The Blind Assassin

The Blind Assassin

Book - 2000
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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Handmaid's Tale

WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE

In The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood weaves together strands of gothic suspense, romance, and science fiction into one utterly spellbinding narrative. The novel begins with the mysterious death--a possible suicide--of a young woman named Laura Chase in 1945. Decades later, Laura's sister Iris recounts her memories of their childhood, and of the dramatic deaths that have punctuated their wealthy, eccentric family's history. Intertwined with Iris's account are chapters from the scandalous novel that made Laura famous, in which two illicit lovers amuse each other by spinning a tale of a blind killer on a distant planet. These richly layered stories-within-stories gradually illuminate the secrets that have long haunted the Chase family, coming together in a brilliant and astonishing final twist.
Publisher: New York : N.A. Talese, 2000.
Edition: 1st ed. in the U.S.A.
ISBN: 9780385720953
0385720955
Branch Call Number: FICTION Atwood Margaret 09/2000
Characteristics: 521 p. ;,25 cm.

Opinion

From Library Staff

2000 Booker Prize / 2000 Hammett

Atwood's first win

Winner of the Booker Prize 2000

Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.
Thus begins The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood's Booker Prize-winning novel.

Luckily, our sisterly relationship is pretty easy-going. But it's fun to read a mystery/thriller about sisters...


From the critics


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k
kcobb85
Sep 03, 2020

(Really, I'm listening to the audiobook but that wasn't an option.)

d
dgiard
May 08, 2020

"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."

Iris was the daughter of wealthy industrialist in a small Canadian city. She and her younger sister Laura grew up in a small Canadian town with their widowed father and their housekeeper, until Iris's arranged marriage at 18 years to an ambitious businessman twice her age.

That is all gone now. Iris is an old woman telling the story of her life and her abusive marriage and her sister's suicide and her lost family.

Margaret Atwood's "The Blind Assassin" is a complex story, narrated in a nonlinear fashion by octogenarian protagonist.

The book's title comes from a story told by a character in a novel by Laura published by Iris after Laura's death. This story within a story within a story works because the characters in each narrative reflect the lives and feelings of those in the surrounding narrative.

The story unfolds through Iris's writing, through newspaper clippings, through letters, and through the allegories of the embedded stories. Iris's tale jumps around in time and the book often cuts to Laura's novel and back again. This complexity allows Atwood to slowly reveal the tragedy of family. Through her reflections, Iris peels away the layers of a story to slowly reveal what drove her sister to take her own life.

Her reflections reveal her feeling of guilt and the regrets she carries.

I read this novel over a weekend - fearing that if I set it aside for long, I would lose the many threads balancing in my head.

It is a story of manipulation and blind pursuit of power and control
It is a story of violence against women
It is a story of women who sacrifice themselves to protect others.
It is a story of disappointment

When I finished, I was exhausted.

t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
Jan 13, 2020

A story inside a story inside a story...
Laura Chase drove her car off a bridge.
But why?
Her older sister Iris is still grappling with this, years later as an elderly woman. Laura's only published book, "The Blind Assassin" which tells the story of two lovers creating a pulp fiction sci-fi story, might hold the answers. Or maybe the story that Iris writes in the modern day, about her and her sister's childhood, will reveal a clue.
Although she's best known for The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood has a whole library full of amazing, spellbinding novels. The Blind Assassin makes for a wonderful introduction, or for Atwood veterans, a great addition to the reading list. Some may find it slow, but patience will be well rewarded. This multi-layered story will keep you guessing until the very end.
@viedelabibliothèque of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Oct 14, 2019

I'm circling back around and reading Margaret Atwood titles I didn't read when they were first published. This one is excellent! I loved the story-within-a-story-within-a-story format.

s
StrangelyExuberant
Jun 28, 2019

I have always loved stories where you go back to another time. Like checking out those abandoned houses and wondering what stories lie within. Through this story you become immersed in Iris Chase Griffen's life. The characters of her world come into focus as more information is revealed and as the novel within a novel takes place. A family who on the surface has an unbreakable facade has secrets that anyone would want to keep hidden. By the end I felt so connected with Iris that the end gripped me in sadness. This will be one story that I never forget.

Phil_R Oct 07, 2018

Ugh. I rarely finish a book I don't enjoy, but Atwood strung me along all the way through with the pulp fantasy aspects. Kept hoping 'The Blind Assassin' narrative would take over the dreary biopic details of Iris and Laura. Can someone please tell me which Atwood novels to read if I love the Maddadam trilogy, or was Maddadam just her way of teasing readers with what she is capable of in realms of fantasy?

Leafpeeper May 20, 2018

This is the book for those who appreciate descriptive writing and unpredictable plots. Word choice is flawless. Questions linger until the absolute end.

l
LadyDi52
Mar 02, 2018

I was disappointed in the plodding pace of this book, it reminded me a lot of Alice Hoffman's family tree style of writing. Set in small town Ontario, maybe if you're from a place like that you might enjoy it, but it didn't live up to the "fascinating" reviews it has been given.

f
fpsutka
Nov 07, 2017

I found it confusing a first but once I figured out that the story was flipping back and forth in time I got into it! It really is a novel within a novel!

d
darcyhudjik
Jul 12, 2017

Awesome characters and an intriguing plot by Atwood.

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SPL_STARR Jun 16, 2015

"Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge."

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