The Blind Assassin opens with these simple, resonant words: "Ten days after the war ended, my sister Larua 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 digy 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.
This is the second Margaret Atwood book that I've read. The first was Alias Grace. I liked Alias Grace a lot but I really liked The Blind Assassin... especially towards the end.
I found The Blind Assassin a little difficult to get into right from the beginning because the characters seemed distant and cold and the narrative kept changing. The Blind Assassin is a story-within-a-story-within-a-story. That's right, there are three stories in The Blind Assassin, so you really get your money's worth for this one book :)
The Blind Assassin is mostly Iris Chase Griffen's reminiscence of her past. Iris was the daughter of an important businessman, who had little time for his children. Iris had a younger sister, Laura, who she felt responsible for taking of during their childhood. The dynamics of Chase sisters childhood is a sad story of a neglect and detached emotional relationships.
Within Iris's present and her past, the reader is also given excerpts of a book, The Blind Assassin. Personally, I loved The Blind Assassin excerpts. They were very imaginative. Once I got a bearing of the different stories, I really got into each of them and wanted to know how it turned out for all of the characters. I won't say more because I don't want to give away any of the endings.
By the end of the book, I just felt pity for all of the characters and their lives. I wanted them to have much more than they had gotten in life. The Blind Assassin is a beautifully narrated book that is emotional and poignant.
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars