whole the female characters were either simpering martyrs, judgemental-female-hating twits, absolutely bonkers, complete doormats or evil-opportunistic-soulless-whores.-The male characters were no better than the female, they were all so weak and slimy. I rolled my eyes at the general vibe the protagonists had of how their men had to be protected from the female sex because they were such innocent, breakable, little puppies with no minds of their own and women were all predatory and evil. Ugh.There were no male or female characters who had morals, self-respect, open-mindedness or backbone. -Loved getting to know about Zenia and how she wormed her way into Tony/Roz/Charis's life by lying, charming and manipulating them. I had to laugh at how easily Zenia 'seduced' their men, it really didn't take much for them to chase after Zenia and leave their wives/family. I don't know why Zenia was blamed for literally everything though when their men more than played their part in destroying their marriages.-Why on earth would Tony take back her husband after all he'd done? He left her for Zenia and lived with her for over a year and then when he was dumped, Tony just let him waltz back into her life without any questions, grovelling, or explanations. Not only that she tip-toed around her husband and acted like an utter doormat. He was the one who was in the wrong in leaving her for another woman, cheating on her, loving someone else more than her, and not caring about her, yet Tony was the one who acted like she'd done wrong. Also, why was she so cool with being second best to Zenia? She knew her husband loved Zenia far, far more than her and would dump her if she ever wanted him back again but for some unfathomable reason that didn't piss her off, upset her or bother her in any way. Why would anyone be happy with a partner that was crazy in love with someone else and would leave them without a second thought if they could have another chance with their first choice? I didn't get it. Why would Tony still want him after all he'd done? They didn't even have kids to tie them together, and it wasn't like she couldn't find someone else or even be happy alone. Why wasn't she pissed at him? Why did she blame Zenia for everything? It wasn't as if her husband wasn't more than willing to leave her and cheat on her without once looking back, she acted as if he had no control of himself whatsoever and couldn't make decisions for himself. Ugh, Tony's reaction to him and his affair was unreal.-Roz was an utter cow. Her attitude towards other women was disgusting, there wasn't one she didn't think badly of in some way or another. The way she bitched about her son's girlfriends and her husband's lovers was vile. She still thought well of her husband despite all his cheating yet all the women he slept with were irredeemable nobodies. Ugh, she basically thought all women were vultures and men were just confused little puppies who couldn't help being led astray by the womenfolk.-I guess Charis was the most tolerable out of the three, but even she was annoying as hell. Her decades long obsession with Billy was so far-fetched, she hadn't even been with him that long, plus he treated her like crap for most of their relationship (at least Tony's husband was kind to her when they were together, whereas Billy was plain abusive, so why would she miss him?). I couldn't believe she was unable to move on from him when in the grand scheme of things he hadn't actually been in her life for very long. Even when Zenia told her how much of loser and low life he was she was still protecting him. It made no sense.-It was mind boggling how all of three them were so cool with their husbands cheating on them, leaving them and falling in love with someone else. They were so forgiving, they didn't even want an apology, they were fine with taking them back despite knowing they'd always be second best. I could maybe accept that attitude if they were living in the olden days but they weren't, they could have easily survived on their own and met new people. It was all so bizarre how they reacted to their husbands cheating, lies, and betrayal.-From all the characters Zenia was the most likeable, despite her betraying her friends by sleeping with their husbands and running away them, at least she wasn't some doormat who let the men in her life walk all over. Unlike Charis, Roz and Tony who were all simpering idiots that were so desperate to keep hold of their men that they took them back without question or apology after being so thoroughly destroyed and hurt by them. Their desperation and weakness for the spineless men in their life was beyond ridiculous. They had no self respect or dignity and they acted like oppressed women who had no choice but to depend on the men in their life. Tony and co didn't need their men for anything yet they were still afraid to lose the cheating, lying, useless, uncaring pigs. It was as if they were no other men in the world or as if they couldn't be happier alone than stuck with a cruel, disloyal husband who would always love someone else better. I really didn't get it.-Loved the confrontation in the last section between Zenia and the girls. Even after all Zenia had done she still had the upper hand, I was expecting Tony and co to put her in her place and deliver some home truths but they never did. Zenia was the one who scorned them and showed them up for being so thick and idiotic about their men.I wanted Charis/Tony/Roz to realise that Zenia actually did them a favour by 'taking' their men but it didn't seem to click with them.. They were still blaming her for their ruined relationships when it was actually their men who were most at fault for straying.-Why were all the men so weak and cowardly? They all fell for Zenia even though they were in committed relationships. Why would they risk so much for a cheap affair/lust? -What was with Charis's healing powers? I thought she was just deluded or had an over-active imagination or something but then she healed Roz and had that vision? Was Roz just imagining Charis's healing? Was it a coincidence that Charis guessed Zenia's death? Or did she have something to do with it?-The negative portrayal of both the male and female characters was so insulting, maybe that was the point.. A commentary of sorts on the double standards with the whole demonizing of women and excusing men of any bad they do. Hmm, I'm still not sure.Even though I LOATHED the way the female and male characters were written, I can't deny that I was thoroughly entertained and intrigued by the plot, the characters and the relationships. I'll definitely be reading more Margaret Atwood in the future.

  • Jennifer (aka EM)
    2019-01-03 05:53

    Atwood at her finest - and in some ways, meanest (I mean that in a good way). I ended up loving it, although found it started slowly, lacking her usual sly and almost remote perspective, sharp insights, biting black humour. It was almost too sincere and - gasp! - clichéd. Then, by about p 100, it kicked in. Cunning use of language and symbolism (the eggs!) - and most of all, a study in a particularly disturbing kind of psychopathology to which so many of us have been prey. Slices to the bone and hits close to home, for me. I have known too many Zenias in my life, women and men. I like to think I've learned to spot and avoid them, but this book reminds me of how they do what they do: the predatory and unscrupulous behaviour of the pathological liar. I love that Atwood focuses her laser-beam eye here on the three 'victims'. She forces you right into their heads, you get to see each one’s inner workings at a microscopic level, the way those CSI shows take you right into the orifices and organs to show you the source of the disease up close, magnified 1,000x. You see the arterial placque of their psyches, each vein of vulnerability. Not that the ‘victims’ here are diseased – but more like their particular psychologies, pasts, experiences have left them exposed and lacking any immunity to the disease that Zenia/the liar carries.That core vulnerability – the commonality between Tony, Roz and Charis – is their essential ‘goodness’: their natural, untainted proclivity to trust. Even as we watch them fall repeatedly into Zenia’s clutches because of it, motivated not just by their own willingness to trust but also by the equally natural and forgivable flaws and egocentricities and points of pride or pain or shame or lack of self-awareness that Zenia exploits, we root for them and we recognize ourselves in them. I appreciated so much that Atwood chose to (view spoiler)[strengthen, not destroy, their bonds of friendship. (hide spoiler)] Too often, the opposite happens - it's the most regrettable collateral damage that the pathological liar causes. I appreciated the maturity, authenticity and well-roundedness of their perceptions and understanding of each other. This level of hyper-psycho-realism is always high in Atwood; here, she's at her peak power. And she walked a bit of a tightrope, too: Zenia, in another author's hands, could have been seen as a particularly mean-spirited sexist attack; Tony, Roz and Charis as caricatures of specific types of feminity. Atwood deliberately manipulates these nuances and layers of meaning, and our interpretation of them, as part of the story. Zenia-like, really; story-tellers are weaving lies, too, right? Reading a story is sometimes like looking in a mirror - we see ourselves reflected there; another deliberate choice of symbolism that Atwood uses.A lot of novels make me cry. Some make me clench my teeth in anger. Still fewer leave me on the edge of my seat as I wonder how the plot will resolve. Almost none make me feel all of this, and so profoundly as this one does.It’s extraordinary.

