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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book by Margaret Atwood
THE ROBBER BRIDE by Margaret Atwood
THE ROBBER BRIDE is yet another cleverly written novel by Margaret Atwood, who most recently was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2003 for her apocalyptic book ORYX AND CRAKE. THE ROBBER BRIDE follows a similar theme as her novel CAT'S EYE, in which four girls form a clique of friendship, while one of the girls becomes the ring...
Published on December 14, 2003 by Ratmammy

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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointingly anti-climactic
Being an Atwood fan, I was eager to read The Robber Bride. Novels like The Handmaid's Tale prepared me for rich descriptions and thought-provoking prose. I can't say that this novel disappointed in its plot twists or lush characterizations of its protagonists. However, I do not agree with many of the reviewers who believed that this was a masterpiece. I read to the...
Published on August 1, 1998


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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book by Margaret Atwood, December 14, 2003
By 
Ratmammy "The Ratmammy" (Ratmammy's Town, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Robber Bride (Paperback)
THE ROBBER BRIDE by Margaret Atwood
THE ROBBER BRIDE is yet another cleverly written novel by Margaret Atwood, who most recently was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2003 for her apocalyptic book ORYX AND CRAKE. THE ROBBER BRIDE follows a similar theme as her novel CAT'S EYE, in which four girls form a clique of friendship, while one of the girls becomes the ring leader, tormenting one of the other girls endlessly till near-tragedy strikes. However, in THE ROBBER BRIDE, we are now looking at four women, whose history begins in college.
Roz, Charis, and Tony were acquaintances during their college years. Their one link was a mutual "friend" named Zenia, a friend that eventually turned on each of them later on in their lives and practically destroyed them in order to get what she wanted from them.
The book is very complex, as the author takes us back and forth in time, telling the story of each of the women and their relationship with each other and with Zenia. What's interesting is that without Zenia, none of these women would have kept in contact. But as each one finds out what a snake Zenia can be, they bond and through the years they continue their friendship. Zenia then dies, and the women feel they are safe and can move on with their lives. But, then one day while they are out at a restaurant, one of them thinks she has spotted Zenia...
I found THE ROBBER BRIDE to be riveting and very intense. I feel that out of all the books I have read by Margaret Atwood, this was the most powerful of them all in terms of emotion and passion. This is not to say that her other books were any less than this one, but I remember feeling a lot of angry feelings as I read it. Margaret Atwood is truly a talented writer, and what makes me want to read her other books is that each book she writes is different from the next. She doesn't use a formula; she re-invents herself with each new book. I rated THE ROBBER BRIDE five stars and I highly recommend it. Margaret Atwood fans will love it.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining, but not your typical Atwood novel, June 6, 2005
By 
Melissa Niksic (Chicago, IL United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Robber Bride (Paperback)
Margaret Atwood never disappoints! "The Robber Bride" tells the story of three 50-something Canadian women who come from very different backgrounds. There's Tony, a history professor with an eccentric husband; Charis, a New-Age flower child; and Roz, a successful businesswoman. These women have one thing in common: they've all been duped by Zenia, a former classmate of theirs who befriended each woman in turn and eventually stole all of their men. Although Zenia supposedly died in an explosion years ago, the women are stunned when she turns up in a restaurant one afternoon, still very much alive.

"The Robber Bride" constantly jumps back in time, telling each woman's individual story and explaining how the mysterious Zenia managed to dupe all of them. The characters are all very interesting, especially Zenia (for some reason I can picture Catherine Zeta Jones playing her in a movie adaptation of this book), but the novel lacks the depth and focus that is prevalent in Atwood's other books.

