The Robber Bride

This work of speculative fiction by Margaret Atwood was published in 1993.

Margaret Atwood

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. (From McClelland & Stewart)

From the book

The story of Zenia ought to begin when Zenia began. It must have been someplace long ago and distant in space, thinks Tony; someplace bruised, and very tangled. A European print, hand-tinted, ochre-coloured, with dusty sunlight and a lot of bushes in it — bushes with thick leaves and ancient twisted roots, behind which, out of sight of the undergrowth and hinted at only by a boot protruding, or a slack hand, something ordinary but horrifying is taking place.

Or this is the impression Tony has been left with. But so much has been erased, so mych has been bandaged over, so much deliberately snarled, that Tony isn't sure any longer which of Zenia's accounts of herself was true. She can hardly ask now, and even if she could, Zenia wouldn't answer. Or she would lie. She would lie earnestly, with a catch in her voice, a quaver of suppressed grief, or she would lie haltingly, as if confessing; or she would lie with a cool, defiant anger, and Tony would believe her. She has before.

From The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood ©1993. Published by McClelland & Stewart.


Interviews with Margaret Atwood

Michael Enright interviewed Margaret Atwood at a fundraiser for The Literary Review of Canada. 19:02
In this video from the CBC Archives, Margaret Atwood talks about where culture meets country. 1:18

More about this book

Other books by Margaret Atwood


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.