Book Review of The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood

The Robber Bride, by Margaret Atwood is a new twist on an old, almost forgotten Grimm tale. Not so new, as it was published in 1993. I read it when it first came out, then re-read it a couple of times, read the Grimm version and  Eudora Welty’s take and also saw the musical which was based on Welty’s novel. Now I’ve just read Atwood’s book again and enjoyed it just as much as the first time—she is that good a writer.

The original tale was set in Germany, and was called “The Robber Bridegroom”. The plot is simple, but creepy: a young man sweet-talks his betrothed into visiting his house in the woods, where he and his cronies plan to kill and eat her. The tale features a pet raven who tries to warn the woman, crying “Turn back, turn back!” She escapes, but another young woman’s murder is discovered when her ring is found on a severed finger. (I told you it was creepy.)

Eudora Welty chose this tale for her first novel, published in 1942. She embellished it by setting it on the Natchez Trace and adding real life characters like Mike Fink, a legendary brawler and river boatman, as well as Little Harp, who was a Mississippi bandit. In this version, the bridegroom is an outlaw, but the real villain is Little Harp. The 1978 musical takes Welty’s version and turns it into a dark comedy with rollicking tunes.

Margaret Atwood borrows the theme of the folk tale, but makes the vampiric villain a woman who devours her victims in a metaphoric, rather than literal, sense. As Roz says, “She’ll just take one bite out of him and throw him away.” The novel is riddled with fairy tale references: the witch who cannot enter your house without your invitation, rituals that keep ghosts in their place. Atwood is a gifted writer who creates word pictures to capture the essence of her characters. Tony sneaks along behind her sleep-walking friend “like a butterfly collector.” Charis is “slippery and translucent…like the prehensile tentacles of sea anemones.” Zenia, dressed in white, “glows like the moon.”

Margaret Atwood is a prolific award-winning poet, novelist, essayist and literary critic. The Robber Bride is a pleasure to read.

Learn a New Language!

Say hello to Oswayo Valley Memorial Library’s newest language-learning resource: Mango Premiere™.  The newest addition to the popular Mango Languages database, Mango Premiere™ is the first and only language-learning resource to teach through film.

Turning the entertainment experience into a learning experience, Mango Premiere™ exposes students to four key areas of language learning – vocabulary, phrases, culture and grammar – all while enjoying the fun and excitement of a movie.

Users are able to customize their learning experience by choosing how they want to watch a film.  In “Movie Mode”, you can watch the entire movie with your choice of subtitles (English subtitles, subtitles in the language you’re learning, or both).  Or you can select “Engage Mode” to learn each scene’s dialogue, part-by-part.

Along the way, you’ll see all the same features that Mango users have come to know and love: semantic color mapping, phonetic pop-ups, quizzes, Grammar Notes, Culture Notes, and more.

Ask a librarian how to get started or visit to get started.

How are Those New Library Hours Working?

We have had a few people question the change in library days/hours at the beginning of the year. This was done for a couple of reasons.

  • State requirements: The state has guidelines on how many weekly and weekend hours libraries must be open if they receive state aid. If the library cannot meet these requirements they can apply for a waiver from the state. The current requirements are that they be open 45 hours per week, with 7 of those hours being on a weekend.
  • Usage patterns: A record was kept all throughout the year of 2016 to determine what days and hours the public was using the library the most. The data showed that Wednesdays had the most users and that usage dropped dramatically after 5 p.m. with an overage of only 4 people a week coming into the library after that time.

Taking the data into consideration, and the operating hours of nearby libraries, the decision was made by the library board to implement new days and hours of operation. Instead of being open only four days a week the decision was made to be open Tuesday through Saturday, closing Sunday and Monday, and to be open 7 hours each day.

The new hours are:

  • Sunday & Monday- Closed
  • Tuesday- noon to 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday & Thursday- 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Friday & Saturday- 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

How have those days and hours been working? There has been an increase of over 26% usage of the library with these new hours. Wednesdays are still the busiest, but Tuesdays are not far behind. Saturdays are the slowest, but the numbers have been climbing. The busiest hours are generally from 10-2 most days, and yes, surprisingly we do get a few people coming into the library during the 8-9 a.m. time slot!

We still do not meet the state requirements of 45 hours per week, so we have applied for a waiver for this year, but we were able to satisfy the weekend hour requirement with the new hours. We will reassess at the end of the year to see how the days/hours are working and adjusting times if there seems to be a need.

Basket Raffle Donations


The library will be holding basket raffles during the Pleasant Street Festival on September 9th. If you have any items that you would like to donate for the baskets, please drop them off at the library or contact a board member to arrange pick up.

Appalachian Trail Adventure for Kids!

Come visit with “Blissful” who has hiked the famous Appalachian Trail twice and in each direction! Lauralee will be visting with us on Thursday, August 10th, at 10:30 a.m.

From bears to snakes, plants, trees, cool views, and funny hiking pictures, we will explore the trail from Georgia to Maine! Find out how Blissful cooked on the trail using a tiny stove and pot. Snuggle in a mummy bag in the woods. Create your own “trail name” through drawing and words to earn a carabiner to hook on your day pack or belt loop!

Stop by the library or call us at 814-697-6691 to register. This program is free to all elementary-age students.