Sunday, January 18, 2015

Book review: The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood

Back cover blurb:  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 restaurant for their monthly lunch when in walks the seemingly resurrected Zenia...

Notes while reading...

About the book

For me, The Robber Bride is about personal and global wars. Why the anger? What do you gain? Is it worth the struggle? In the end, what are you left with? Is there a better way?

The Robber Bribe is told by three women. Their stories are linked together through one person -- Zenia. We follow each woman through this book -- through their own eyes, their own thoughts -- and the experience helps to define them.


In walks the "friend" that is supposed to be dead. It's like when pure evil enters the scene and the candle flame dances in the breeze. 

Why is she there? She should be dead? They all think. Then they think she's making us feel uncomfortable. It's not us that should be feeling that way -- it's her.

Tony (educated. professor. historian. wife. childless. )

Tony lets Zenia into the deepest part of herself. Tony reveals her greatest wound to Zenia. Tony tells Zenia about her estranged mother. Zenia lasps the story up like a kitten drinking milk. 

'This is the first time Tony has ever said very much to anyone about her mother... Zenia ... can see it's a painful subject for Tony, but this doesn't deter her; if anything it spurs her on. She pushes and prods and makes all the right noises, curious and amazed, horrified, indulgent, and relentless, and pulls Tony inside out like a sock.' (p. 152)
Zenia wiggles into Tony's life, uses her, wringles her out, stuffs her full of things that Zenia will be able to use later and then she's ready comes back into Tony's life and makes withdrawals. Tony is left to pick-up the pieces.

Chrisa (new age "hippie". single mother)

Zenia stole something from her. Ever since suffering this lose, Chrisa has been investing a lot more in herself -- building a happy life.

Chrisa is growing into her own happiness. She's learning healthy ways to release the unhappiness she feels. She's learning to take pleasure in what she has, instead of grieving what she's lost. But she feels her daughter, Augusta, judging her.

Roz (business woman. single mother.)

Roz's home life is like one of those English family comedy movies from the 1960s. 

Zenia is given the most life, the most power in Roz's life. Did Roz pay the most?

'[W]hen the women's movement hit town in the early seventies, Roz was sucked into it like a dust bunny into a vacuum cleaner.' (p. 394)

The men...

'Zenia says coolly "Mitch was a creep. Roz is better off without her." ' (p. 462)

West is weak; Billy is lazy; Mitch is unfaithful. I wonder if Zenia did Tony, Charis and Roz a favour by destroying their relationships with these men.

Atwood's writing

When Atwood wants to introduce back-story, she writes, 'For instance'. So simple; so effective.

I love this quotes... 'Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of women. A mother knows.' (p. 95)

Concepts to mull over... 'Perhaps the soul breaks up as the body does, and only parts of it are reborn, a fragment here, a fragment there.' (p. 508)

'The dead return in other forms ... because we will them to' (p. 525)

If you enjoy reading The Robber Bride you might also enjoy reading...

The Secret Life of Bees

Oh, yes, and Margaret Atwood has written a diverse collection of 55 books. No doubt you will find more books that interest...delight... inspire...entertain  you among them. Her latest book is Stone Mattress

Next Post:  Monday, January 26th:  Writers, how do you attract readers?

Sharing my author journey...

Last week's theme song:  Happy by Pharrell Williams

Submissions sent this month:  7
(3 more than last January)

Works in progress:  2 novellas
1 short story collection