Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood

The story of Zenia ought to begin when Zenia began. It must have been someplace long ago and distant in space, thinks Tony; someplace bruised, and very tangled.

Title: The Robber Bride
Author: Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 0553569058
Publisher: Bantam Books/1993
Pages: 528

The Robber Bride is my third Margaret Atwood novel after The Handmaid's Tale and The Blind Assassin. I started reading this novel yesterday and despite the length, I finished it today.

The novel is set in Canada. Three friends Tony, Charis and Roz have something in common, a nightmare named Zenia. One who entered their lives thirty years back and destroyed their marital life taking away each of their men. Each has a festering wound which keeps hurting her again and again. Then one day they hear that she is dead and all three attend her funeral, and feel somehow freed from her snare. Until one day when all three meet for their monthly lunch in a restaurant and see Zenia returning from the she real, is she an apparition?

This novel deals with that issue which is any woman's worst nightmare..the other woman involved with the husband. Zenia is very beautiful, smart and hungry for attention. She is very manipulative, an expert on playing at being vulnerable and extracting sympathy. Somehow all three Tony, Charis and Roz too are thralled by her. They can't escape her, nor can they escape their past. Zenia destroys anyone she comes in contact with. She has the ability to play into the minds of all those who come into her periphery, be it West, Tony's Husband; Billy, Charis' husband, and Mitch, Roz's husband, who had killed himself.

Zenia, even in her absence, is very much present in their lives at every moment. They can't stop thinking of her. All three are different in personality, work and temperament yet bonded by a common factor known as Zenia. They are very supportive of each other. We get to know abot Zenia from each of the women's thoughts. Nowhere she is given a voice in the novel. This novel is about empowerment, differences of the sexes, coming into terms with ownself and acceptance.

While reading about each of Tony, Charis, and Roz's life, we too are thralled by Zenia. She captures us completely. We want to hate her yet something holds us back. Zenia has that kind of power over us too. The novel may deal with a heavy subject but it tackles it with wit and humour..the kind which hits hard. And we must not forget the wonderful prose which is Atwood's hallmark. Just when we think we have figured it all out, Atwood goes off in a tangent.

See also the review of it by:

Wendy of Caribousmom