From the bestselling author of The Handmaid's Tale and The Testaments—one of Margaret Atwood’s most unforgettable characters lurks at the center of this intricate novel like a spider in a web. The glamorous, irresistible, unscrupulous Zenia is nothing less than a fairy-tale villain in the memories of her former friends.
Roz, Charis, and Tony—university classmates decades ago—were reunited at Zenia’s funeral and have met monthly for lunch ever since, obsessively retracing the destructive swath she once cut through their lives. A brilliantly inventive fabulist, Zenia had a talent for exploiting her friends’ weaknesses, wielding intimacy as a weapon and cheating them of money, time, sympathy, and men.
But one day, five years after her funeral, they are shocked to catch sight of Zenia: even her death appears to have been yet another fiction. As the three women plot to confront their larger-than-life nemesis, Atwood proves herself a gleefully acute observer of the treacherous shoals of friendship, trust, desire, and power.
The author of Cat's Eye depicts a femme fatale's malevolent role in the lives of three women; a seven-week PW bestseller.
We all know somebody like Zenia, so the novel is very real in that aspect and relatable. A good read, especially for women.
Call me “Zeniaphobic”
I’m currently reading my way through all of Ms. Atwood’s novels. In The Robber Bride, I found the in-depth character development quite compelling. The three major players (Roz, Charis, and Tony) are very satisfying, multifaceted, and well written. However, the character of Zenia is an enigma and perhaps she is purposely meant to be. I wanted to know more of the turn of events in her early years that caused her to become what she is but we get mysterious, conflicting snippets of her history. Were any of them true? Were all of them true? For me, the ending of the book was anticlimactic. I enjoyed the denouement process much more than the final outcome. I had bigger aspirations as to how the story might end but I was disappointed. The final stodgy chapter was a giant snooze for me. I actually fell asleep. (Sorry, Margaret.) Up next: Stone Mattress.
This is a well-written, entertaining, thoughtful read. One of my all-time favorites.