THE ROBBER BRIDE
By Margaret Atwood
The Robber Bride is a radical re-working of a fairly standard format. A number of protagonists (three women) are linked through shared suffering – in this case the impact on their lives of a seemingly classical femme fetal, and their separate narratives unfold at the same time as they interconnect and reflect. Finally, the narrative is brought back to the present (where it began) for the powerful ending. The plot and stories are brilliant but it is Atwood’s genius that makes them secondary to the psychological and social insights she provides into how different people respond to life’s challenges. Men, not unsurprisingly, do not emerge too favourably in this novel. Mostly they are vain, weak, lazy, predatory or just plain repulsive. It is even more interesting, therefore, that the person who brings the three women together is another woman, the femme fetal – Zenia. It’s a great book, shocking and provocative, with the capacity to take the reader into mysterious, uncomfortable areas of experience.