Margaret Atwood always manages to draw me into her world. Generally it’s a dark-ish, thought provoking world and The Robber Bride is no different. The story follows three women – Tony, Charis and Roz – and how their lives are impacted by a fourth woman – Zenia – who seems to be the fountain of all evil: man-eater, money launderer and chicken killer.
The blurb on the back says that ‘it’s a story from the front lines of the war of the sexes’ and I guess you can call it that although the men in the story play sideline roles and their importance is only in how Zenia managed to manipulate them. It is well written as Margaret Atwood always is and the characters are intriguing in that you can’t quite work out whether you like them or not.
What I found to be confronting about this book was how the women react to the men in their lives, and how Atwood uses Zenia to expose the baby-ing of men that women who love them often do, myself included. Little things women do for their men, such as making sure they eat well, and don’t have to deal with ‘life’ decisions outside of their workplace, that over time could become smothering are used in The Robber Bride as a backdrop for the infidelities and plot twists that occur. What struck me was that while these may be background, if they weren’t taking place then would the foreground, namely Zenia, have happened? I don’t know but I’m working on it.
The novel ends with Tony asking herself how much is she like Zenia but what I struggle with more is not how like Zenia I am but rather how like Tony, Charis and Roz I am and what can I do to change – both for the benefit of my husband and of myself.