TITLE: THE BLIND ASSASSIN
AUTHOR: MARGARET ATWOOD
PUBLISHER: VIRAGO BOOKS
GENRE: GENERAL FICTION
The Blind Assassin won the Man Booker Prize in 2000 and the Hammett Prize in 2001.
It was nominated for Governor General’s Award in 2000, Orange Prize for Fiction and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2002.
Time Magazine named it the best novel of 2000 and included it in its list of the 100 greatest English-language novels since 1923.
BLURB FROM THE COVER
“Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge”
More than fifty years on, Iris Chase is remembering Laura’s mysterious death. And so begins an extraordinary and compelling story of two sisters and their secrets. Set against a panoramic backdrop of twentieth-century history, The Blind Assassin is an epic tale of memory, intrigue and betrayal…
Ten days after the war ended my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge. The bridge was being repaired: she went right through the Danger sign. The car fell a hundred feet into the ravine, smashing through the treetops feathery with new leaves, then burst into flames and rolled down into the shallow creek at the bottom. Chunks of the bridge fell on top of it. Nothing much was left of her but charred smithereens.
The Blind Assassin is a library book.
I loved The Blind Assassin. It’s the fifth Atwood novel I’ve read and blew me away like the rest. It’s the first Atwood I’ve read that wasn’t really a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel so I had no idea what to expect. Atwood managed to knock my socks off again. The Blind Assassin is brilliant, just brilliant.
The Blind Assassin uses quite a complex structure, a novel-within-a-novel that happens to be a roman à clef. The main story revolves around Laura’s surviving sister Iris, now an old woman recalling her younger sister’s life and the horrible events that led to her suicide. The novel-within-a-novel aspect deals with a novel published after Laura’s death called The Blind Assassin about an affair between two people. The two people are actually Iris and someone she had an affair with when she was married. The novel is attributed to Laura but was written by Iris during her affair. There is a second novel-within-a-novel as the male character from the novel attributed to Laura writes a science fiction story about his and Laura’s fictional counterpart. It sounds complicated but it’s not really. This novel-within-a-novel aspect shouldn’t work but it does. Atwood pulls it off. I’ve read other novels where the author attempts this and fails. Hats off to Atwood for a job well done.
I loved the characters in The Blind Assassin. The novel is narrated for the most part by Iris. I thought she was a great story-teller, intriguing, messed up and complex. I loved the way the story drift back and forth in time. Her sections would start in the present and move back in time as Iris recalled more and more memories about Laura. I thought Laura was great as well. She was even more complex than Iris, a puzzling enigma. My heart went out to her and I wanted to give her a big hug as Iris gradually revealed the terrible events that led to her driving a car off the bridge. Iris’s husband Richard and sister-in-law Winifred were well-written villains.
Atwood’s writing is on top form as ever in The Blind Assassin. Her writing style is one of the reasons I’ve loved every book I’ve read. She’s a great story-teller. She sucked me right into Iris and Laura’ complex lives and refused to let me go until I had turned the final page. I believe The Blind Assassin is the first novel I’ve read from the Times list.
Atwood gets top marks for the plot of The Blind Assassin. I thought it was very original. I liked the idea of Iris exploring her own past and the events that led to her younger sister’s suicide. I had no idea why Laura drove her car off a bridge until Atwood reveals this very close to the end of The Blind Assassin. The revelation shocked me. I actually wept. Top marks for keeping me on my toes. I hate it when I can see what’s coming. I had no idea what lay ahead in The Blind Assassin.
The Blind Assassin haunted me. I finished it two days ago and I’m still thinking about it. Atwood has been added to my list of favourite writers.