Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Book Review: The Blind Assassin

Author: Margaret Atwood

Pages: 521

Genre: Fiction

Personal Rating 4/5

Awards: Booker Prize

From the back cover:

The Booker Prize -winning sensation from the incomparable Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin combines gothic drama, romantic suspense and science fiction yarn in an entrancing novel of uncommon intricacy and grace.

The novel opens with these simple, resonant words: "Ten days after the war ended, my sister drove a car off the bridge." They are spoken by Iris, whose terse account of her sister Laura's death in 1945 is followed by an inquest report proclaiming the death accidental. But just as the reader expects to settle into Laura's story, Atwood introduces a novel-within-a-novel. Entitled The Blind Assassin, it is a science fiction story told by two unnamed lovers who meet in dingy backstreet rooms. When we return to Iris, it is through a 1947 newspaper article announcing the discovery of a sailboat carrying the dead body of her husband, a distinguished industrialist

What makes this novel Margaret Atwood's strongest and most profoundly entertaining is the way in which the three wonderfully rich stories weave together, gradually revealing through their interplay the secrets surrounding the entire Chase family--and most particularly the fascinating and tangled lives of the two sisters. The Blind Assassin is a brilliant and enthralling book by a writer at the top of her form.
I think to truly appreciate this book it needs to be read more than once. However, I enjoyed it immensely. The reason I say it needs to be read more than once is that the Blind Assassin involves three different stories, that all interweave. The novel jumps back in forth in time from the main characters present to the past. It is written in a very clever fashion. It kept me guessing right up until the very end what had actually happened. I kept thinking I had figured it out, but then I would get a tidbit of information that would make me change me mind. I think Atwood did a fantastic job with the writing.

Knowing now what actually happens I think I would pick up a lot of new information with a reread that I missed the first time through. We all know that there are a lot of books to read out there so I won't be rereading The Blind Assassin just to see what I missed.

It was a little difficult to keep track sometimes of who was actually narrating the story. I wondered sometimes though if that was Atwood's intent. If it was supposed to be confusing and unclear...I'm not sure.

Even though everyone might not like this story I think most people will appreciate that The Blind Assassin is well written. How the three separate, and sometimes confusing, stories end up coming together was impressive and satisfying. The only reason I didn't rate it higher is that I don't want to have to reread novels to "fully understand them" and I think it started slowly.

Do I recommend picking it up? Definitely!

Rhinoa at Rhinoa's Ramblings
Tammy at Tammy's Book Nook

If you have reviewed this book and would like me to link to your review please let me know in the comments


Tammy said...

Enjoyed your review. I read this book last year -- I liked it but it wasn't my favorite Atwood. I've linked to your review in mine, would love it if you would link to my review at http://ramblingsbytammy.blogspot.com/2007/07/blind-assassin-by-margaret-atwood.html


Chayenne said...

This is one of my absolute favorite books. It destroys me every time I read it. It's such a rich, multifaceted story, so it does stand up to (many) rereads. :)


C. B. James said...

I've read it twice so far. Is it my favorite Atwood, maybe.

I love you school countdown clock.

Maw Books said...

I just picked this one up at a library sale. I have never read any Atwood and am looking forward to this one.

Literary Feline said...

Great review, Juli! I am looking forward to reading this book. I have heard mixed reviews about the author's work, and so I am anxious to give her a try and see what I think myself.

Kylee said...

I have this in my TBR. My mom has possession of it at the moment, but I'll definitely read it when it comes back. =)

Plays with Needles said...

I agree that I should probably read this one again. It took me a while to find my flow but, once I did, I loved it. I like the complexity of it. Thanks for the review.

jessi said...

I read this for a Margaret Atwood single author study course in college, and it was one of my favorites (along with Alias Grace and, of course, The Handmaid's Tale). It's so different from her other novels, and it really is an interesting story. I've been meaning to go back and re-read it, and now I think I will. Great review!

bethany said...

I haven't read my copy yet, but your reveiw makes me want to!! Great review, it is fun to read about how much you liked it, and want to re-read it.

Glad to see you have having fun in your OT travels!!!

Jules said...

I saw your post on the A-Z I have the blind assassin on my shelf, just waiting to be read. It looks like such a good book, and now I want to read it even more. Sadly I don't have my copy with me.

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