  • Andrea
    2019-01-10 05:52

    Interesting enough for me to finish in less than 24 hours, but lacking in anything that would provoke lasting thought or examination.I found this book to be a great disappointment. It's basically all about how three incredibly amazing women, so smart and strong and capable within themselves, are brought down and nearly destroyed by a fourth woman, through her attack on their common weak spot: the men in their lives. The exotically, impossibly beautiful Zenia systematically targets each woman, imposes upon her generosity for a time, then vamooses with her man and a great deal of money. Why? Her motive seems to be nothing more than greed and the fact that she can. Her beauty and craftiness are reason enough? I don't know.But really, why is the book populated solely with weak men in need of a good spot of mothering? Why does Tony let Zenia lead her husband around by the dick and then, when Zenia's had done with him, allow him back into her home, never to broach the subject again? Why is the only character with a strong backbone and chipless shoulders an elderly farmer's widow who endures a solitary existence, shunned by the neighbors who fear she's a witch and by her toxic daughters who are ashamed of her?I always like the idea of Margaret Atwood more than the reality and this book may be the final nail in my decision to never read another of her books. Why does feminist writing have to be about women being destroyed by other women and men being too brainless, incompetent, and unaware to contribute anything worthwhile? This book would have me be believe all women are untrustworthy—especially those posing as my friends—and that the only way to deal with men is to condescend to them, mother them, hide from them the true goings-on in my mind and the world. The state of loneliness in which the main characters exist is unsettling, but I don't find it very believable. None of the members of the I Hate Zenia Club are respectful of their friends. They tune out or dismiss their supposed friends' opinions, friendly advice is more like an insult disguised as a compliment, and they meet up once a month for a lunch so they can sit around listening to themselves talk and hating on the woman they let walk all over them. None of them seem to have any other meaningful interactions with other humans: family members are looked at as curiosities or pets and co-workers or colleagues are avoided and disdained, treated like a trained monkey, or are just as self-absorbed and damaged as they and, therefore, equally incapable of real conversation.Are we all really that hollow inside?

  • Manny
    2019-01-17 04:58

    Well a hard headed woman, a soft hearted man been the cause of trouble ever since the world began. Oh yeah, ever since the world beganHe listens to Elvis with half an ear as he finishes the last few pages. He'd felt worried when his wife told him he should read it. The Fay Weldon, last year... that had left him feeling disquieted. But this one was different. He wonders if Margaret is a lady or a woman or a babe. He guesses he'd better call her a woman. Privately, though, he's decided she's a babe. What was that thing Jack Nicholson once said? Women know there's only twelve kinds of men in the world, and they get a bit tired of it. I know that because I'm the kind they tell things to. He'd found that pretty funny. He knows what women think of men. Most of Margaret's sly criticisms are familiar, and sometimes they sting a little. He makes promises, and doesn't keep them. He won't admit that he lets his wife take care of the dirty jobs. He wants sex when he shouldn't, and then he doesn't want it when he should. But there's a goodnatured edge to her teasing. He can recognize the real danger signals; this is no more than threat level orange.I heard about a king who was doin' swell till he started playing with that evil JezebelThe one Margaret really hates is Jezebel, not the men. Though at the same time she wishes she could be her, just for five minutes. That's familiar too. He knew immediately who Zenia reminds him of, and he also knew she reminded his wife of the same person. And what was the ending about? He suddenly notices that she's looking at him."Did you like it, hon?"He collects his thoughts. "It, ah, it spoke to me." He was trying for ironic, but to his surprise he finds that he means it. She smiles, and turns up the music."I always thought this was a great track. Let's dance."She pulls him out of the chair, and he knows that, just now, everything is alright.

  • mark monday
    2019-01-16 07:37

    atwood's splendid deconstruction and then reconstruction of the ties that can exist between women is one of her more pleasurable novels. it is full of fascinating references to fairy tales; discovering the parallels to rapunzel, sleeping beauty, and cinderella (to name just three) is an ongoing delight and the title character herself is so mysteriously poisonous yet malleable in her many faces that she becomes almost mythic. just as enjoyable is the deftness and richness of the characterization. atwood knows how to write characters who live and breathe, who think thoughts that are so true to life yet who still manage to surprise the reader with the decisions they make. and it should go without saying that the author's mastery of irony, of the poetic metaphor, of language itself, is present in spades.

