The Robber Bride

( 18 )

Overview

From the extraordinary imagination of Margaret Atwood, author of the bestselling The Handmaid's Tale and Cat's Eye, comes her most intricate and subversive novel yet.

Roz, Charis, and Tony - war babies all - share a wound, and her name is Zenia. Zenia is beautiful and smart and hungry, by turns manipulative and vulnerable, needy and ruthless, the turbulent center of her own never-ending saga. Zenia entered their lives when they were in college, in the sixties; and over the three...

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The Robber Bride

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Overview

From the extraordinary imagination of Margaret Atwood, author of the bestselling The Handmaid's Tale and Cat's Eye, comes her most intricate and subversive novel yet.

Roz, Charis, and Tony - war babies all - share a wound, and her name is Zenia. Zenia is beautiful and smart and hungry, by turns manipulative and vulnerable, needy and ruthless, the turbulent center of her own never-ending saga. Zenia entered their lives when they were in college, in the sixties; and over the three decades since, she damaged each of them badly, ensnaring their sympathy, betraying their trust, and treating their men as loot. Then Zenia died, or at any rate the three women - with much relief - attended her funeral. But as The Robber Bride begins, she's suddenly alive again, sauntering into the restaurant where they are innocently eating lunch.

In this consistently entertaining and profound new novel, Margaret Atwood reports from the farthest reaches of the war between the sexes, provocatively suggesting that if women are to be equal they must realize that they share with men both the capacity for villainy and the responsibility for moral choice. The group of women and men at the center of this funny and wholly involving story all fall prey to a chillingly recognizable menace, which is given power by their own fantasies and illusions. The Robber Bride is a novel to delight in - for its consummately crafted prose, for its rich and devious humor, and, ultimately, for its compassion.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Set in Canada in the early 1970s, The Robber Bride continues Atwood's satiric exploration into sex and empowerment. Three women and the femme fatale who unites them are set against a backdrop of draft dodgers and the resurgence of feminism. Atwood is an astute observer of contemporary misinformation, and references to tarot, auras, astrology, and more abound. Despite some wonderful passages, however, the narrative thrust consists of self-contained vignettes that do not easily lend themselves to audio. The histories of these women are intense and distinctive, but the superficial present in which they do little more than move from restaurant to restaurant blurs them to the point of being interchangeable. When she stays with one character long enough (e.g., her treatment of Charis's incest-filled childhood at the start of the third tape), the poignancy increases. It's slow going, but a lively reading by Blythe Danner and musical interludes that accentuate the New Age mood should help keep maintain listeners' attention.
Michiko Katukani
. . .In a shorter, more focused book, [a] cartoonlike approach to writing might have resulted in a kind of darkly colored fairy tale. . . .Her characters [here] remain exiles from both the earthbound realm of realism and the airier altitudes of allegory, and as a result, their story does not illuminate or entertain; it grates.
The New York Times
From the Publisher
WINNER OF THE TRILLIUM BOOK AWARD
FINALIST FOR THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S AWARD FOR FICTION

“Atwood has never written better than in this novel of glittering breadth and dark, eerie depths.” The Sunday Times 

“A remarkable achievement, constantly entertaining and intriguing.” The Ottawa Citizen

“Funny, thoughtful, moving…. Atwood’s plotting is masterful, and her humor is razor-edged, sexy, and raucous.” The Washington Post

“Nobody maps female psychic territory the way Margaret Atwood does.…What a treasure she is.” Newsweek

“A hugely enjoyable novel.” Globe and Mail

“Brilliant and entertaining.” Boston Sunday Globe

“Brilliant and entertaining.” Ottawa Sun

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385491037
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/1998
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 237,473
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret  Atwood

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than forty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction, but is best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1969), The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. A book of short stories called Stone Mattress: Nine Tales was published in 2014. Her novel, MaddAddam (2013), is the final volume in a three-book series that began with the Man-Booker prize-nominated Oryx and Crake (2003) and continued with The Year of the Flood (2009). The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short fiction) both appeared in 2006. A volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination, a collection of non-fiction essays appeared in 2011. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth was adapted for the screen in 2012. Ms. Atwood’s work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian.
Margaret Atwood lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.
www.margaretatwood.ca
.

