Why the booktrail?
Atwood is a celebrated Canadian writer and Toronto is a smart city backdrop for deep discussion and secrets from the past.
Story in a nutshell
Set in present day Toronto, three women (Roz, Charis, and Tony) meet once a month in a restaurant to share a meal.
They are united due to a betrayal -a long dead university classmate, Zenia, had stolen, one by one, their respective boyfriends. In flashbacks we find out that Zenia has told each of the women a different story and they try to work out the truth.
Their stories are different and each woman finds it hard to trust or believe the other, but there are facts which unite them all – Then they finally meet the one person that could hold al the answers from the past. And they may not be prepared for what they hear next.
Place and setting
Well Toronto is the home of Margaret Atwood and it shows for she writes so passionately about her home town and the places and people in it.
The mystery of their classmate Zenia and the tangled web she weaves flows throughout the novel as we are introduced to a world of fantasy and illusion. A world of mirrors if you will.
The story was inspired by a Grimm Fairytale, the Robber Bridegroom so if you are familiar with this then you will have some inkling of what is in store, but that’s before you see the Atwood touch. Zenia is the woman who is almost like that mythical figure who reinvents herself each time she feels like it – she eats people for breakfast and spits them out, she controls her world and woe betide anyone who tries to stop her.
The Toronto here is a maze, a mirror and a place of mystery for three threads of a story to unfold. This Toronto may not be the nicest one portrayed – its in the middle of financial trouble for a start – but it plays a major role as its where the women all live and meet up. This is their Toronto and we get to see some really unique and interesting angles of it!
Looking at a map of the city :
There is down town Toronto – Here is the Toxique, there is Queen Street here is Roz’s renovated office building; here are the ferry docks and the flat Island where Charis’s house still stands.
From that island –
“From here on the island, the city is mysterious like a mirage, like the cover on a book of science fiction.”
Toronto is one of my favourite cities in the world and it holds many special book memories for me so the chance to go back there via fiction from Margaret Atwood was just too great an opportunity to miss. Toronto is a city of contrasts as is this book, for it reflects both what you think is real and what is actually real. Ooh a tantalising mix!
The story of Zenia captivated me for it was mysterious and looked at the connections and relationships between four women (Tony, Charis and Roz) and of course, Zenia. Zenia is somewhat of a femme fatale who seems to need each of her ‘ friends; for different reasons. Zenia seems to be several different people and each woman describes her differently. Very mysterious and I just loved the ending.
Margaret Atwood creates worlds and scenarios that you just have to experience and i will never forget Zenia, that’s for sure. Seeing the Toronto I know and love via her and her friends’ eyes was quite the literary journey.