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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius
I always felt that Margaret Atwood would never be able to beat 'Alias Grace' for sheer brilliance and inventiveness but that is exactly what she has done with this novel. 'The Blind Assassin' is a difficult book to read in the early stages but nevertheless compelling. We are thrown between past and present as carelessly as the protagonist, and fluctuate between feelings...
Published on 28 July 2001

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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Blind Assassin - a book worth persevering with
The Blind Assassin is a book that is definitely worth persevering with although it might be a disappointment to Margaret Atwood fans who are expecting another Robber Bride or Cat's Eye. Unlike these two books, it can't exactly be described as "page turner". The pace in the beginning is slow and the main characters come across as cold and are quite difficult to...
Published on 5 Feb 2002


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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius, 28 July 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Blind Assassin (Paperback)
I always felt that Margaret Atwood would never be able to beat 'Alias Grace' for sheer brilliance and inventiveness but that is exactly what she has done with this novel. 'The Blind Assassin' is a difficult book to read in the early stages but nevertheless compelling. We are thrown between past and present as carelessly as the protagonist, and fluctuate between feelings of sympathy and irritation throughout. I mentioned to a friend whilst I was a good way into the novel that it was great but not as good as 'Alias Grace' and that was how I felt until the last 50 pages - in those pages I witnessed the greatest ending in a book ever and one that had me weeping. Not only did the end of the book move me but I was also upset that I could not continue to read it. They say that the sign of a good book is that you don't want it to end and for possibly only the third time in my life I could so empathise with that cliche. This book has to be read of that there is no doubt!
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Blind Assassin - a book worth persevering with, 5 Feb 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Blind Assassin (Paperback)
The Blind Assassin is a book that is definitely worth persevering with although it might be a disappointment to Margaret Atwood fans who are expecting another Robber Bride or Cat's Eye. Unlike these two books, it can't exactly be described as "page turner". The pace in the beginning is slow and the main characters come across as cold and are quite difficult to relate to. The more you read however, the more compelling the characters and plot become and the ending will really keep you guessing. I wanted to give up on this book after a few pages but was glad I persevered to the end.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading - highly recommended, 8 Aug 2004
This review is from: The Blind Assassin (Paperback)
The plot is quite straightforward : an old and dying Iris Chase is remembering her life and especially the life of her sister who committed suicide at the age of 25. However the story is more complicated than that as in fact there are several stories wound into one and of course there are secrets and lies surrounding the lives of the two sisters. It is a complex, brilliantly written book, a little hard to get into perhaps but don't give up, you could find it hard going at first but it's worth it! A really gripping read. Atwood fans won't be disappointed and if you are new to Atwood, don't worry you will get into the story and it's normal to re-read certain pages, she's so amazingly complex (in a good way) that you have to concentrate to make sure you don't miss anything crucial! Once you've read her, you'll be hooked. I also recommend Alias Grace, which is brilliant too! It also took a while to get into, as Atwood sets the scene with painstaking detail, but it's worth it and had me thinking about the main character long after I'd finished the book ...
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Margaret Atwood at her best, 4 Dec 2001
By 
R. Simpson (South Kirkby, Yorks, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Blind Assassin (Paperback)