  • C.
    2019-01-06 06:37

    I'm in several minds about this book, because I am head-over-heels in love with Cat's Eye by same, and a lot of this reads like Cat's Eye shifted a couple of spaces to the left.The reason I love Cat's Eye so unreasonably is, and it's time to stop pretending this isn't true, primarily because of some things that happened in my life sometime between (approx.) my sixth and seventh readings (though I use the term 'reading' loosely) of it, and so my love for it is all bound up rather painfully with all sorts of other things. It's compulsive and a little scary in its intensity and it's not something I have a say in, at all. I could say that I don't think there is any book that means so much to me, I could say that no book had such a profound effect on me, but neither of them are quite right.Anyway. So it was much to my surprise that I wander in my vague way into The Robber Bride and it's like Cat's Eye keeps poking through the gaps. Mostly this is in the writing style, which is much more similar to that of Cat's Eye than I noticed in any of the other four of Atwood's books I've read. There are the simple, deadpan sentences, infused with a sort of melancholy that I've never seen anywhere else. The cute strings of rhetorical questions, placed like discussion questions for the conscientious reader. The use of an academic field as a metaphor (history rather than quantum mechanics - I think it works better). Twin imagery, though it's multiplied into quadruplets this time. Damaged women. Unreliable men. Villains with mildly unusual names. Difficult childhoods. I could go on.And I was a bit surprised to find myself sighing in a here-we-go-again kind of way when I came across this. I thought I loved everything about Cat's Eye, but maybe I don't love the writing so completely, or I don't love everything about the writing so completely. Maybe I've been confusing familiarity with fondness again - ever done that? I do it with music all the time: when I've heard a song over and over again, especially when I've heard it while I was having fun, like, say, at parties, I am completely unable to tell if I genuinely like it or not. Difference is I don't care or know all that much about music.___________________________________It's all there! She even reused the thing about painting the apartment black to annoy the landlords, though in Cat's Eye it was only one room (the bathroom was red) while in The Robber Bride it's the entire flat. Which in a way works for the whole thing - I knew beforehand that The Robber Bride was in many ways the sequal, thematically speaking, to Cat's Eye, so maybe it shouldn't have come as such a surprise. But everything in this is like a slightly bigger version of the things in Cat's Eye.It's too early in the book - not even halfway - for me to be saying this, but I do. It bothers me deeply. It's offensive, because Cat's Eye was perfect. It was written for me, and only for me. How dare she write another book so similar? It's kind of upsetting.___________________________________Oh man! Ok, I'm over my earlier malaise. I fucking love this book! I fell in love with it for good while Karen was discovering Charis (I don't care what that says about me as a person), and it is. so. amazing. I can't remember the last time I was so enthralled by a book. There are so many things she does so well, and one of them is relating the experience of being a woman. In Cat's Eye, she did some brilliant work about what it's like to be a little girl. In this one, it's about older women and I think I'm a bit too young to appreciate most of it - the action really only starts when the characters are a few years older than I am now. But I'm just getting to the stage where I'm drifting apart from a lot of the women I was friends with at school; we don't have much in common any more, but if we were good enough friends, our shared experiences are enough to maintain the friendship. The only thing Tony, Charis and Roz have shared is a bit of a train wreck; but they survived it together, and that's enough! It's enough! "Only with them do I have no power." Fucking amazing.___________________________________Young Roz and Old Charis aren't one hundred percent convincing, but Tony I love. Tony is a character I can believe in. Tony is a person I'd really like to meet. Unfortunately she'd be so much shorter than me that I might have trouble hearing what she was saying (this has happened to me before), but probably if there are no other short people around it would be ok. West I also kind of like. He's still an idiot, but I can imagine falling for a West, though I'd never fall for a Billy or a Mitch.I'm not convinced by this structure she uses. I think it's too rigid, and too predictable. Though kudos to her for not making Roz's childhood as unbearable as the other twos'. Her male characters are so stupid, it's incredible. If anything she hates men, not women.I didn't like Roz's childhood because it was written too much like Elaine's, but without all the loving work and detail that really made Elaine's work.This is interesting to read as a social history, as well. These women are twenty or so years older than my parents, so while the lives they live are superficially similar, there are many things in them that are different. I've never read anyone who writes about the war experience like Atwood does, in both this and Cat's Eye. Similarly, I've seen in other people's reviews comments about the way she writes about the feminist movement and the experiences of women. I don't know enough about this period in history to say if I think her approach is anachronistic or anything, but it's darned interesting. I'm used to the writing again (and I seem to remember now that it always took me a while to get into it with Cat's Eye too), but there are still a lot of little things coming up that she also used in Cat's Eye, and it still annoys me quite a lot. It feels like cheating, though I understand why she does it.I love this book. I love Margaret Atwood. This is what reading should be about.______________________________________This book was like the best present ever! You know, the thing that you never suspected you wanted or needed because you didn't know it existed, but which is completely and utterly perfect! (Probably even more so than a Virginia Woolf t-shirt, though it's a close one.) And once you've got it, you have no idea how you ever survived without it. It suddenly seems (though I haven't thought about this properly, so don't quote me or anything) that there isn't nearly enough literature out there about the day-to-day experience of being a woman. And this is probably all the fault of the patriarchy. Whatever, but this book! I've been reading too much for my own edification recently, I'd forgotten what it was like to enjoy reading so much. I know this book is full of flaws, and I can't say I liked it as much as Cat's Eye (duh), but I enjoyed it enough to give it five stars and I even seriously considered putting it on my 'ab-fav' shelf.______________________________________*** BIG FAT SPOILERS START HERE ***In the back of my book there's some writing in greylead pencil. It's my handwriting, and though I don't remember writing it, it seems like something I might do. This is what it says:Is Zenia real or imaginary? Or both? Zenia traumatised the three women, but may also have done some good. Shadow figure/doppelganger: represents their numerous repressed selvesThere's something in this, I think. Because (arguably with the exception of Tony, and they got back together again anyway) they were in pretty unhealthy relationships, which Zenia managed to break up - liberating them, in a way. Also, although what Zenia did to them was pretty bad, what happened in their childhoods was worse. Or so it seemed to me.Besides, get this quote from Charis:"Karen is coming back, Charis can't keep her away any more. She's torn away the rotting leather, she's come to the surface, she's walked through the bedroom wall, she's standing in the room right now. But she is no longer a nine-year-old girl. She has grown up, she has gone tall and thin and straggly, like a plant in a cellar, starved for light. And her hair isn't pale any more, but dark. The sockets of her eyes are dark too. dark bruises. She no longer looks like Karen. She looks like Zenia."It's Elaine and Cordelia all over again!__________________________________________More thoughts (still spoiler-y)I think the key to understanding this book is to look at it as a sort of modern-day fairy tale. There are a few obvious elements of the supernatural, most notably Charis's vision (or rather the fact that it turns out to be correct), but also the tarot cards and Charis's grandmother's healing powers. It's easy to write off the last two as coincidence and the overactive imagination of a disturbed child, but the vision is too much to ignore. I originally thought it was kind of weird and clumsy, because the rest of the book is so realistic, but now I think maybe it's a clue - a clue that nothing should be taken literally.The title is another, more obvious clue. As explained is made clear in the book, it's a reference to The Robber Bridegroom, one of Grimm's Fairy Tales (Trevor describes it in detail in his review). Apart from the obvious and less-obvious (I'll have to read the fairy tale itself and possibly this book again before I can understand it properly, I think) parallels between that story and this one, there are quite a few aspects of the book that I found perplexing at first, but which make sense if you think about it in terms of fairy tales.Firstly, the structure: although I loved being absorbed into each character's life, I found the structure to be a bit too rigid. I didn't like the way each part was so similar, and the way there were so many parallels between the lives of each character and the way each of their stories was told. The part at the end where they each confront Zenia one by one seemed especially contrived. But it makes more sense if you think about it as a fairy tale: those stories rely on repetition. The knights each try to rescue the princess, and each one goes through almost exactly the same process, which is described with minor differences but otherwise in identical, repetitive, exhaustive detail each time. It's like that that Tony, Charis and Roz each track down Zenia and attempt to defeat her.It amazed me also how close each of them came to being bewitched by her, in those last confrontations, despite how well they knew her by that time. This makes more sense if you see her as having some sort of magical powers which she uses to (attempt to) cast a spell over them. This also explains, for me, the ridiculousness of the male characters, because if you take away the ease with which Zenia manages to ensnare them and the hold she has over them even after she dumps them, they're believable (though still pretty despicable). So I guess she bewitched them too.Which brings me to Zenia. It doesn't make sense to see her as 'imaginary', as I wrote above, because it's obvious that people other than Roz, Charis, Tony and their s.o.'s see her and interact with her. So if she's imaginary, that implies they must be under some form of mass delusion, which doesn't make sense. It makes more sense to see her as some sort of magical being, or as Jamie said, a force - or, as Moira said, something the three women managed to conjure up. Or as a doppelganger containing parts of their repressed souls. Any of those interpretations work. In fact, what I loved most about Zenia's character is her ambiguity - the fact that we never understand anything about her, where she really comes from, who she really is, why she does what she does. She's completely unbelievable, which makes sense if she's actually not supposed to be a real person.Even the ending makes more sense. I didn't like it at first - it seemed too much like a murder mystery, or something, and the building up with all the suspense to the huge finale with the body seemed to be beneath Atwood. But it's kind of ok for fairy tales to finish like that? And if you see Zenia as being a sort of magical golem that was created by Tony, Charis and Roz, then it makes sense that she should die once they have all 'defeated' her. That is, defeated her by resisting the spells she attempts to cast on them. It is only their belief in her, or their belief in her ability to destroy them, that sustains her.So, the final question is, does this work? I'm not sure. It's pretty trippy. I think this is the kind of book that could be quite unsatisfying if you just try to understand it at a superficial level, as a good story, because there are quite a few things that just don't gel. But this is why I love Atwood (among like a billion other reasons) - it's so easy to get into a deeper analysis of what she's doing, and once you do, it's so satisfying. I'm loving this book more and more the more I think about it. It's definitely not as tightly constructed as Cat's Eye, which I think comes much closer to being a perfect book, but it's wonderfully dark and gloriously experimental. Weird as it may seem, I'm adding it to my fantasy shelf.____________________________________Even More ThoughtsI'm confused by Atwood's stance on feminism, and a superficial google search did nothing to clear things up. What she said about it seems not only slightly contradictory but far more naive than I'm willing to give her credit for. I do wonder, though, if she's more referring to the mainstream feminist movement when she says she's not a feminist? Her characters' disillusionment with it is pretty obvious in both Cat's Eye and The Robber Bride. And their reasons for their disillusionment are excellent. She pokes it full of holes.I don't know, is it weird that I find the way she writes about women kind of empowering? It just seems so holistic (not the right word), so accepting (not the right word) and almost... celebratory (not the right word) of all aspects of women's existence. Like Moira suggests this book can be read as a satire about what happens when women suppress their supposedly negative qualities. Reading it to me feels like she's defying all the stereotypes and just saying - be. How is that not feminist?Martine calls this book 'intelligent chick lit'. I kind of like that - maybe my problem is that I don't read enough (read: any) chick lit because I find it mind-numbingly boring. Maybe it's just refreshing to read someone writing intelligently about women._________________________________Atwood-isms that I marked because they're awesome"Karen wasn't allowed to visit her mother's body in the coffin because Aunt Vi said it was too shocking a thing for a young child, but she knew anyway what it would look like. The same as alive, only more so.""After that she could join a cult, or something. Be a monk. A monkess. A monkette. Live on dried beans. Embarrass everybody, even more than she does now. But would there be electric toothbrushes? To be holy, would you need to get plaque?"Back when I was studying Cat's Eye, everything I wrote came out sounding like Margaret Atwood. It's only now that I'm realising just how much of a permanent effect this has had. Outwardly it's gone, but down at the level of punctuation and syntax, I still write a lot like her.

