Up Next: ‘The Blind Assassin’

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

  • Date began: Feb. 9, 2012
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Project: n/a
  • Reading list: Winter 2011-12, Man Booker Prize
  • Got it: This was a gem I found at my library’s book sale. Nearly perfect condition for $1!
  • Why I picked it up: It’s famous! Plus, I’ve heard nothing but good things about Margaret Atwood and I’ve never read anything by her. For shame!
  • Back of the book: The Blind Assassin opens with these simple, resonant words: “Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.” They are spoken by Iris Chase Griffen, sole surviving descendant of a once rich and influential Ontario family, whose terse account of her sister’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 improvised 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.

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