Review by Booklist Review
Atwood's first novel since Cat's Eye (1989) deserves every superlative we can muster from hilarious to wise. At its heart lies a question Atwood posed to herself: "Where have all the Lady Macbeths gone?" She found a key to the answer in a terse little Grimm's fairy tale titled "The Robber Bridegroom," and her robber bride, a ruthless man-eater, was born. Zenia is a ravishing, smoky-maned villain with more life stories than a snake has skins. She claims to be everything from a gypsy orphan to a White Russian forced into prostitution by her emigre mother. Zenia has even managed to come back from the dead, bustier and more alluring than ever. But enthralling as this witchy liar is, it is the women she's duped and swindled we come to love. Atwood has created a trio of middle-aged marvels, all survivors of Zenia's greed, lust, and cunning. There's Tony, an elfin historian with immense owl eyes, a steely mind, and a passion for war. Charis is a kind albeit self-defeating mystic, while Roz is a successful, if hefty, businesswoman you wouldn't want to face at a poker table. Zenia has slithered into each of her lives and stolen their men, their money, and their self-respect, but each has rallied, faced their sorrowful pasts, and grown stronger in battle. Atwood has never expressed her views on the study of history, social mores, spiritual matters, and womanhood with more heart and panache. This is a genuine tour de force, witty and original, suspenseful and sagacious. ~--Donna Seaman
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
The author of Cat's Eye depicts a femme fatale's malevolent role in the lives of three women; a seven-week PW bestseller. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
Petite Tony teaches the agressively male subject of military history and has a talent for speaking backwards; actually, she's Ynot. Charis eats only vegetarian fare and consults crystals. Boisterous, stylish Roz runs her own company and drives a BMW. These three women would seem to have little in common, but they're held together by a single thread: Zenia, a lying, charismatic femme fatale who at one time or other stole the men in their lives. But Zenia is dead, blown to bits in Beirut, and can hurt them no more. Or so they think until the day a still-seductive Zenia walks into the restaurant where they are having lunch. As in Cat's Eye ( LJ 2/1/89), Atwood takes feminism one step further, showing women as victims not only of society but of themselves. Her book is daring, richly detailed, and compulsively readable. Indeed, some readers might find it too readable; at times it feels a bit trashier than something you would expect from Atwood. In addition, while Zenia is a fascinating absence at the novel's center, she seems too bad to be true. Nevertheless, Atwood is always good reading. For most collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/93.-- Barbara Hoffert, ``Library Journal'' (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Antonia (Tony), Karen (Charis), and Roz are three 50-ish Toronto friends, pals since college, all of whom have had to negotiate (and none too well) the treacheries of another friend, Zenia--someone who in the past has stolen a significant man from each of the others. But Zenia, they are led relievedly to understand, has been dead for some years--blown up in a Beirut bomb blast; they had carefully attended, together, her memorial service to make doubly sure. Yet why does the very selfsame Zenia now appear across the room one afternoon at a restaurant where the three women are lunching? It creates turmoil. Tony--a college military historian with a milquetoasty composer husband and an annoying tic of spelling words backwards; doggedly hippie Charis, New Age-y survivor of incest, and lover of a US draft-dodger; and Roz, power-businesswoman despite herself, wife of a sad-sack philanderer--all of the massed trio views Zenia not only as a communal threat, but as a chastening, changeable contrast to the courses of their own lives. Atwood (Wilderness Tips, 1991; Cat's Eye, 1989, etc.) does a professionally tidy job with the outline of this social comedy, but apart from some poetic turbocharging around Charis's memories of abuse, plus a nice capture of modern manners most of the time, the book lacks luster: it could be a more brittle, smarter Rona Jaffe novel. Atwood seems to want to make the three unlikely friends both representative of their age, place, and times--but also not: the flaky names and square-peg lifestyles argue for an individualism none of the women quite achieves. And Zenia, the fox among these chickens, is utterly cloudy, a trope instead of a character. Amusing sometimes, but flogged and padded--hardly one of Atwood's better efforts.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.