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The Robber Bride

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  25,725 ratings  ·  1,305 reviews
Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride is inspired by "The Robber Bridegroom," a wonderfully grisly tale from the Brothers Grimm in which an evil groom lures three maidens into his lair and devours them, one by one. But in her version, Atwood brilliantly recasts the monster as Zenia, a villainess of demonic proportions, and sets her loose in the lives of three friends, Tony, C ...more
Paperback, 528 pages
Published January 20th 1998 by Anchor (first published January 1st 1992)
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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodLife of Pi by Yann MartelAnne of Green Gables by L.M. MontgomeryWater for Elephants by Sara GruenA Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Best Canadian Literature
35th out of 770 books — 698 voters
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Best of Margaret Atwood
7th out of 77 books — 137 voters

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Community Reviews

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My sister Lauren once said something both wise and ridiculous, and I think Atwood's beautiful, readable, and funny novel echoes the sentiment: "Women are crazy. Men are stupid." In The Robber Bride we get a peek into the lives of three women: petite academic Tony, new age, delicate Charis, and gregarious, fashionable Roz; the histories of their marriages, their childhoods, and their current day-to-day experiences in 1990s Toronto, are fascinating. All three of them have suffered at the hands of ...more
I like a number of Margaret Atwood's works but not this one. It was like a Lifetime movie without the benefit of Tori Spelling and a fun, melodramatic plotline. Oh, the plotline was melodramatic all right but it was far from fun or even insightful. Three friends (all of them stereotypes of the post-feminist era) have dramatic encounters with an almost mythic creature/woman named Zenia who embodies all of the "negative" qualities in a woman, namely ruthlessness, lust and wandering passion. This t ...more
It's books like these that makes my rarely flouted 'always finish' rule earn its keep, for it often takes going through the entirety of any work for the meshing gears of personal reception to reveal themselves to my own perception. Granted, it didn't do a very good job of serving as inspiration for one of my more creative frenzies, but it was a decent whetting stone for my analytic ability without pissing me off too much, so reading it in tandem with The Second Sex was not such a horrible mistak ...more
Well a hard headed woman,
a soft hearted man
been the cause of trouble
ever since the world began.
Oh yeah, ever since the world began
He listens to Elvis with half an ear as he finishes the last few pages. He'd felt worried when his wife told him he should read it. The Fay Weldon, last year... that had left him feeling disquieted. But this one was different. He wonders if Margaret is a lady or a woman or a babe. He guesses he'd better call her a woman. Privately, though, he's decided she's a b
Everybody in this novel has a motive for killing Zenia – and that is the point, or at least, one of the points. Zenia is a dark, malevolent force – one of those people we desire in the dark, middle of the forest nightmare spaces in the black pits of our souls. She is the one who knows our secret desires and who uses them against us to bring about our own undoing. At least, we would like to believe it is our undoing she seeks and that she is the agent that brings it about. But that is the thing a ...more

This was a one of kind sort of book where I pretty much hated all the characters because of their ridiculous and irritating ways yet everything about them and their fucked up lives was utterly engrossing. I didn't think it was possible to enjoy a book that contained so many rage inducing characters.

-Even though I LOATHED most of the characters and didn't find their actions remotely realistic they were for the most part weirdly fun to read about.

-Really liked how the story was structured
I'm in several minds about this book, because I am head-over-heels in love with Cat's Eye by same, and a lot of this reads like Cat's Eye shifted a couple of spaces to the left.

The reason I love Cat's Eye so unreasonably is, and it's time to stop pretending this isn't true, primarily because of some things that happened in my life sometime between (approx.) my sixth and seventh readings (though I use the term 'reading' loosely) of it, and so my love for it is all bound up rather painfully with a
Interesting enough for me to finish in less than 24 hours, but lacking in anything that would provoke lasting thought or examination.

I found this book to be a great disappointment. It's basically all about how three incredibly amazing women, so smart and strong and capable within themselves, are brought down and nearly destroyed by a fourth woman, through her attack on their common weak spot: the men in their lives. The exotically, impossibly beautiful Zenia systematically targets each woman, im
Jennifer (aka EM)
Jun 11, 2015 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pathological liars and their prey
Atwood at her finest - and in some ways, meanest (I mean that in a good way). I ended up loving it, although found it started slowly, lacking her usual sly and almost remote perspective, sharp insights, biting black humour. It was almost too sincere and - gasp! - clichéd.

