Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Robber Bride

1993, 1995 Bantam edition
Margaret Atwood
The Robber Bride
Possibly bought newish for $6.50
Very worn paperback

Atwood again explores female friendship and frenemyship.  (Frenmity?)  The title character Zenia doesn't meet the trio of sort of heroines in childhood, like in Cat's Eye, but rather when they're all in college in the early '60s.  She proceeds to lie, steal their boyfriends/husbands and money, and generally mess with their minds.  She's such a supervillainess that she has three (3) villainess monologues!

What I liked best about the book was not the painful childhoods of the main characters, or their not very appealing romances.  I actually liked the everyday (to them, but unusual for others) stuff-- History professor Tony's adjustable relief map for reconstructing battles (with spices representing ethnic and national groups); the details of Charis's home on one of the Toronto Islands; and the way Roz interacts with her twins.  The triangular friendship wasn't bad but for too much of the book the three women are estranged.  Towards the end, they almost achieve a sort of Susan-Isaacs-like camaraderie, as the book shifts into mystery mode.  But as this isn't Atwood's territory, it comes across as cheesier than it does for Isaacs, especially those "confessions."

Towards the end, Tony speculates on the origin of Zenia's name.  Of course, when she mentions Xenia with an X, we're still two years off from the Warrior Princess TV show.  The next Atwood novel won't be till 1996, with Alias Grace, where a suspected murderess may be innocent.

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