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    1. Hometown:
      Toronto, Ontario
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 18, 1939
    2. Place of Birth:
      Ottawa, Ontario
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of Toronto, 1961; M.A. Radcliffe, 1962; Ph.D., Harvard University, 1967
    2. Website:

Reading Group Guide

1. In The Robber Bride Tony says that people like Zenia don't get into your life unless you invite them in. What devices does Zenia use to first gain entry into the lives of Tony, Charis, and Roz? How does she alter her techniques to attract and control men?

2. On the surface, Tony, Charis, and Roz are not a bit alike yet similarities exist. For example, during their childhoods they each developed what could be called "dual" identities. How do the psychological devices they developed as children help or hinder them?

3. While seeming all-powerful, the constantly changing Zenia lacks a center of her own. Do women have to break rules and operate as outlaws to achieve the same power as men? Do women have a kind of power that is different from male power?

4. Is there a difference between the lies Zenia tells and those told by other characters in the novel? Are there "good" lies and "bad" lies? Do the hearers play a role in the construction of these lies?

5. Read the poem "The Robber Bridegroom, " reversing gender as you read. What does this poem tell us about the nature of evil?

6. The American writer Lewis Hyde has asked, "Why is the Trickster the Messenger of the Gods?" Is Zenia a trickster? Is she also a messenger of the gods, and how?

7. Think of female villains from literature and film. What do they seem to have in common? Is female villainy portrayed differently from that of men?

8. William Blake said of Milton's Paradise Lost that Milton often seemed to be of the devil's part without knowing it. Does Atwood have a sneaking sympathy for Zenia? Do you?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 18 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2003

    The Robber Bride

    The Robber Bride is a book full of twists and turns. It leaves on the edge of your seat and makes you want to keep on reading. Tony, Roz, and Charis met under odd circumstances. They had all been badly wounded by Zenia. Zenia is a vindictive character whose only pleasure comes from the hurt of others. Zenia befriends the three and then finds what would hurt each of them the most, the man in their life. Not only does Zenia take away each man, but she also finds it necessary to completely destroy each man. For Charis and Roz Zenia is successful in demolishing each man, but for Tony's beloved West she cannot win. Through out the story you become more acquainted with the three characters. All three have lost their husbands to Zenia. Margaret Atwood did a superb job with this novel. Her ability to makes you actually know the character makes the book some how comes alive. It's like you can relate to the characters. At one point they're eating lunch at Toxique and it's almost like you can see what they see. Atwood really gets into the minds of her characters. She shows you a simple instance, such as going out to eat, from each perspective. At times her language can be a bit confusing, but at the same time it intrigues you even more. I really like the fact that she chose three completely different characters and was able to bring them all together and make it work. The Robber Bride is a book for anyone who enjoys being engulfed by a piece of writing. I recommend this book to anyone.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2003

    Linda Lavid, author of RENTED ROOMS

    Whether you're a reader or a writer, this book is a classic. The three women and their long history with the elusive Robber bride will entertain the reader, mesmerize the writer. Atwood is at the top of her craft with this one.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2009

    Boring!

    I couldn't finish this book. The story sounded interesting but too many unnecessary descriptions left me bored beyond belief. I rated this book one star because zero star wasn't a choice. This was the first Margaret Atwood book I've read (tried too) and it is definitely the last. Yawn!!!! --K--

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2002

    The heart and soul of women!

    Atwood weaves a tale of 3 very different women ( Roz, Charis, & Tony) who are similar in their personal lives. These women attract men who use them for personal satisfaction and they allow themselves to become bulldozed by a very clever and ruthless woman, Zenia. The events of changing times - war,the drug culture, exploration of ones civil liberties, influences their future. Does Atwood interject some of her own experiences into the book?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2013

    Avoid all books where a main characters name starts with Z

    Especially in scifi fantasy Zphobic perhaps? unless Greek which is hard to avoid a Z name

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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