Lately, I’ve been reading Margaret Atwood’s The Robber Bride — as usual, a gloriously devious book. This column suggests that Zenia is a grotesque version of Canadian journalist Barbara Amiel, who went to the University of Toronto with Atwood. Amiel, of course, was fired by the Telegraph this year after she was implicated in a lawsuit against her husband (the lawsuit having been launched by Hollinger International, which owns the telegraph). Before that, Amiel built a career writing free market tirades.
Of course, Atwood’s novel (published in 1993) came long before the Telegraph scandal, but since Atwood’s novel is content to play with the reader’s head (leading the reader to become just as curious about Zenia’s salacious details as the three protagonists), does anybody have any dirt on anything that might have gone down between the two? If Zenia is indeed based off of Amiel and there was a contretemps, then this could lend credence to the theory that vengeance promotes lively writing (much as Get Shorty‘s Martin Weir was based on Elmore Leonard’s scuffles with Dustin Hoffman).