It's a relief to find the Booker Award is not just some kind of retrospective justice for the failure to reward The Handmaid's Tale - and an even greater relief to find that the multiple narrative format of the novel is neither confusing (after the first dozen pages) nor pretentious. The extracts from newspapers and magazines which chart the public life of the Chases and Griffens provide a grounding in fact as well as a wickedly amusing satire on snobbery and provincialism. 'The Blind Assassin' itself, the novel that created Laura Chase's posthumous reputation, operates on twin levels of realism and fantasy and equally the main narrative in the person of her sister Iris unites past and present (1999). Atwood manages throughout to maintain a subtle and convincing mix of sympathy for, and detachment from, her characters, allowing irony to flourish alongside involvement. The reader is even flattered by the creation of mysteries which he/she is lured into solving before they are officially unveiled: 'But you must have known that for some time', Atwood writes disarmingly after uncovering the central deception. Of course we did: aren't we clever? Not quite as clever as Ms Atwood, though.
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46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dazzling,haunting novel of hidden love and family secrets., 7 Oct 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Blind Assassin (Hardcover)
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood is a difficult book to catergorize. It works on a dizzying number of levels: A historical novel, depicting an industrial and social milieu in early twentieth century Canada; a complex and shadowy love story; as a study of the symbolism of science fiction, or as a story of women and men and the secrets that bind them. It is the story of two sisters, Iris and Laura, who grow up in provincial Canada, daughters of a wealthy man who runs a button-making factory. The novel opens with a description of Laura's apparent suicide after the Second World War, and then Iris takes over as narrator, trying to understand and unravel the threads of Laura's life and her own. The Blind Assassin is the name of the novel that Laura leaves behind. Published posthumously, it becomes a controversial cult classic in the manner of Plath's writings, lauded as a proto-feminist classic. Iris is the reluctant keeper of her sister's troublesome flame. Woven around this intriguing structure is a dazzling array of characters: anarchists, bitter society women, strikers, husbands, housekeepers and lovers.
Atwood has always had an erudite, sexy and witty way with language and this new novel is no exception. The Blind Assassin, the novel within the novel, consists of an un-named man relating weird and distrurbing science fiction to an equally anonymous upper class woman. Atwood lets rip with her rich and persuasive use of language, conjuring up cities of strange creatures, sacrifical virgins, blind assassins, women who roam the mountains, devouring men, mythologies and exotic religions. The erotic relationship between the two nameless protaganists is consumated in a series of seedy hotel and rooms, furtive and forbidden. Paranoia and fear of discovery follow them everywhere. It seems a strange choice of themes and styles that Atwood has chosen to combine, but the unsettling ideas that bubble through both sides of the story are haunting and stay with you long after putting the book down. You see things coming and then they vanish and you have to re-read passages and re-think your reactions. It shimmers in front of you, glinting off the page. Ultimately it is a deeply moving novel, whose charaters come vividly to life. I found myself crying softly as I finished it, touched by the beauty and pain in the lives of the characters and also by my own yearning for something I can't quite explain. But if you read this extraordinary novel you will perhaps understand what I mean.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 31 Aug 2012
My first Atwood book after I've heard so many good reviews of her books. Chose this one as it has won the Booker Prize a while ago. Quite agree with some other reviewers on Amazon site - how could this book win the booker prize? But then another book by a Canadian writer Yann Martel "Life of Pi" also won the same prize and to me, it was so boring I had to give up reading it which I rarely do!

