Margaret Atwood, The Robber Bride and a Giveaway

Monday, September 17, 2012

Last week I got to see Margaret Atwood speak as part of the Butler University Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series. Yes, it was just as incredible as you all think it was. She is so witty and hilarious, while at the same time offering sharp, thoughtful insights about the world around her. She has a quiet droll tone and so her quick barbs surprise you at first.

She gave a three-part speech about the future, the difficulties in writing about it and her own experience writing about it. It was fascinating! I don’t think I can quite express how much I enjoyed the talk and getting to meet her in person. Atwood was all that I thought she might be and more. I wish I could just sit and talk with her over a cup of coffee for hours.

According to Atwood:

The outfits the handmaids wear were inspired by the outfit worn by the girl on the Old Dutch Cleaner bottles. Who knew?

She once saw a performance of Macbeth where his head was “played” by a cabbage in the death scene and it bounced about off the stage because they’d gotten one that was too fresh.

“There are writers and there are readers and then there is everything in between. Let’s call it two cans and a string.”

“On the web, that modern day equivalent of consulting an oracle, because you never know if what you find will be true or not...”

After giving her talk Atwood stayed and signed copies of her books. I was lucky enough to get my well-worn copy of The Handmaid’s Tale signed for myself, but I also took a copy of The Robber Bride, (see review below) and got it signed for one of you! I had Atwood make it out to “An Avid Reader” and I’m excited to now open the giveaway for the signed copy!

**UPDATE: Jenners is the winner of the signed copy. If I don't hear back from her within 24 hours I'll pick another winner. Thanks!**

To enter the giveaway please do the following:
1)      Tell me why you love Atwood’s work or why you’re excited to check it out.
2)       Leave your email in the comment as well so I can contact you.
3)      Tweet about the giveaway for an extra entry (leave a comment saying you tweeted).
The contest will be open until September 26, 2012. Good luck!

The Robber Bride
by Margaret Atwood

I have been thrilled to find that each of my reading experiences with Atwood’s books has been completely unique and this one is no exception. Reading each of her novels has been fulfilling in a different way. The Handmaid’s Tale is a big picture look at a possible dystopian future and it makes you think about the role women currently play in society and how that role has changed throughout history. The Blind Assassin is an intricately built plot combining a sci-fi story and a mystery that comes full circle in an incredibly rewarding way. The Penelopiad takes a well-known Greek saga and tells it from a new perspective. Oryx and Crake is a post-apocalyptic break down of society. Whatever people say about Atwood, they can never call her boring.

For me, The Robber Bride holds perfectly true to my past experiences with Atwood. I’ve learned to expect the unexpected. I never know where her books are going to take me and this one surprised me with its simplicity. On the surface it has the most basic of plots: the thin line between jealousy and friendship in the relationships between women. The premise: a beautiful woman named Zenia has destroyed the lives of three women and now she’s returned to wreak havoc again.

The plot revolving around Zenia is technically the thread that holds the story together, but to me it was the least interesting part of the book. Atwood does an excellent job making us care for those characters before we become frustrated with them, but I still wasn’t a big fan of the manipulative evil woman vs. the pathetic and gullible woman premise.

The reason I enjoyed this one was not because of the actual plot. I thought the scenes with Zenia were the weakest aspect of the story. Instead, I loved the character development of the three main women; Charis, Tony and Roz. They are so different, yet men seem to be their one unifying weakness. Atwood presents the characters to us and just when we think we know them, she pulls back layer after layer in their history and we being to understand just how little we knew from our first impressions. None of them are simple or can be boiled down to a generic stereotype. They are all unique and complex and it’s a testament to Atwood’s skill as a writer that she can make us care so deeply about characters, while at the same time being frustrated with their choices.

BOTTOM LINE: Atwood is just brilliant. This isn’t my favorite of her books (it’s The Handmaid’s Tale if you’re curious), but it’s still a solid one and the characters will stay with me for a long time.

Photos by moi.


LindyLouMac said...

That must have been so very interesting to be able to attend her talk.

Teresa said...

I'd like to enter the giveaway!
I've read 'The Handmaid's Tale' and ¡Oryx and Crake' so far, which I really enjoyed! She has made be become interested in modern cience-fiction again – I kind of lost all hope after finishing with the 'classics'. What really gets me about her books is that the future she portrays is so close to ours, so that it's not at all impossible to think we might end up like this. Also, the future she creates is so elaborated!
My email is the following: teresa(.)esteban(at)
I also tweeted the giveaway, I link you to the screecap (I have a private account):

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

What a great opportunity to hear her speak. I own this book and several others. I do like her writing.

Jeanne said...

Don't enter me because I have a copy and also got to hear her speak once--I had to comment, though, because of what you say about how she's kind of quiet and droll. She's also very small, so it's interesting how big her voice is.

B said...

I haven't read this one yet but I feel the same way you do - all of her novels are so different, but still all speak to a greater social or political criticism. Also, I'm so jealous you were able to hear her speak! How cool!

Jenners said...

I just recently read Oryx & Crake after taking a long long break from Atwood and it did remind me that she does write wildly different books. I was in an Atwood groove a few years back and they were all so different. She sounds like one smart cookie and an author I would make the time to see if I ever get the chance. And I have to say -- you are super cool to have a book signed by her and then give it away!

Kristi said...

That is amazing that you were able to see her speak. I've only read two by Atwood, I didn't love The Handmaid's Tale, but I really loved Alias Grace. Her books are so very different. I love that.

I haven't read The Robber Bride, but it sounds like one I would enjoy. That's so generous to offer it as a giveaway.

Unknown said...

What a great opportunity to hear her speak....I am so jealous :)
I would love to enter the giveaway! I have read The Handmaid's Tale and Alias Grace. I loved them both for different reasons. I enjoyed The Handmaids Tale because it is provocative and makes you think about a woman's role in society in a different way. I also like science fiction that is somewhat believable in the sense that you could actually see it happening, which I felt like this book did. I enjoyed Alias Grace because I truly love novels told from various points of view and where the reliability of the narrator is called into question. I think this novel shows Atwood's talent as a writer because of the way she weaves the narratives together.
My email is
Thanks for such a generous giveaway!


Anonymous said...

I am so jealous you heard her speak! She is a genius. Absolute genius. A Handmaid's Tale is my favorite of hers as well... though I've enjoyed the other two I've read as well (Cat's Eye and The Blind Assassin). I'll get to this one too someday! -Sarah

Elisabeth said...

Thanks for the giveaway! One never knows what to expect from Atwood. I read A Handmaid's Tale eons ago and I still remember how eerie it was. My Book group loved The Blind Assasin. I need to read more Atwood!

ladybook21 at yahoo dot com

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Thanks to everyone who entered! I'm really looking forward to reading Alias Grace next after all of your comments.