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The Blind Assassin

by Margaret Atwood

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood X
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2000, 544 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2001, 544 pages

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There are currently 17 reader reviews for The Blind Assassin
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Karen

Patience, please
When I first started reading this book I thought I wouldn't be able to finish it. The segments about the Blind Assassin and the news clips seemed to interrupt the story, and I couldn't put them together with the rest of the novel. Thank goodness I didn't stop there. The two sisters aren't totally likable people. Iris is cold-hearted and passive, while Laura is soft, irresponsible and self indulgent. Both are self focused women who pride themselves on their dishonesty and don't seem to relate well to the world around them. The book leaves some issues unresolved, like what did Laura know and when did she actually find out? We can guess, but we will never know for sure because Iris never does. Oh yes, and I loved Cat's Eye, Orynx and Crake, and the Handmaid's Tail. But I always think the last Atwood book I read was the best one yet.
yoda

Ten days after the war ended,my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge
What I am about to do is very difficult. I really want to plug this book, so other people will pick it up and love it too. I don't know how to categorize it, much less what to put in this review. So here goes nothing.

When I first saw this book a few years ago in Wal-Mart, I immediately wrote it off as "chick lit." Mostly, because of the flapper girl on the cover. Then about a month ago, I saw her again looking at me straight in the eye, at the library. So I gave her another chance.

As as I read the first sentence which is the title for my review, I realized I had stumbled into something special.

The book is divided into two stories, a science fiction love story & and a sprawling epic.

The first story is told by an 83 year old woman, Iris Chase Griffin.She has lived an extraordinary life like marrying a business tycoon really young and sailing all around the world with him on the maiden voyage of The Queen Mary cruise liner ship in the thirties. But there also a lot of tragedies that occur in her life as well.

She is writing her memoirs for her estranged granddaughter,Sabrina that her drug addicted daughter and evil sister-in-law never let her see. Iris has kept tabs on Sabrina and knows all about her. She also knows with her heart condition this is her final chance to set the records straight for her granddaughter and let her know how special she was to Iris even thought have never really talked.

The other story is science fiction love saga supposedly written by Iris's obnoxious, irrepressible kid-sister Laura, which was published after she died in a freak car accident. The novel was called "The Blind Assassin". It is about these two unnamed lovers, that meet in secret and drink, make love and tell goofy science fiction stories to each other.

One of them ties in perfectly with Iris's story on many levels, and other one is a really silly comic book one about alien women who grow on trees and laugh and agree with whatever the men say, and satisfy every desire they want every minute of the day. But soon the men realize that this gets kind of boring after a while.

The Blind Assassin was my favorite part because it reminds of me of a graphic novel. I like that the author interspersed the stories together. It kept me craving more information from Iris's true story and the Blind Assassin gave me a break from Iris. She was a decent narrator. But she is a total snob at times, and has this very annoying "victim complex" that she carried around with her into her old age.

The one big complaint I have is that there too many characters and things going at the same time and it makes parts of this book extremely hard to shovel through. The parts where Iris blathers on and on about her entire family tree for at least fifty pages are a good example of what I am talking about. It was instances like this when I wanted to put the book down, but I kept reading it to see what happened in the end and it was rewarding and well worth it.
SMN

This book rocks!! There are no words that can say how much I loved this book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
SMN

This book is nothing short of a masterpiece! Atwood takes one book and it holds four storys and put them into one book. The story takes you to places you never could think of. The words of Atwood flow from the pen with easy. I loved this book!
Veronica

My husband bought me this on the strength of Amazon telling him that people who bought Alice Munro books also liked Margaret Atwood. I'm not sure what the similarity could be, apart from the fact that they are both Canadian. If Alice Munro stories are as intricate and delicate as an intaglio brooch, on the evidence of "The Blind Assassin" Margaret Atwood's novels are like unwieldy cabin trunks bulging with old clothes, scraps of paper, newsclippings, and tattered notebooks.

This is a long book and like other reviewers it took me a while to get into it -- for the first 100 pages I really wasn't sure whether I would finish it. It starts out with an elderly woman, Iris Chase, looking back at her childhood with her younger sister Laura in a country mansion near Toronto during the 1920s and 30s. Their father owns a local button factory, brough to the brink of ruin by the Depression. At the age of 17, Iris marries (or is married off to) one of his competitors in the belief that her father's business will be saved as a result, but things don't turn out quite the way she thought they would. This story is interspersed with extracts from newspapers spanning 60 years, hinting at the family's trials and tribulations, and instalments of Laura's posthumously published novel, in which a story of doomed lovers mingles with thirties pulp science fiction featuring spaceships, scaly aliens, sacrificed princesses, and "undead" green women with purple hair and pointy breasts.

Confused? You will be ... but gradually I was drawn into the story, and the apparently conflicting parts of it started to slot together, the disordered cabin trunk turning into a Rubik's cube. You start to wonder how the repressed, exploited and apparently passive young Iris turns into the acerbic, often witty old lady who is telling the tale. Strange parallels appear between science fiction and real life. At the same time, Atwood drops subtle hints that this pattern is not telling quite the whole story -- there is still something hidden. I started to suspect at least part of the dénouement about 300 pages in, but I was still so riveted by the last 100 pages that I stayed up late to finish them, rather than put the book down. It's not just a gripping story/stories, or a feminist/political tract though -- it's about all sorts of other things as well, including why and how writers turn life into fiction. Marvellous -- I'm really glad I read it. I also *highly* recommend "Alias Grace" -- a totally different approach, but equally compelling. For my money, Atwood is one of the greatest modern novelists, and she grows greater with every book.
Bernadette

This is an amazing book! It is breathtaking, a wonderfully colorful journey through the life of a woman. Hours of great reading. Highly recomended! This book simply can NOT be missed!!! Make sure to read it you will NOT be upset! :)
Anonymous

This is simply the finest novel by a contemporary writer that I have read in the last three decades. Ironically, I almost put it down after nearly a third. I was baffled by and annoyed with the Blind Assasin chapters, considering them a distraction from the family story I was enjoying. I found myself skipping whole paragraphs. I stuck with it, becoming more and more fascinated. By the time I finished, I had been swept away. I IMMEDIATELY began to read it once more from the beginning, and I would recommend a second reading (at the very least) to everyone. Having had the truth revealed, the reader discovers layer upon layer of nuance and meaning. Not a word did I skip on this second reading; I was enthralled. I was in tears when I finished it the second time. My daughter, half a continent away, has begun it now, and I am reading it for the third time, so that we can discuss it by email as we go. (She, by the way, is LOVING the science fiction story that, for a time, put me off, and she is showing me symbolisms that I missed.) This third time I am simply relishing the lyrical beauty of Atwood's writing and the validity, wisdom and humor of Iris' "voice." I find passages reverberating in my mind as I fall asleep at night. These characters have become part of my emotional landscape. I suspect they will be me with for the rest of my life, and I am grateful to Ms. Atwood for bringing them to me.
Ashley Edmonds

I loved the Book, This is the first novel by Margaret twood I have read and I think that it was great. I even chose to do my english report on it. This book also related to alot of what I was learning in my History class. This book really helped me to see what it was like to live in a time like this and helped to bring history to life.

The only thing I was a little confused with was the part about the secret couple getting together and making that story..it put me a little off track from the rest.
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