  • Sarah
    2019-01-16 08:43

    Update: This review recently got a few likes, bringing it back to my attention. But, honestly? I'm ashamed of it. Because, I'm trying to pretend evil women don't exist. Zenia is obviously an exaggeration...but women and girls do awful things to each other. All the time.Back in school, I was horribly bullied by girls. Horribly. They'd hit me, shove me against the wall, walk up behind me and pull my skirt up above my waist, trip me as I was getting off the bus. Why do I pretend those things didn't happen? Female solidarity?We put "bad girls" on a pedestal. But we shouldn't. They're not heroes. They're jerks.Thank you, Margaret Atwood, for telling the truth.And, now that I have, maybe I can get some sleep!Original review:This book became more and more engrossing as I went along, and I kept changing my mind about it. Here, we're introduced to four women: Tony the detached intellectual, Charis the sensitive earth mother, Roz the hardy businesswoman, and Zenia the femme fatale. That alone makes for an interesting creative experiment, "The Golden Girls" in literary form. (Who knew Blanche Devereux could be so mean?)Underneath that, it's actually a book about our fears, how they manifest and where they originate. It's about the function and folly of persona. It's about the relationship between the past and the present. Atwood can be very dark and very cynical. Very, very. I disagree with the general consensus that women come off worse than men, overall, as the men in the book are philanderers, pedophiles, and war criminals, the lot of them. Zenia, herself, is less a character than a mirror held to the characters, stirring up their psyches and serving as a common focus between them.The prose isn't as lovely as that in "The Handmaid's Tale" though is still quite good. And, I've made a new friend in Charis. (Margaret, you were dreadful to her!)

