Andrea's Reviews > The Robber Bride

The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
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's review
Mar 19, 08

it was ok
Read in March, 2008

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, imposes upon her generosity for a time, then vamooses with her man and a great deal of money. Why? Her motive seems to be nothing more than greed and the fact that she can. Her beauty and craftiness are reason enough? I don't know.

But really, why is the book populated solely with weak men in need of a good spot of mothering? Why does Tony let Zenia lead her husband around by the dick and then, when Zenia's had done with him, allow him back into her home, never to broach the subject again? Why is the only character with a strong backbone and chipless shoulders an elderly farmer's widow who endures a solitary existence, shunned by the neighbors who fear she's a witch and by her toxic daughters who are ashamed of her?

I always like the idea of Margaret Atwood more than the reality and this book may be the final nail in my decision to never read another of her books. Why does feminist writing have to be about women being destroyed by other women and men being too brainless, incompetent, and unaware to contribute anything worthwhile? This book would have me be believe all women are untrustworthy—especially those posing as my friends—and that the only way to deal with men is to condescend to them, mother them, hide from them the true goings-on in my mind and the world.

The state of loneliness in which the main characters exist is unsettling, but I don't find it very believable. None of the members of the I Hate Zenia Club are respectful of their friends. They tune out or dismiss their supposed friends' opinions, friendly advice is more like an insult disguised as a compliment, and they meet up once a month for a lunch so they can sit around listening to themselves talk and hating on the woman they let walk all over them. None of them seem to have any other meaningful interactions with other humans: family members are looked at as curiosities or pets and co-workers or colleagues are avoided and disdained, treated like a trained monkey, or are just as self-absorbed and damaged as they and, therefore, equally incapable of real conversation.

Are we all really that hollow inside?
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Reading Progress

03/03 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Pinedo you write excellent reviews. i saw the book at the library yesterday, it's pretty long. you read fast! :)

message 2: by Rachel (new)

Rachel But the women weren't destroyed in the end. All three women were very insecure due to their childhood backgrounds and society's pressure to be beautiful and all that. It's easy to see how they could have been sucked in to Zenia's web of lies. Especially since some people are just incredibly charming and brilliant at manipulating people, which obviously Zenia was. But at the end Roz, Chariss, and Tony all found inner strength and realized they were better than that. It wouldn't have been much of a story if they'd been smart and sensible from the beginning. And yes, it was sort of pathetic that Tony took West back in after all that happened with Zenia - but in a way it was understandable. She loved him and he wasn't a bad guy. And in the end he did seem to realize he'd been chasing a fantasy and realize he wanted something stable and genuine. It was different with Roz and Charis though - they both came to realize that their men were just scumbags and Zenia hadn't really "stolen" them, and they weren't worth fighting for anyway. So yes, all three women acted foolishly, but it was easy to understand why given their backgrounds. And in the end they were redeemed, because they realized Zenia couldn't destroy them and they realized how much they'd learned and grown from all the awful experiences.

message 3: by Loa (new)

Loa Xing Your review is very true. It is very unlucky to harm your friends.

Pamela Agree with you 100%. I enjoyed the stories that didn't involve Zenia. When Zenia appeared, my suspension of disbelief disappeared.

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