The Robber Bride

 The Robber Bride

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WINNER OF THE 2000 BOOKER PRIZE Even Zenia’s name is enough to provoke the old sense of outrage, of humiliation and confused pain. The truth is that at certain times—early mornings, the middle of the night—she finds it hard to believe that Zenia is really dead.’ Zenia is beautiful, smart and greedy; by turns manipulative and vulnerable, needy and ruthless; a man’s dream and a woman’s nightmare. She is also dead. Just to make absolutely sure Tony, Roz and Charis are there for the funeral. But five years on, as the three women share a sisterly lunch, the impossible happens: ‘with waves of ill will flowing out of her like cosmic radiation’, Zenia is back ... This is the wise, unsettling, drastic story of three women whose lives share a common wound: Zenia, a woman they first met as university students in the sixties. Zenia is smart and beautiful, by turns manipulative, vulnerable—and irresistible. She has entered into their separate lives to ensnare their sympathy, betray their trust, and exploit their weaknesses. Now Zenia, thought dead, has suddenly reappeared. In this richly layered narrative, Atwood skilfully evokes the decades of the past as she retraces three women’s lives, until we are back in the present—where it’s yet to be discovered whether Zenia’s ‘pure, free-wheeling malevolence’ can still wreak havoc. The Robber Bride reports from the farthest reaches of the sex wars and is one of Margaret Atwood’s most intricate and subversive novels yet. Exploring the paradox of female villainy, this tale of three fascinating women is another peerless display of literary virtuosity by the supremely gifted author of Cat's Eye and The Handmaid's Tale. Roz, Charis and Tony all share a wound, and her name is Zenia. Beautiful, smart and hungry, by turns manipulative and vulnerable, needy and ruthless, Zenia is the turbulent center of her own neverending saga. She entered their lives in the sixties, when they were in college. Over the three decades since, she has damaged each of them badly, ensnaring their sympathy, betraying their trust, and treating their men as loot. Then Zenia dies, or at any rate the three women—with much relief -- attend her funeral. But as The Robber Bride begins, Roz, Charis and Tony have come together at a trendy restaraunt for their monthly lunch when in walks the seemingly resurrected Zenia...  In this consistently entertaining and profound new novel, Margaret Atwood reports from the farthest reaches of the war between the sexes with her characteristic well-crafted prose, rich and devious humor, and compassion.

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