My rating: 3 of 5 stars.
The writing is excellent, and Ms. Atwood’s gorgeous prose is both riveting and insightful. Even so, I have to own after 528 pages where the men in the novel (the heterosexual men, anyway) are portrayed covering the gamut of nearly every imaginable negative male stereotype, I came away feeling like I’d seriously had the crap kicked out of me.
Actually, I do seem to recall the brief appearance of a male cook from Roz’s childhood who didn’t seem too bad. Unfortunately, I suspect this might have been because he simply wasn’t in the story long enough for his latent, negative characteristics to surface. *sigh*
I have to wonder, as deliciously clever as this story is, and as deftly as Ms. Atwood wields the wicked Zenia in her attempt to demolish the lives of Tony, Charis and Roz, was it really necessary to portray EVERY man in the book in the worst possible light? This certainly suggests the tone of someone with an ax to grind.
The Robber Bride seems to go out of its way to portray men as abusive, unfaithful, hapless, weak-minded and over-sexed simply so they can be used as the tools in Zenia’s arsenal to undo the novel’s three heroines. But if you can destroy a woman by destroying the men in their lives what does this then say about women? It stands to reason then, based on the plot, that woman are the most vulnerable where men are concerned. But why should that be? Are we to think ultimately it’s men who make a women who they are? Take away the man and you take away who the woman really is?
No, I don’t think so.
It seems to me, despite the brilliance of the writing, the unintended consequence of the novel’s negative portrayal of men is that women end up taking quite a beating too.