This is a very entertaining story, but it's not Atwood's best effort (although I did enjoy it).
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dazzling, a haunting story, January 13, 2000
By 
Catherine Page "scarlette" (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Robber Bride (Hardcover)
_The Robber Bride_ is one of my favorite books of all time, perhaps because I have one had a Zenia in my own past.
The plot of the book revolves around the view points of 3 different women who have had their lives and weaknesses betrayed and violated by the charismatic, beautiful, unforgettable and greedy creature known as Zenia. Throughout the book, though you'll meet Zenia many times, she will ultimately remain a mystery with only subtle hints to help you grasp at a truly deep understanding of her motivations. However, Zenia is not the point of the story - Zenia ia merely a catalyst, an /event/ which changes the lives of people around her.
We are drawn into three varient viewpoints during this story - those of Roz, Toni, and Charis. Roz is whipsmart, wealthy, and strident while on a more hidden level quite insecure and naive. Toni is highly intelligent, watchful, anti-social, unique in her personality quirks. Charis is an aging hippie, true, but her spirituality is true rather than false. Something within Charis is very pure, innocent, and will never be anything different. Each woman has different talents of insight, and each woman has blind spots about herself which the phenonmenon of Zenia will leave exposed and in some ways, damaged.
The point of this book is the tale of the three woman rather than Zenia herself, though I completely admit that Zenia is a fascinating character you won't soon forget. It is within the fabric of the characters that M. Atwood truly shines, I have rarely met three characters who were so *real* or complex, nor have I read a book which is so richly layered with subtle meanings. I think that the Robber Bride should be taught in school, as the more you probe into the book the more fascinating it becomes - in the end you might have more questions than answers, but that's what makes the book so haunting. You'll think about it for years afterwards, considering events, characters, subplots, meanings, language, quotes, and more.
Lastly, this book is quite quotable. Atwood has an amazing talent for metaphors which are so accurate and unique that you're startled and delighted when you trip over them by the mental images they provoke. This book also features my favorite opening paragraph of all time, which features a metaphor about fabric. The consideration of fabric is central to this book - the weaving of a story, and it's unravelling. Creating a story, and dismantling it to find the meaning. You'll enjoy the depth of this book, you'll enjoy the characters in this book, and you'll enjoy the phenomenal writing in this book. I'd force all of my friends and my mother to read it, and I wouldn't leave you out either.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A common loathing, September 28, 2005
This review is from: The Robber Bride (Paperback)
The story of "The Robber Bride" is told through the eyes of three women -- not really friends, in some senses of the word, but united by a long-time bond and a common loathing. The eponymous star of the book, Zenia, doesn't actually appear much in the story except through flashbacks; in fact, when the book begins, she is five years dead. Or so Tony, Charis and Roz believe.

The three women met in college, but their lives have since gone in very different directions. Tony, a professor of history -- or, more specifically, war -- is married, though childless, and her husband is somewhat fragile of spirit. Tony is solid, logical and often dispassionate. Charis is earthier, wrapped in new-age philosophies. She is unsure how to deal with her college-age daughter, and she still wonders what happened to her long-vanished husband, a Vietnam draft-dodger from the States. Roz is a typical mother of three (one post-college son and twin high school-aged daughters) and a wealthy businesswoman, president of her own diverse company.

Zenia is the woman who wrecked their lives, one at a time and years apart. With a multiple-choice past and an enigmatic present, Zenia has facades upon facades, schemes upon conceits, and she befriends people with ease before corrupting the best parts of their lives -- perhaps for no other reason than she can.

Margaret Atwood takes you deep inside each woman's skin -- except, of course, Zenia, who must remain a mystery -- peeling away layers of their lives and examining in white-knuckled detail the events, experiences and tragedies that shaped them. Each woman's narrative seems sufficient foundation for a book even without Zenia's intrusion; combined, "The Robber Bride" is a tapestry of carefully woven strands, seen individually and successively through each woman's perspective. The flow of flashbacks within flashbacks is effectively rendered, never confusing.