  • Madeline
    2018-12-25 11:57

    "The story of Zenia ought to begin where Zenia began. It must have been someplace long ago and distant in space, thinks Tony; someplace bruised, and very tangled. A European print, hand-tinted, ochre-colored, with dusty sunglight and a lot of bushes in it - bushes with thick leaves and ancient twisted roots, behind which, out of sight in the undergrowth and hinted at only by a boot protruding, or a slack hand, something ordinary but horrifying is taking place.Or this is the impression Tony has been left with. But so much has been erased, so much has been bandaged over, so much deliberately snarled, that Tony isn't sure any longer which of Zenia's accounts of herself was true. She can hardly ask now, and even if she could, Zenia wouldn't answer. Or she would lie. She would lie earnestly, with a catch in her voice, a quaver of suppressed grief, or she would lie haltingly, as if confessing, or she would lie with a cool, defiant anger, and Tony would believe her. She has before." The story of three women - Tony, Roz, and Charis - who are friends thanks to their separate involvements with a woman they all knew at college. Zenia is beautiful, intelligent, and incredibly, unbelievably evil. At the beginning of the story it's established that she has died, but five years later the three friends go to lunch together and spot Zenia, very obviously alive. Shit proceeds to hit the fan in a very Atwood-like way, and it is amazing and terrifying.This book is the evidence I will produce if people ask me why I love Margaret Atwood so much. Unlike other female writers, whose books are usually along the lines of Men Ruin Everything For Us (I'm looking at you, Joyce Carol Oates), Atwood takes a different tactic. Her male characters are, at best, naive and easily manipulated - more children than men. At worst, they are still children, but more like playground bullies trying to prove their own superiority. None of them are ever aware that behind their backs the women are moving in their own separate world, wounding and betraying each other and generally being terrifying bitches. Even the nice women have secret mean streaks that are guaranteed to rear their heads at some point in the story. So in a nutshell, here's my point: Joyce Carol Oates frequently uses men as the reason for womens' problems (*coughBlondecough*) and clearly thinks they are naturally evil. Margaret Atwood, on the other hand, knows that women are a million times crueler than men can ever hope to be. To put it simply: Oates is a Lifetime Original Movie; Atwood is Mean Girls.

  • Alex
    2019-01-09 06:55

    Zenia is made of malice. She has no fear and no morals. She doesn't shrink from confrontation; she has no appreciation whatsoever for risk. She'll tell outrageous lies - cancer, rape, nothing is off limits. She'll spend an entire winter in an uninsulated shack on an island faking cancer, for what? Well, there is a plan, but it doesn't seem worth it. Mostly she just wants to cause pain.Specifically she wants to cause pain to these three specific women, who are parts of a whole. Tony, representing book smarts; Roz, street smarts; and Charis, who we might as well call soul smarts. Their stories, each of which are flashed back through in turn, contain parallels. Suicide, abuse, woodcutters, axe wounds. Coffee grinders. All three are providers. Everyone changes her name. They all to college together, with Zenia (pronounced Zeenia), who proceeds to steal their boyfriends one by one.It's not about the boyfriends, who are all utterly hapless. It's about them, right? Zenia is after the women and she uses men to hurt them. Or she's after money. Or she isn't after anything at all, she's just a force of pain. An "aphid of the soul." The Big Bad Wolf - in female form, because Roz's blazing twin daughters have demanded that all stories have only female characters. When she tells them the story of the Robber Bridegroom - a woman's fiance plans to kill and eat her - they demand it be changed to the Robber Bride. The woman is still a woman. They're both brides.So this is about women, friendship and enmity between women. Atwood loves to point out that "feminism is often hard going and hard won, sabotaged from within as well as without; that in the war between the sexes there are collaborators as well as enemies, spies, refugees, spectators and conscientious objectors." She loves a good traitor - nine-year-old Cordelia from Cats Eye, the wife holding Offred's hands as she's raped in Handmaid's Tale. Zenia is one of Atwood's best villains and one of literature's best villains. She's not to be made sense of. She's not to be made peace with. She can only be battled.

  • Maria Thomarey
    2018-12-29 09:46

    3,5 :η πρώτη μου Ατγουντ.... Και μετα ήρθε ο έρωτας

  • Snotchocheez
    2018-12-23 06:56

    With every book I read of Ms. Atwood's, my appreciation of her storytelling talent increases: her ability to construct metaphors that are spot-on and utterly unique; her genre-busting way of writing that defies pigeon-holing (though, it seems, many critics try to pin the "feminist" writer label on her); her method of describing her characters in a hyper-realistic and believable way. "The Robber Bride", while not without its faults (long-windedness, for one) is to me her best work. Her depiction of a triumvirate of friends bound together as a result of a common nemesis: a freak of nature named Zenia hell-bent on leaching onto their lives and stealing their husbands/boyfriends. Sorta-kinda loosely based on Grimm's "The Robber Bridegroom", Atwood turns the fairy tale on its head and comes up with a fairy-tale-esque story of her own, one grounded in reality, yet fanciful enough to be a delight to read.

  • Kirsten
    2019-01-04 06:58

    I read this as part of the 1000 Books To Read Before You Die challenge. Two thoughts that came to me as I read this book:1) Catherine Zeta-Jones would be perfect as Zenia!2) Is this a re-telling of the 3 Little Pigs?For the first 10-20% of this book, I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy it. I certainly (at first) didn't think it was up to Margaret Atwood's talent.But, after I got into it, I really enjoyed it. I loved the three women and their tales of their experiences with Zenia. It seemed to me Zenia was not so much the villainess of the piece, but a natural disaster that had to be survived. In the end, that was what it was all about. Survival. Also, they (the women) had to get a point where Zenia no longer had any power over them. Perhaps the story isn't the 3 Little Pigs, but the story of the Furies of Greek myth. Weren't there 3 of them too? Hmmm...

  • Rowizyx
    2019-01-01 04:38

    È un grande romanzo, onesto, brutalmente sincero sulle donne.Da un lato, parla con una delicatezza e con un'amara consapevolezza di violenze, di abusi, di tanti soprusi che molte donne nel mondo hanno subito e subiscono tutt'ora. Dall'altro, l'autrice dipinge quattro donne sicuramente molto complesse, ciascuna a modo suo, senza aver paura di modellare difetti, incertezze, lati negativi, meschinità. Parla delle donne a tutto tondo, secondo me: in particolare, della crudeltà che le donne possono esercitare una verso l'altra, un tema che spesso le femministe becere si dimenticano mentre dipingono una grande unita sorellanza contro il nemico kattivo, il maschio. E nei rapporti coi maschi, anche lì, la Atwood parla degli errori commessi dalle sue protagoniste, errori a prescindere da Zenia. Poi sì, c'è Zenia. Che non si può far altro che disprezzare. Non userò epiteti in qualche modo comunque sessisti per descriverla: Zenia è un cancro. Un virus, meglio, che si insinua nel guscio delle tre amiche fino a mandarlo in pezzi dall'interno, con una cattiveria e una determinazione fuori dal comune. Non ci vengono rivelati i suoi motivi per comportarsi così, probabilmente non li conosce neanche lei. Inventa mille storie per giustificarsi, per farla franca, e allo stesso continuare a manipolare le sue vittime, in un gioco crudele. E la sfacciataggine con cui si ripresenta, minimizzando l'accaduto di trenta, venti, dieci anni prima, pretendendo anche il ruolo dell'eroina che si è sacrificata per il bene delle altre tre, e ancora chiedendo, chiedendo, chiedendo. Un cancro, deciso a succhiare via ogni goccia di energia vitale nelle sue vittime prima di estinguersi.Non credo che non si possa fare altro che desiderare la distruzione di Zenia, il suo annullamento, durante la lettura. È una creatura spregevole, capace di raccontare le bugie più vergognose per instillare commozione e pietà nel prossimo, emozioni da sfruttare a proprio vantaggio fino a che le persone diventano inutili. Tuttavia, il romanzo si chiude con una domanda molto gelida: forse Zenia non assomiglia un po' alle altre tre? O loro a lei? Bel dubbio.Un altro bellissimo romanzo della Atwood (ma quale non lo è, alla fine dei conti?), coinvolgente da morire e ben strutturato nel parlare di tanti diversi temi sociali nelle storie personali delle protagoniste. Delle tre, la mia preferita è Tony, neanche a dirlo. Continuo a sentire dei parallelismi tra i libri della Atwood e Possessione della Byatt, non so se sono solo nella mia testa o meno, però mi piace come entrambe affrontano la questione femminista (specie in certi settori, come in particolare il mondo accademico) tenendosi ben lontane dagli stereotipi, parlandone con calma e consapevolezza. Notevole.

