By Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride is galvanized via "The Robber Bridegroom," a perfectly grisly story from the Brothers Grimm within which an evil groom lures 3 maidens into his lair and devours them, one after the other. yet in her model, Atwood brilliantly recasts the monster as Zenia, a villainess of demonic proportions, and units her unfastened within the lives of 3 buddies, Tony,  Charis, and Roz. All 3 "have misplaced males, spirit, cash, and time to their previous collage acquaintance, Zenia. At numerous occasions, and in a variety of emotional disguises, Zenia has insinuated her means into their lives and virtually demolished them. To Tony, who nearly misplaced her husband and jeopardized her educational occupation, Zenia is 'a lurking enemy  commando.' To Roz, who did lose her husband and virtually her journal, Zenia is 'a chilly and treacherous bitch.' To Charis, who misplaced a boyfriend, quarts of vegetable juice and a few puppy chickens, Zenia is one of those zombie, possibly 'soulless'" (Lorrie Moore, New York occasions Book  Review). In love and conflict, phantasm and deceit, Zenia's subterranean malevolence takes us deep into her enemies' pasts.

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Who cares why, at this distance? A catastrophe is a catastrophe; these harm by way of it stay harm, these killed stay killed, the rubble continues to be rubble. speak of motives is inappropriate. Zenia was once a nasty company, and may be left by myself. Why try and decode her factors? yet Zenia is additionally a puzzle, a knot: if Tony may well simply discover a unfastened finish and pull, very much might come loose, for everybody concerned, and for herself to boot. Or this is often her desire. She has a historian’s trust within the salutary energy of factors. the place to begin is the matter, simply because not anything starts off while it starts off and nothing’s over whilst it’s over, and every thing wishes a preface: a preface, a postscript, a chart of simultaneous occasions. historical past is a build, she tells her scholars. Any element of access is feasible and all offerings are arbitrary. nonetheless, there are definitive moments, moments we use as references, simply because they holiday our experience of continuity, they modify the course of time. we will be able to examine those occasions and we will be able to say that once them issues have been by no means an analogous back. they supply beginnings for us, and endings too. Births and deaths, for example, and marriages. And wars. It’s the wars that curiosity Tony, regardless of her lace-edged collars. She likes transparent results. So did Zenia, or so Tony suggestion as soon as. Now, she will be able to infrequently inform. An arbitrary selection then, a definitive second: October 23, 1990. It’s a vibrant transparent day, unseasonably hot. It’s a Tuesday. The Soviet bloc is crumbling, the previous maps are dissolving, the japanese tribes are at the flow back around the moving borders. There’s difficulty within the Gulf, the true property marketplace is crashing, and a wide gap has constructed within the ozone layer. The solar strikes into Scorpio, Tony has lunch on the Toxique along with her associates Roz and Charis, a mild breeze blows in over Lake Ontario, and Zenia returns from the useless. THE TOXIQUE 2. TONY Tony will get up at six-thirty, as she continually does. West sleeps on, groaning a bit. most likely in his goals he’s shouting; sounds in desires are continually louder. Tony inspects his drowsing face, his angular jaw-line secure to softness, his unearthly blue hermit’s eyes so lightly closed. She’s satisfied he’s nonetheless alive: girls out live males and males have vulnerable hearts, occasionally they only keel over, and even supposing she and West aren’t old—they’re not often outdated at all—still, girls her age have woke up within the morning to discover lifeless males beside them. Tony doesn't think about this a morbid inspiration. She’s chuffed in a extra normal method, too. She’s chuffed that West is in this earth in any respect, and during this condo, and that he is going to sleep each evening beside her and never elsewhere. regardless of every thing, regardless of Zenia, he’s nonetheless the following. it sort of feels a miracle relatively. a few days she can’t recover from it. Quietly, in order to not wake him, she gropes for her glasses at the night-table, then slides down out of the mattress. She pulls on her Viyella dressing costume and her cotton socks and her gray wool paintings socks over them, and stuffs her bundled toes into her slippers. She suffers from chilly toes, an indication of low blood strain.

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