It is interesting to conjecture the different lives these women might lead if Zenia had not targeted their vulnerable places. Perhaps better, perhaps worse -- but far less interesting. "The Robber Bride" is a triumphant look at the core of three women and the multifaceted surface of the one who defined them.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A delicious, quick read, November 8, 2001
This review is from: The Robber Bride (Paperback)
The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood is a page-turner. It's the story of three very different 50-something women, Roz, Tony, and Charis, who have two things in common: they went to school with one another, and they were both horribly mistreated by a woman named Zenia. Zenia is a modern-day Helen of Troy, a woman whose face, breast implants, and devious, callous machinations result in a wave of destruction and man-eating.
Much to the women's relief, Zenia ends up dead and buried. They finally feel safe until one day, while they're at lunch, Zenia appears.
The novel traces each woman's explosive history with Zenia, braiding their lives together. They're the three witches of Macbeth, but they don't wait for thunder, lightning, and rain to get together. Instead, they hang out at a trendy restaurant called Toxique. Each woman has a very different personality and past, and each woman has at least one background story on Zenia. None of these stories match up, of course.
This is my one qualm about the book. We never do learn exactly who Zenia is, or why she's motivated to do those awful things she does so very well. She is a delicious villain, a Cruella de Ville of the literati, but what drives her?
At first glance, the story doesn't sound terribly interesting, and relies upon the stereotype of the poor, promiscuous, dupe of a husband, Margaret Atwood adeptly makes it into a wonderful black comedy.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointingly anti-climactic, August 1, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Robber Bride (Paperback)
Being an Atwood fan, I was eager to read The Robber Bride. Novels like The Handmaid's Tale prepared me for rich descriptions and thought-provoking prose. I can't say that this novel disappointed in its plot twists or lush characterizations of its protagonists. However, I do not agree with many of the reviewers who believed that this was a masterpiece. I read to the very last page and felt incredibly disappointed as Zenia turned from masterful seductress and manipulator into an uncontrollable, tactless failure. The uncharacteristic personality shift made the novel less believable. I felt that Atwood was looking for an easy end to this too-long novel and succeeded in making the denouement (and, in my opinion, anti-climax) hasty and unexplained.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put it down - vintage Atwood, January 20, 2001
By 
Ms Diva "cycworker" (Nanaimo, B.C. Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Robber Bride (Paperback)
This is the second Atwood novel I have read, and I found it even more difficult to put down than Cat's Eye. I also found it easier to understand. The characters, albeit a tad stereotypical and narrowly drawn, still managed to draw me in and in, fact, reminded me of various parts of myself. I found myself wondering if that was part of Atwood's point -- that we have a bit of Toni, Roz, Charis, and even Zenia in all of us. It was amazing to me how fascinated I was by Zenia, given how distant she was in the novel.
There were things that were not great about the book. The characters and some of the relationships were predictable. But that is to be expected with Atwood, who seems to address the same themes in all her writing -- the power relations between men and women, and how the female need for male acceptance impacts the relationships between women. One should read Atwood for the poetic nature of her writing; the stunning metaphors and the descriptions that haunt the reader long after the book is done.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, January 12, 2002
By 
MommaLeeO (Alexandria, VA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Robber Bride (Paperback)
This is ostensibly the story of three women who lose both their men and piece of themselves to a shifting illusion called Zenia. She alternately seduces and dumps the men belonging to Toni, a bespectacled war historian, Charis, a self-doubting but enlightened earth mother, and Roz, an irrepressible business woman and mother of three.
As the story unfolds through flashbacks, it becomes apparent that Zenia is not what she seems. This is really the story of how we so often refuse to see the truth about ourselves and our loved ones. Zenia is a mirror held up to each of our heroines (the ordinary kind) to reflect these truths.
The characterizations are wonderful. As the reader you get to go on a delicious voyeuristic romp through each of the three women's lives.
Overall, an enjoyable read with a good mix of entertainment and thought-provoking material.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ordinary People???, April 29, 2006
This review is from: The Robber Bride (Paperback)
Margaret Atwood is a master of rhetoric and one of our most talented and original literary voices. She is an imaginative and probing investigator of life and relationships. "The Robber Bride" offers us the opportunity to follow the lives of three women friends through three decades and to vicariously experience the plethora of destructive deeds heaped upon each of them by "the villainess" of the piece who systematically befriends and betrays each of them. Reading this book is akin playing with nesting dolls.....you keep opening them wondering what the next one looks like.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A women's story, March 25, 2004
This review is from: The Robber Bride (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this very funny and well written novel about three quite different women, Toni, Roz and Charise who have all been burnt badly by the same woman, Zenia, a femme fatale and "the robber bride". While the reader comes to know the three women through detailed accounts of their childhood years, Zenia and her motivations remain a mystery, at the very least she is a skilled liar and unscrupulous. One by one Zenia steals their men and their money, and they are all in turn led down the garden path by her, their own inner weaknesses making them easy targets for a predator like Zenia.
Some parts of the story were a bit far fetched. All the women seemed like caricatures, Toni the eccentric intellectual, Charise the spiritual New Age type and Roz the rich business woman, though this added to the comedy. It was hard to believe that all three women had only ever had one love in their lives, also Zenia seemed without a soul and the others without a libido.
Fine literature it is not but a great entertaining read none the less, especially for women who have ever encountered a "Zenia". Descriptions of Toronto were great too, neat to have a place I lived in described so well in a novel.
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The Robber Bride
The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood (Paperback - January 20, 1998)
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