Then, by about p 100, it kicked in. Cunning use of language and symbolism (the eggs!) - and most of all, a study in a particularly disturbing kind of psychopathology to which so many of us have been prey. Slices to the bone and
mark monday
atwood's splendid deconstruction and then reconstruction of the ties that can exist between women is one of her more pleasurable novels. it is full of fascinating references to fairy tales; discovering the parallels to rapunzel, sleeping beauty, and cinderella (to name just three) is an ongoing delight and the title character herself is so mysteriously poisonous yet malleable in her many faces that she becomes almost mythic. just as enjoyable is the deftness and richness of the characterization. ...more
Update: This review recently got a few likes, bringing it back to my attention. But, honestly? I'm ashamed of it. Because, I'm trying to pretend evil women don't exist. Zenia is obviously an exaggeration...but women and girls do awful things to each other. All the time.

Back in school, I was horribly bullied by girls. Horribly. They'd hit me, shove me against the wall, walk up behind me and pull my skirt up above my waist, trip me as I was getting off the bus. Why do I pretend those things didn't
Leanne (Booksandbabble)
This book is set in the early 90's Toronto and also the 1940's and 1960's. Each decade witnesses major world events such as World War 2, the Vietnam war, and the beginning of the Gulf war and recession. There is an element of unrest and unease from the beginning of this novel and it is with these events playing out on the world stage that we meet our characters.
Tony,Roz and Charis come together to lunch, in 90's Toronto, in a restaurant called 'Toxique'. We are introduced to them in turn and fi
"The story of Zenia ought to begin where Zenia began. It must have been someplace long ago and distant in space, thinks Tony; someplace bruised, and very tangled. A European print, hand-tinted, ochre-colored, with dusty sunglight and a lot of bushes in it - bushes with thick leaves and ancient twisted roots, behind which, out of sight in the undergrowth and hinted at only by a boot protruding, or a slack hand, something ordinary but horrifying is taking place.
Or this is the impression Tony has b
Beth F.
Nov 07, 2008 Beth F. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sarah B. - I'm mailing this one to you
Reading this book was like wading into a lake that has a predictable downward slope. Your ankles get wet and you take a few more steps because you feel like taking a leisurely soak. Pretty soon your knees are wet. And then your thighs, your hips, your waist, your—AHHHHH--!!!

And then all of a sudden you find you’ve just hit a major drop-off and half of a nanosecond later you are all the way in, whether you wanted to be or not. I started this book and thought it was just sort of okay. Atwood’s pro
All this drama over these three losers? I just don't get it. I really don't understand women who find out that their husbands/boyfriends/girlfriends are cheating then go ballistic on the other women. What? The "other woman" is irrelevant, she took no vows, made no commitments, did not pledge her undying (faithful) love to you, the partner did. Really that's beside the point, just couldn't resist a mini-rant.

I actually related to all four women as I seem to have met each of them at some point in
Oh. Margaret, why hath thou forsaken me? This book sucked! Two stars is just me being generous, because it's Margaret Atwood. This was a boring daytime soap opera. It could have been written by Danielle Steele. Where is the feminism? Where is the sarcasm? The satire? The point?

This far-fetched novel is about some desperately evil chick who emotionally tortures 3 women over 3 decades for no apparent reason other than she enjoys it. I couldn't be more bored and had to force myself to read it, lik
Jessica Donaghy
This book has become comfort reading me -- there's no telling how many times I've read it. Atwood has a remarkable skill for revealing how her characters think, which is a separate facet of characterization, so different from describing a character's personality or way of life. Of all the fascinating women in this book, Tony is my favorite. I identify not with her personality, but with the way she thinks.
i approached this book the way i was told to approach it (no one in particular said anything, but i got the general idea) and, well, i don't like books about nastiness. you know, books about psychopaths, serial killers, and the like. not my cup of tea. the sociopath here would be zenia. but slowly it dawned on me, thanks in part to having read Dept. of Speculation (as i type this i don't know why, but maybe it will be clearer to me by the end of this review), that this book is not about zenia. n ...more
The first Atwood novel I read was The Handmaid’s Tale. If I touch the book, I can remember that first reading. Devouring the book as I lay on the couch, the leather cool despite the fact that it was a sweltering Philadelphia summer, I remember being torn between the desire to read the book, the desire to watch the Bulgaria with its cute goalie in the World Cup, and the need to walk the dog.

Despite the strong memory and the fact that I have taught it, The Handmaid’s Tale is not my favorite Atwoo

…And this is how I discovered there was a Grimm’s tale I have never read – The Robber Bridegroom, with a sort of Barbe Bleue character who used to ate his female victims with no other reason than visceral, that is, his cannibal tendencies .

