Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Few Worlds On Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride


I am a strange reader. At any given time I will be reading 3 or 4 or 10 books at a time. Often, without warning, right in the middle of a book I will stop reading it. Not intentionally mind you, for I don't think I've ever just put down a book and said "this is not worth my time," but I do often get distracted by something more interesting and then never return to the older book.

There is really no rhyme or reason to what books I read, or which ones I actually complete. I just go where my interests are at the moment. Nothing more.

A long time ago, call it the 90s, my first ever online friend kept recommending to me Margaret Atwood. Or, rather she kept asking me if I had read any of Atwoods books, and she often ended her e-mails with an Atwood quote. Still I never picked her up.

Sometime since then, and long after the friendship died (or withered away) I did pick up a copy of Atwood's The Robber Bride.

Still, it sat on the shelf for years.

Sometime before China I picked it up and began to read. I liked it. I liked it a lot and told my wife to read it. She did and she liked it a lot.

But because we were moving to China, and I was busy and I was reading other things, I went slowly through it.

Now, some three months after I picked it up, I finished it.

Brilliant. Amazing. Fabulous are words I might use to describe it. I don't really want to do a proper review, as I'm not sure I'd be able to do it justice, but I did want to say how much I really liked it.

It is part fairly tale and morality play and part meditation on what it is to be a woman and to be a friend. She splits the book into big chunks telling three separate yet similar stories in a variety of ways. It is the story of three very different women, who all have their men stolen from the by a singular woman.

It is not so much the stories that are interesting, but in the way that they are told. It is never written in the first person, but we see the world, at different times from the perspective of the three women. And the man-eater, Zenia is nothing more than a shadow, a shape-shifting witch, full of lies that rest on her own, unspecified whims. Each story tells us a little more about Zenia, yet we are never sure which parts to believe, if any at all.

I love a good yard. I adore a good story. But I get all drooly when a story is told in a different and interesting and imaginative way. Atwood does this to perfection.

Really, go read it. It's all worth it.

1 comment:

Beth said...

Margaret Atwood is a-effin'-mazing. I heard her speak at Emory about a year ago, and she's a hoot! Funny and nerdy and a sci-fi freak. Lovely book; let me know if you want recommendations for other Atwood titles.

I admire your ability to read more than one book at a time. I can't do that.