  • Leanne (Booksandbabble)
    2018-12-31 09:53

    This book is set in the early 90's Toronto and also the 1940's and 1960's. Each decade witnesses major world events such as World War 2, the Vietnam war, and the beginning of the Gulf war and recession. There is an element of unrest and unease from the beginning of this novel and it is with these events playing out on the world stage that we meet our characters. Tony,Roz and Charis come together to lunch, in 90's Toronto, in a restaurant called 'Toxique'. We are introduced to them in turn and find out that though they are each very different, they have remained good friends for a particular reason. Each woman has been hurt, manipulated and betrayed by another woman,Zenia, now believed to be dead but who, we soon find out, is very much alive and kicking. The three ladies leave the restaurant in total shock and the narrative then takes us to the defining moment in their lives when they first encountered Zenia. However, the narrative does not stop there it also takes the reader back further into the past and we witness the horrors and disappointments of their childhoods. The Robber Bride focuses heavily on mother-daughter relationships and shows the marks and scars it has left on the three women. Due to their negative pasts Tony, Charis and Roz have created another self and each woman has a split personality of sorts, which helps them deal with their lives and themselves as individuals. After reading about each of their childhoods, the reader can understand why they have allowed themselves to be taken in by Zenia and her lies. Each woman wants to fill a space, or an emptiness within them and Zenia, with all her skills, knows exactly how to worm her way in and be the person that can fill that void. The character of Zenia is a mystery, she tells three different tales of her childhood,and lies and manipulates with such ease. We never learn what her modus operandi is and that is one of the interesting parts of this novel. The Robber Bride is a wonderful novel the about rich inner lives of woman and the conflict fought in everyday life and not just on the battlefield. I highly recommend it.

  • Rain
    2019-01-10 07:43

    All this drama over these three losers? I just don't get it. I really don't understand women who find out that their husbands/boyfriends/girlfriends are cheating then go ballistic on the other women. What? The "other woman" is irrelevant, she took no vows, made no commitments, did not pledge her undying (faithful) love to you, the partner did. Really that's beside the point, just couldn't resist a mini-rant.I actually related to all four women as I seem to have met each of them at some point in my real life, but I didn't need to be told a thousand different ways what their inner lives were about. That's my chief complaint about this book and why I only gave it 2 stars...the telling and retelling of their internal obsessions and struggles became tedious. I would also like to have known more about Zenia, but I do respect the author's decision to leave her shrouded in mystery.Like some others have said, if this is your first encounter with Margaret Atwood, I strongly urge you to read one or two of her other books before reading this one.

  • Wendy
    2019-01-16 09:40

    Oh. Margaret, why hath thou forsaken me? This book sucked! Two stars is just me being generous, because it's Margaret Atwood. This was a boring daytime soap opera. It could have been written by Danielle Steele. Where is the feminism? Where is the sarcasm? The satire? The point? This far-fetched novel is about some desperately evil chick who emotionally tortures 3 women over 3 decades for no apparent reason other than she enjoys it. I couldn't be more bored and had to force myself to read it, like it was a history of Bulgarian ferret dentists, just so I can say I did. It was absolutely painful. Points for the three sentences about a gay kid coming out to his mom and the two paragraphs of feminist thought by the character Roz. The parts that weren't totally lame could have been summed up in less than a page.Big fat boo!

  • Samantha
    2019-01-07 04:57

    We've all known a Zenia. I know I certainly have. Here are some visual aides to conjure her up.For three friends—Tony, Charis, and Roz—Zenia has been the bane of their existence. Their erstwhile friend has conned them, betrayed them, and wreaked havoc on their lives ever since the '60s when they met in college. All four women are war babies. Zenia's specialty is finding people's vulnerabilities and exploiting them. She comes up with "custom-designed whopper[s]" that appeal to their weaknesses and convince them to let her in. And once she's in, there's no getting rid of her. She's a maneater, a liar, and a villain extraordinaire. But in 1985 our heroines are finally well rid of her when Zenia dies and they attend her funeral. Or so they think. Until five years later a very alive Zenia walks into the restaurant where they're having lunch. And their lives get upended again.The Robber Bride is a vastly entertaining novel. I love Margaret Atwood's writing. She has a way with descriptions like no one else and her stories are so original. This novel is perfectly constructed, moving fluidly through time. Atwood inserts flashbacks within flashbacks like nobody's business and the present day story grounds the novel. And the characterizations! Tony, Charis, and Roz are so well fleshed out I felt I was getting three novels' worth of content in one novel. Their backstories and psyches are that excellently drawn. I cared deeply for all three women and I loved the sisterhood they developed in the face of Zenia.This book expertly moves from the emotional to the absurd to the fable-like to the hilarious. This story is deeply moving and very funny. It's the perfect balance of so many things. I feel like I lived several lives reading it. It's a joy to read.