But what happens if the story is transferred in a world that denies for once the right of “male fantasies” to run it? And what if the story does not become a reversed one, however, since although the wicked bridegroom becomes the wicked bride, the victims rema
May 27, 2008 Kirsten rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kirsten by: Meghan
I wasn't completely thrilled with the narrative structure of this novel: the book is broken into sections with the three primary characters explored in sequence in each section. This approach began to seem a little lumbering to me, and also a bit repetitive. However, in the middle section, events really took off and I found myself engrossed, then distanced again in the final 60 or so pages as things were wrapped up.

At first my hackles were raised at the thought that the biggest trespass one woma
I really liked how this book was laid out, the introduction, and then each of the three friend's stories separately; their initial reaction, followed by a reminiscing that started in childhood, and brought us back to present day, and then the finale. I liked how the stories of the three women wove in and out of each other's, and also contained things known only to themselves. I felt that I really got to know each of the characters in depth this way. Except Zenia. She remains an enigma, she had a ...more
Jody  Julian
I forced myself to read this slowly, doling it out like the last, deliciously sinful pieces of fudge. Margaret Atwood is the high priestess of fiction. The Robber Bride is a clever twist on a Brothers Grimm fairy tale called The Robber Groom. Instead of a villain, we're treated to the consummate villainess, Zenia. She rips through the lives of three women and their lovers with the predatory qualities of a top notch hunter. And the clincher is that each unsuspecting woman welcomes her into their ...more
I feel a bit stupid admitting this - mainly because Atwood is such a well-established and respected author - but I just couldn't enjoy this book like I wanted to. It isn't that I found it poorly written, or even that I didn't think the plot was intriguing, I simply felt very strongly that there was something about the whole thing I just didn't 'get'. I found most of the characters and the details of their lives quite grotesque and unbelievable, and for some reason (and I can't think of a way to ...more
“She remembers one phase, when [the twins] were, what? Four, five, six, seven? It went on for a while. They’d decided that all the characters in every story had to be female. Winnie the Pooh was female, Piglet was female, Peter Rabbit was female. If Roz slipped up and said “he,” they would correct her: She! She! they would insist. All of their stuffed animals were female, too. Roz still doesn’t know why. When she asked them, the twins would give her looks of deep contempt. “Can’t you see?" they ...more
One of Margaret's nastier books. As often is the case the rumours that an Atwood book might actually be a thinly veiled take on the inner circles of Canlit...this one leads to endless speculation about the voracious man-thief, the insipid males and the various other characters. On the other hand it seems a relatively realistic portrayal of adultery in all its forms.
Wow! I started this book at 21, read about 30 pages and abandoned it. Not because it was bad. I just got distracted.

Now, 16 years later, I came back to it. I'm glad I really read it now. I think I got a lot more out of it. I could see bits of myself in all of the main characters. This made for a great read in that I could identify with what they were feeling, but it was also an uncomfortable feeling. This book showed me that the ideas I've used to construct my own life and interpret my own past
Julie Ehlers
This novel was different from how I thought it would be. Instead of focusing on Zenia, the undeniable villain of the piece, it focuses on the lives, thoughts, and reactions of the three regular (but very different) women who are affected by her. In the course of reading this 470-page tome, these women began to feel unusually real to me--this morning while I was supposed to be meditating, I was instead thinking about how Tony behaved in her big confrontation with Zenia and what she should have do ...more
I feel like I'm going to get shot for saying this, but when I first started reading, I couldn't help thinking of the Pretty Little Liars series- the mysterious, manipulative and gorgeous friend who ruined their lives, then died, then shows back up in their lives to cause more mayhem. Obviously, this book had a lot more content to it than Pretty Little Liars, but that was my first impression.
Zenia is the embodiment of a femme fatale. She lies as easily as breathing and she knows how to get to pe
This was one LONG book! It was also one of the most well-written books that I have ever read. Margaret Atwood's vocabulary, grasp of pop culture and idioms is phenomenal. On the other hand, it takes a long time for anything to happen and Zenia, who is the robber bride, is hard to believe. Can anyone be that devious, that amoral, that conniving, that evil, and that captivating? Perhaps. The story surrounds the influence that Zenia has on her three girlfriends from college and how, in each case, s ...more
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Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.

Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry, childr
More about Margaret Atwood...
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“Male fantasies, male fantasies, is everything run by male fantasies? Up on a pedestal or down on your knees, it's all a male fantasy: that you're strong enough to take what they dish out, or else too weak to do anything about it. Even pretending you aren't catering to male fantasies is a male fantasy: pretending you're unseen, pretending you have a life of your own, that you can wash your feet and comb your hair unconscious of the ever-present watcher peering through the keyhole, peering through the keyhole in your own head, if nowhere else. You are a woman with a man inside watching a woman. You are your own voyeur.” 101 likes
“Genius is an infinite capacity for causing pain.” 35 likes
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