Title: The Blind Assassin
Author: Margaret Atwood
Publication Year: 2000
Source: E-book borrowed from the public library
From the cover:
“Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.” These words are spoken by Iris Chase Griffen, married at eighteen to a wealthy industrialist but now poor and eighty-two. Iris recalls her far from exemplary life, and the events leading up to her sister’s death, gradually revealing the carefully guarded Chase family secrets. Among these is “The Blind Assassin,” a novel that earned the dead Laura Chase not only notoriety but also a devoted cult following. Sexually explicit for its time, it was a pulp fantasy improvised by two unnamed lovers who meet secretly in rented rooms and seedy cafés. As this novel-within-a-novel twists and turns through love and jealousy, self-sacrifice and betrayal, so does the real narrative, as both move closer to war and catastrophe.
I had to start reading this book more than once before it really caught me. I think that I just needed to get past those first few pages before I was sure that I could really follow along and enjoy it.
Once I got past the story-within-a-story format and started to understand what was going on, I was hooked. I loved the intrigue of figuring out what had happened to everyone in the past. I was less interested in Iris’ “current” life, but the historical lives of the characters in The Blind Assassin fascinated me. I wanted to uncover the “truth” about what had happened to these women, and hoped for something scandalous and fun.
I didn’t love this book as much as I usually enjoy Atwood’s stories, but it wasn’t a disappointment, either. Her usual wit and charm came through the pages as usual, and I found myself reading along only slightly less excited than when I’ve read some of her other books, like Alias Grace. (I definitely didn’t feel like The Blind Assassin was on the par of, say, The Handmaid’s Tale or Oryx and Crake … but those are lofty ideals.)