  • Beth F.
    2019-01-04 09:59

    Reading this book was like wading into a lake that has a predictable downward slope. Your ankles get wet and you take a few more steps because you feel like taking a leisurely soak. Pretty soon your knees are wet. And then your thighs, your hips, your waist, your—AHHHHH--!!!And then all of a sudden you find you’ve just hit a major drop-off and half of a nanosecond later you are all the way in, whether you wanted to be or not. I started this book and thought it was just sort of okay. Atwood’s prose is very poetic. Sometimes that works for me and sometimes it doesn’t; it depends on the subject matter. And this one didn’t grab me straight off the bat and I kept putting it down so I could sneak off and read other things. But somewhere past page 100ish, give or take, I got seriously hooked and I found myself thinking about this book when I wasn’t reading it and wishing I had one of those jobs where I could read at work. It’s also over 500 pages long so I’ve been blissfully immersed in this book all week. Ahh, bliss. The story itself is sort of simple aaaand sort of not. I’ll try to explain. The main characters are four women. Three of them belong to a misfit and mismatched group of friends who went to the same college but were never friends in the traditional sense because they have almost nothing in common. Tony is a mousy college professor who is fascinated by war and recreating battle scenes using spices from her kitchen spice cabinet. Charis is a bit of a social pariah and a dreamer who never finished school and keeps food on the table by working part-time at a new age crystal shop. And Roz is an outspoken businesswoman who inherited most of her wealth from her family but has gone on to make a name for herself in the business world in Toronto. The only thing they have in common is that they all despise a fourth woman named Zenia, who had tragically died in an explosion in Lebanon, five years before the novel begins.Supposedly.Atwood doesn’t explicitly reveal the reason they hate her so much at first, although you’re pretty sure it has something to do with boyfriend or husband stealing and something to do with some other vague bitchy stuff that women get tangled up in, but…ummm? It’s unclear, so the nasty, rabid comments Tony, Charis and Roz continually make towards Zenia at the start of the novel did not make much sense at first. But Atwood hints that the explanation is forthcoming and that was what kept me reading, even before I was totally sold on the story. I had to know whether the things Zenia actually did were really as bad as these women were claiming. And they were. Really, really evil, that is. Giving each woman her turn, Atwood devotes a huge chunk of the middle of the novel to explaining each woman’s background, her childhood and how those things laid the framework for the kind of person she would grow into being as an adult. Atwood makes a strong case for “nature vs. nurture” by showing how each woman’s childhood experiences laid the framework for the kind of person she would grow into. Their childhood problems ranged from abandonment, coping with the suicide of a parent, sexual abuse, family mental health issues and growing up with a parent who is a cheat, a liar and a thief. And obviously there is lifelong baggage that comes from growing up with any of these situations (which every human being is painfully aware of—we all haul around our own set of emotional baggage for a variety of different reasons). So what would happen if a venomous friend waltzed into your life, sensed your weaknesses based on this baggage and used this knowledge to skillfully manipulate that which you hold near and dear to your heart, all the while making you feel worthless, like less than a woman and like a total failure. For Tony, Charis and Roz, that person is Zenia. Zenia is a chronic liar. A cheat. A thief. A chameleon. I almost want to call her a sociopath, except she never actually killed anyone, at least, not directly, but she never showed any remorse for the awful things she said and did. She was a truly venomous human being who had the ability to suck her victims souls out through their noses, all the while putting her arm around their shoulders and gently patting their heads so they didn’t realize what was happening until it was too late. This novel was thoroughly enjoyable. Margaret Atwood is an extremely gifted novelist and she has just earned another fan. I can’t wait to read some more of her work.

  • Chris Dietzel
    2018-12-31 06:58

    This was a challenge to become invested in; after 200 pages I still didn't care about the characters or the story. Part of this, I think, is due to the ambitious approach Atwood takes to the type of story she is telling and the way the plot unfolds. The second half becomes typical Atwood and by the end I was enjoying it. In term's of the author's pure literary fiction, I would still recommend The Blind Assassin and Surfacing much more than this one.

  • Jessica
    2018-12-28 11:56

    This book has become comfort reading me -- there's no telling how many times I've read it. Atwood has a remarkable skill for revealing how her characters think, which is a separate facet of characterization, so different from describing a character's personality or way of life. Of all the fascinating women in this book, Tony is my favorite. I identify not with her personality, but with the way she thinks.

  • Sonya
    2019-01-02 06:34

    یک رمان 700 صفحه ای جذاب و قابل تامل از یک نویسنده ی زن و روایتی حول حوادث زندگی سه زن با شخصیت های متفاوت (تونی،کرز،رز) که هر سه با حوادث متفاوتی با زنی جذاب به نام "زینیا"در ارتباط هستند.این داستان پر از زنان و دغدغه ها و مشکلات آنها است و همه ظاهرا از حیله ها و شرارت های یک زن ضربه خورده اند. این زن ها همه زنانی قوی و مستقل هستند که همسرانشان به نوعی وابسته به آنها می باشد، اما یک زن فریبنده با اغوای همسرانشان آنها را دچار مشکلات روحی می کند . شاید یک "زینیا " در زندگی همه ی زنان وجود دارد که او را مسئول ناکامی ها و سختی های زندگی اش بداند، اما شاید گاهی مواجهه با حقیقت های زندگی و .رودررو شدن با آن حتی بدست یک دشمن، سودمند باشدنویسنده حوادث جنگ جهانی و اثرات آن در سرنوشت این زن ها را در زمینه ی اثر به طور مفصل شرح داده و حتی مشاغل مختلف این زن ها و شخصیت های افراد خانواده آنها قابل تامل می باشد.قسمتی از کتاب: رئیس زن بودن کار سختی است. زن ها به چشم رئیس نگاهت نمی کنند. وقتی نگاهت می کنند زن بودنت را می بینند, با خود می گویند:«مثل من زن است, چی شده که این قدر خودش را گرفته؟» هیچ کدام از کلک های جنسی آنها در تو اثر نمی کند و هیچ کدام از کلک های تو هم در آنها اثر ندارد ... اگر سرشان داد بزنی , همان جا جلوی رویت گریه می کنند, نه در دستشویی, مثل وقتی که یک مرد سرشان داد بزند....آنها که در رنج اند وقت ندارند رنجی را که در دیگران ایجاد می کنند ببینند.

