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The Robber Bride
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1001 Monthly Group Read > August {2015} Discussion -- THE ROBBER BRIDE by Margaret Atwood

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message 1: by Charity (new) - added it

Charity (charityross) Discussion time!

Nola Redd (scottiegazelle) | 26 comments To say I really enjoyed this book would be an understatement.

It's been years since I read The Handmaid's Tale, which I remembered enjoying in college. However, my recent Atwood adventure with Cat's Eye didn't go very well. So I wasn't altogether certain of how The Robber Bride would go.

Each of the three women managed to draw me in, faster than I would have thought. When I read the first passage from Tony's perspective, I was irritated when it switched to Charis. However, I found myself drawn in, and thus figured Roz was just going to be annoying...and yet again I was drawn in.

From a relationship standpoint, I vastly disagree with each woman. I have a hard time pinning the blame for each failed relationship on Zenia rather than the man. What she says at the close about Mitch applies to all three - they made their choices, they were responsible for their own actions. I suppose I'm old fashioned enough to think that no one can break up a happy marriage (or relationship) from without, that the problems came from within. Which is not to base said blame completely on the wife, but the male involved has some responsibility, more I think than the slutty adulteress who shows up.

As for men - could these women have chosen any worse relationships? Tony did the best, but she basically picked up West while he was still in love with Zenia and knew the whole time that she came in second to his lost love, never a good way to start a relationship. Mitch was a cheating schmuck who was obviously only there for the money. And Billy. Oh my god, I can't even say enough about him, with his sob stories and refusal to work (and sulking at the suggestion that he wasn't the provider).

To me, Zenia seemed more the catalyst than the cause. She exposed each man for who they were in truth, she exposed the truth behind each relationship for what it was. Not that this excuses her, but she is described as a force!

Even with all of this, I found myself identifying in some ways with each character. Atwood's prose is always so...I don't want to say poetic, but colorful doesn't seem to do it justice. I think she really shines in this work, certainly more than Cat's Eye. The hardness and softness of the women she describes seemed perfect, even as it was changeable. Malleable.

Getting involved with each man seemed what I would deem from the outside an obvious mistake...and yet, when seen from the perspective of the women, it's clear that they love them, that they are (pre-Zenia) in some way, happy. Which kind of makes me questions how much value there is, sometimes, to playing the fool.

message 3: by Laurence (last edited Aug 28, 2015 07:07AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Laurence | 21 comments This was a good book and I really loved reading the stories of the three main characters: so well written and so moving, especially Karen/Charis's story.
However, it really felt as if there was something missing and that is WHY Zenia does what she does. Or something else that makes her more than a onedimensional bad character. I know this is an active choice of the author and I know that the stories of the three women tell us that their relationships and their men weren't very good to start with anyway, but still...

I have read other books by Margaret Atwood I liked those better so I gave this three stars. But I must admit, had it been by another author, I would have rated it 4 stars, as it really is a good read (after the slow beginning).

(PS: I do believe Zenia did not kill the chickens, so at least she wasn't THAT bad ;) )

Sunny (travellingsunny) | 96 comments I'm at chapter 8... am I supposed to still be kind of head about Zenia? Everything is so mysterious.and odd.

Janet | 20 comments I'm not very far into this. I'm finding it difficult to be enthusiastic about what she had for breakfast or what colour her socks are ... but someone said it's one of those books worth persevering with so I will.

Sunny (travellingsunny) | 96 comments I started to enjoy it, but then WHAMMO! The point of view changed, and I wasn't expecting it. But, I've heard good things about it, so I'm persevering along with you. :)

Sunny (travellingsunny) | 96 comments I've made it past the first section as well as Tony's Black Enamel section. Really, really slow start...

Kirsten  (kmcripn) I love Margaret Atwood, but so far I'm not loving this book so much. But, then again, I'm only 1/4 of the way through. I do love the language and the writing though. So far, Tony is my favorite.

Sunny (travellingsunny) | 96 comments Hi, Kirsten! I'm feeling the same as you. The book has been very, very slow for me too... but long about the 60% mark, it finally grabbed me, and I can't stop reading it now. LOL!

message 10: by Dee (last edited Sep 10, 2015 10:45AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dee (deinonychus) | 244 comments I've reached the "Weasel Nights" Section, focussing on Charis. So far I'm enjoying the three different perspectives, but I don't find all the characters as easy to relate to. I think I enjoy Tony and Roz more. I feel more information about Zenia is lacking, although she is the focus of each of the three narratives, she is presented as if detached from them - acting on, but not acted upon. I guess that adds to the mystery though.

Janet | 20 comments So it was worth finishing. Zenia reminded me of Tulip in Anne Fine's "The Tulip Touch" - her ability to lie her way out of a corner was a delight especially given how unattractive all the other characters were.

Kirsten  (kmcripn) Love this quote in The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood about why one of the characters likes mysteries:

Kirsten  (kmcripn) Just finished reading The Robber Bride The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood by Margaret Atwood

#36 in the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die challenge.

Kirsten  (kmcripn) Just finished reading it. Tony is my favorite character. One of the things I thought is that Tony-Charis-Roz are either the 3 Little Pigs or the 3 Furies.

I also came to feel that Zenia was not so much a villain as a natural disaster that had to be survived. That the story was about how the women survive her. And what they do to overcome her.

I did wonder how Roz could've been taken in so easily. She'd seen the damage wreaked on a relationship. Tony and Charis weren't the same type of people. Roz should've been a harder mark.

Nicola | 765 comments I finally read this, it had a slow start mostly because I found Tony by far the most boring of the 3 women and it started out with her first. Then came Charis/Karen who I thought was a total dipstick but as her story progressed I found it the most interesting of the 3.

For the novel itself I'm not quite sure how to take it. Is it meant to be 'real' or some sort of allegory for the poor choices women can make when it comes to men? Zenia was unpleasant and unscrupulous but baring Tony/West she really did them all a favour. West was a weak willed drip but he finally seemed to have learned his lesson.

Which brings me to another point; I have now read three Atwood books - The Blind Assassin, The Handmaid's Tale and this one and I've realised that they all contain an array of either cheating, spineless, violent and aggressive or otherwise unimpressive group of specimens of the male sex. Does she hate men that much?

Augusta | 28 comments I really enjoyed this but I don't rate it as highly as I did The Handmaid's Tale and The Blind Assassin which are the other 2 books I have read of Atwood's. I agree with you about the man-hating Nicola, I didn't notice it so much in the other 2 books, but it kind of bothered me in this one.

I raced through the book because I was enjoying it so much, but the apparent portrayal of Zenia as a man-eater and all of mankind's attraction to her annoyed me. Tony, Charis, and Roz were all depicted as incredibly weak when it came to the man they loved, the men were all total dropkicks and I too felt like Zenia had done the women a favour.

From what I remember, I felt like the ending kind of tried to make up for it in that Charis' and Roz's children, perhaps a representation of the next generation, were stronger, more progressive and wouldn't fall victim to the same heartbreak as their mothers.

I still really enjoyed the book but there were elements that bothered me. I did wonder if part of this was due to the fact Atwood took the story from a fairytale.

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