"It's loss and regret and misery and yearning that drive the story forward", writes Margaret Atwood, towards the end of her impressive and complex new novel, The Blind Assassin
. It's a melancholic account of why writers write--and readers read--and one that frames the different lives told through this book. The Blind Assassin
is (at least) two novels. At the end of her life, Iris Griffen takes up her pen to record the secret history of her family, the romantic melodrama of its decline and fall between the two world wars. Conjuring a world of prosperity and misery, marriage and loneliness, the central enigma of Iris's tale is the death of her sister, Laura Chase, who "drove a car off a bridge" at the end of the Second World War. Suicide or accident? The story gradually unfolds, interspersed with sketches of Iris's present-day life--confined by age and ill-health--and a second novel, The Blind Assassin
by Laura Chase. Allowing a glimpse into a clandestine love affair between a privileged young woman and a radical "agitator" on the run, this version of The Blind Assassin
is an overt act of seduction: the exchange of sex and story about an imaginary world of Sakiel-Norn (a play with the potential, and convention, of fantasy and sci-fi).
With the intelligence, subtlety and remarkable characterisation associated with Atwood's writing (from her first novel, The Edible Woman through to the best-selling Alias Grace), these two stories play with one another--sustaining an uncertainty about who has done what to whom and why to the very end of this compelling book. --Vicky Lebeau This review refers to the hardcover edition of this title.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Atwood has never written with more flair and versatility than in this multidimensional novel. Adding sardonic wit and characterisation that takes you into the ambivalent intricacies of a personality, this is a novel of extraordinary variety and reach. A brilliant accomplishment (Peter Kemp, SUNDAY TIMES
The fertility of Atwood's imagination is something extraordinary...The only thing familiar about The Blind Assassin is its technical accomplishment and exhilarating emotional power. Everything else is sparkling new. This is Margaret Atwood at her remarkabl (Kathryn Hughes, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
Margaret Atwood is one of the most brilliant and unpredictable novelists alive. (Kate Kellaway, LITERARY REVIEW
With every year and every novel, Atwood's subjects get bigger...her new novel is so rich thematically and so convincing psychologically... THE BLIND ASSASSIN may indeed prove to be that most elusive of literary unicorns: the woman's novel. (Elaine Showalter, NEW STATESMAN