Author: Margaret Atwood
Original language: English
Publication date: 1993
WINNER OF THE 2000 BOOKER PRIZE
Even Zenia’s name is enough to provoke the old sense of outrage, of humiliation and confused pain. The truth is that at certain times—early mornings, the middle of the night—she finds it hard to believe that Zenia is really dead.’ Zenia is beautiful, smart and greedy; by turns manipulative and vulnerable, needy and ruthless; a man’s dream and a woman’s nightmare. She is also dead. Just to make absolutely sure Tony, Roz and Charis are there for the funeral. But five years on, as the three women share a sisterly lunch, the impossible happens: ‘with waves of ill will flowing out of her like cosmic radiation’, Zenia is back …
This is the wise, unsettling, drastic story of three women whose lives share a common wound: Zenia, a woman they first met as university students in the sixties. Zenia is smart and beautiful, by turns manipulative, vulnerable—and irresistible. She has entered into their separate lives to ensnare their sympathy, betray their trust, and exploit their weaknesses. Now Zenia, thought dead, has suddenly reappeared. In this richly layered narrative, Atwood skilfully evokes the decades of the past as she retraces three women’s lives, until we are back in the present—where it’s yet to be discovered whether Zenia’s ‘pure, free-wheeling malevolence’ can still wreak havoc.
Exploring the paradox of female villainy, this tale of three fascinating women is another peerless display of literary virtuosity by the supremely gifted author of
In this consistently entertaining and profound new novel, Margaret Atwood reports from the farthest reaches of the war between the sexes with her characteristic well-crafted prose, rich and devious humor, and compassion.