  • jo
    2019-01-11 10:57

    i approached this book the way i was told to approach it (no one in particular said anything, but i got the general idea) and, well, i don't like books about nastiness. you know, books about psychopaths, serial killers, and the like. not my cup of tea. the sociopath here would be zenia. but slowly it dawned on me, thanks in part to having read Dept. of Speculation (as i type this i don't know why, but maybe it will be clearer to me by the end of this review), that this book is not about zenia. not even close. this book is about tony, charis, and roz. you start getting this when atwood unravels slowly (something she never does for zenia) their stories, starting from their childhoods. and these childhoods are invariably horrible. so much abuse, so much loneliness, so much abandonment. later, they tie themselves to men who are much more valuable to them in retrospect, after zenia has worked her black magic on them. when atwood gives them -- these men -- to us unvarnished, un-zenia-ed, un-mourned, well there is pretty much nothing redeemable about them, and no reason at all why these women should stay with them. except they (the women) are so hurt. they are so mauled by their terrible childhoods. so they stick to what they think they deserve. because bad, cruel companionship is better than no companionship at all. zenia is a cypher. she is the empty form into which these three deeply injured women pour their demons. and zenia delivers. she delivers in spades. she takes the demons out of the box and smacks them powerfully into each woman's face. and in the process, she does them a favor. except they don't know it, do they? they hate zenia, which is awesome because this possibly saves them from hating themselves (as victims do: they don't hate the perpetrator, they hate themselves) too much. and she brings them closer to each other. the magic, the true white magic of the book is the care, the unjudgmental care (and yes, they may be snippy occasionally in their thoughts, but oh do they come through for each other!), the love tony, charis and roz have for each other. their demons bring them together, and, because deflected on another, manage not to tear them apart. but here's another piece of magic atwood performs (because, really, com'on, who can write like this? who? no one, that's who). atwood takes these three women and gives as complete a picture of the complexities of three women's lives (not femininity, not womanhood, but many of us will still find ourselves there) as is humanly possible. in doing this, she covers with astounding meticulousness: fashion (for lack of a better word), natural eating, comfort eating, fancy-restaurant eating, farming, gardening, sexual abuse, religion (please check the fantastic chapter in which roz gives us a pretty formidable account of the christian faith), romantic love, parental love, childhood, loss, boating, corporation running, history, war, weaponry, battles, battlefields, language, etymology, escaping the US draft, desire, motherhood, loneliness, internal decoration, running a woman's magazine, toronto, canada, etc. etc. etc.*so for this alone, for atwood's astounding power to observe and describe, for her capacity to capture lives in such an infinite multitude of aspects and reflections and refractions, i proclaim her the best writer ever. (not really). (but). (kinda).*spectacularly missing, as always in atwood: race and, to a significant extent, same-sex desire.

  • Chris
    2018-12-24 07:59

    The first Atwood novel I read was The Handmaid’s Tale. If I touch the book, I can remember that first reading. Devouring the book as I lay on the couch, the leather cool despite the fact that it was a sweltering Philadelphia summer, I remember being torn between the desire to read the book, the desire to watch the Bulgaria with its cute goalie in the World Cup, and the need to walk the dog. Despite the strong memory and the fact that I have taught it, The Handmaid’s Tale is not my favorite Atwood novel. The Robber Bride is. I brought and read this book soon after I read Tale. I have read this book countless times, and each time I re-read it, I find myself looking forward to certain parts, Tony’s eating of the armies for instance, yet I cannot skip forward to those parts. That would be the worst kind of cheating. There is something far more compelling about this book than the immediate danger of Handmaid’s Tale. Perhaps it is because the central characters are wonderfully drawn. The women are real and not perfect. Roz, Tony, Charis, each woman has her own section of the novel. Even though Atwood uses a third person narrator, the style subtlety shifts when each woman takes center stage. There are four different styles, one for each of the three women, and the last an impersonal narrator, not Zenia but someone else. Perhaps part of the compulsion comes from the mysteries that are kept mysterious, like the character of Zenia herself. It is fascinating how the different stories intersect and overlap. Each tale, each back-story, reflects and sometimes refines an aspect of another. Certain patterns repeat. Atwood not only examines the battle of the sexes, but the battle that occurs between the members of the same sex. We want to believe in sisterhood, but Atwood is wise enough to know that sometimes the oddest things make a sisterhood, and sometimes sisterhood does not exist at all. Despite Zenia’s evil aura, the reader is fascinated by the character. We want to pluck at her mystery, we want her to change, even as we know that her latest plot is going to harm Roz or Tony or Charis, all of whom we care deeply about. We know when Zenia is lying, and we can see though story after story, yet we always want the story to end differently. But we know it won’t. Atwood’s ability to put in the reader in the same situation as Roz, Tony, and Charis is simply amazing. This is the first time I have read the book since my visit to Toronto last year. When I was there, Toronto was in this midst of celebrating books that were set in the city. Most of the book stores I went into had displays of non-fiction and fiction (and I discovered Fragile Pieces). Yet, Atwood seemed conspicuous by her absence. Is it because her portrayal of Toronto, in this book, isn’t a blind lover’s sonnet? She captures a city in a midst of a recession, and it is hardly going to be a pleasant description. The city, however, is has much of a character as any of the women in the novel. Was she absent because it was over ten years after the publication of the book? That hardly seems fair considering some of the other authors on display. It did a disservice to this wonderful book.

  • Pam Baddeley
    2019-01-15 10:52

    This isn't the type of book I generally read, but it had the attraction of apparently being based upon a Grimm's fairy tale, although it seems not closely, and with the twist that the original was the Robber Bridegroom, a man who literally ate his young brides. In this, Zenia is a femme fatale, a 'man eater' who preys upon men in order to enrich herself financially, but more importantly, to inflict misery on their wives and girlfriends out of sheer spite.The story opens with three women who believe that Zenia, who deceived them all and lured away their partners - though in Tony's case he did eventually come back - is now dead. They are horrified when she walks into a restaurant while they are eating lunch. Then we go back in time with each character in turn, not only to learn how she met Zenia and how Zenia - more a mythic force of evil than a real woman - wrecked havoc in the character's life, but ultimately back through that character's life to her childhood where we see what moulded her. Zenia is a pathological liar who takes on exactly the persona needed, in each case, to prey on her victim's weakness. It's as if Zenia intuitively picks up on the hurts of the other woman's childhood.One important aspect of this story is the time in which it is set: 1991. All three women are now middle aged, two with grown children. The only one who has managed to 'keep' her man is Tony, and her wimpish husband West is almost a surrogate child, whereas the other two are really better off without the men in question - one a serial philanderer who, although a succesful lawyer, seems to have sponged off his wife Roz's greater wealth, and the other a lazy freeloader and draft dodger. The women are devastated by their other halves' infidelity with Zenia which is more hurtful than their financial losses, and only Roz is hard nosed enough to not take her husband back when she sees he is still besotted and would go after Zenia again like a shot. However she still suffers massively from hurt and guilt (view spoiler)[to the point of blaming herself and taking pills and booze which land her in hospital when he commits suicide (hide spoiler)]. All three women come over by today's standards as going to incredible lengths to kowtow to the men and keep unpleasant truths away from them, such as Zenia's blackmailing of Tony, and the men all have an infantile character (apart from a super-efficient male assistant of Roz's who turns out to be gay), but as they had grown up in the 1950s, this is not altogether suprising, and the next generation, in the shape of Roz's and Charis' daughters, are much more clued up and fearless. Zenia herself remains a mystery to the end, but this seems to be the writer's intention as she is really a force of nature rather than a human being. The most positive element of the story is the strong and supportive friendship that the three women show each other, which remains their deepest and most stable relationship, given the tension between the two mothers and their offspring.