Quite an intruding and fascinating plot and it started very engagingly as well. Her writing style is good too. So I had high hopes for it. But after 15% of the book, it gets more and more boring. She tried to spice the book up by inventing some silly alien sci-fi elements but it felt as if she just wanted to cram these in without any purpose. At about 40-50% of the book, the plot is pretty clear to me yet the book tried to be elusive as if a huge suspense is coming at the end, unfortunately not in this case. So it was quite annoying to read so.

What a shame! I think it will be a great book if it was cut down to half of its size, (646 pages to 300 pages) and get rid of some mundane and boring details especially family history bit and old Iris coping with aging and poor health and reminiscing about the past unemotionally to the readers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'one of the most brilliant and unpredictable novelists alive', 6 May 2012
By 
sally tarbox (aylesbury bucks uk) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Blind Assassin (Paperback)
Absolutely outstanding and brilliantly written novel. Four strands of writing are interspersed: the present day narrative from elderly Iris Chase, a widow struggling with getting old. Then Iris delves back in time, recalling her privileged childhood, then the Depression, her marriage and throughout it all her sister Laura (whose suicide aged 25 opens the novel). Then there's documentary evidence- newspaper reports on the deaths, marriages, society parties and business concerns of the Chase family.
And intermingled is the novel 'the Blind Assassin' for which Laura received so much posthumous credit. It tells of a wealthy young woman and her secret assignations. The young man is poor and wanted for revolutionary activities; he makes a living writing for sci-fi mags and entertains his lover with an ongoing story of an imaginary land and a blind assassin...
There's a huge denouement at the end and the writing is superb. Atwood is totally convincing whether writing as an old woman or a young love-struck teenager.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blind Assassination, Atwood hits her target with so much style she may as well be blind, 22 July 2006
By 
S. Howard "Wuthering Heights RULES!!" (Liverpool, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Blind Assassin (Paperback)
This is the third Atwood novel ive read, unlike her other works, i feel the blind assassin stands alone, seperatly. Her flowing poetic style remains as always bang on the mark, and the novel reads effortlessly, the structure is complex, and devides clearly into two seperate (or seemingly seperate) plots; the account of Iris Chase's life, and her sisters novel: The Blind Assassin. The two are linked soley by Laura Chase, Iris's sister. The subject of society and desire, are explored in this novel.

The novel opens with a simple idea, Iris's sister Laura killed herself by driving off a bridge, just after the end of WW2. And in wake of her death, her only novel "The Blind Assassin" is published to huge critical acclaim. Iris remembers this, and the events leading up to the climax of the Blind Assassin. Atwood explores the nature of Canada's high society, and the importence of doing your duty in life through Iris's eyes, and meanwhile greatly challenges this in the interwoven novel in a novel: laura's Novel - The Blind Assassin. The split view on life is seen through Atwoods juxtapositioning of Iris's story and Laura's story.

As events conspire the old saying "art immitates life" is clearly seen, the power of suggestion plays as a vital suspence device, i found myself asking "that association cannot be right". Atwood shows that sometimes in life what we dont say can be screamingly obvious, and more important than what we do say. The absolute plot twist is expected through what is implied but not said within both streams of the novel, this doesnt make it any less shocking. Within the novel it shows how what we dont say can ruin lives, perhaps even more than the things we do say. Atwoods powers of suggestion and manipulation of emotion are flawless, her depth is inspiring, her style compulsive.

I would greatly advise you to read on, and be engulfed in Atwoods exception writing. a first rate novel, with an unlikely plot, well not what i expected. But still a brilliant and enjoyable read. Atwood is serious literature and is destined to become a classic author. So read this book and become immersed in Atwoods world, go on, the secrets of Iris are to tantalising to resist.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite simply moving, 4 Sep 2001
This review is from: The Blind Assassin (Paperback)
This was my first Atwood book, I am glad to say that I was not disappointed. This was writing at its best. The reader is drawn ever so subtley into feeling for the characters (Iris and Laura) and wanting to discover their respective fates, and why their paths unfolded so...
A book I did not want to end. I believe that Alias Grace is even better, difficult to believe though....wonderful.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this one, 23 July 2014
This is the third time I've read this book and I just love it. I am a huge Margaret Atwood fan and this book just doesn't disappoint. Linked at the time of its release with McEwan's Atonement, it features an unreliable narrator (Iris) who is writing down her life story. The story is largely through her reflections and memoirs but there are sections in between each where the narrator is not Iris (or is it?) which details the story of a love affair between an unnamed woman and a man who writes pulp sci-fi. The juxtaposition of the two narratives is utterly brilliant. One has the sense that Iris, narrating her story, is precisely what her obituary at the end records her to be "a landmark of history". Indeed, Iris IS history, a living embodiment of it, as she relates the story of her home town, Port Ticonderoga and her family history there. Spanning two wars, the depression, the launch of the Queen Mary and her subsequent conversion into a troop ship, this really does cover a lot of ground. Then there is the sci-fi narrative, which, if nothing else is a story of yearning and possibility. There is the wonderful moment of Iris's dream towards the end of the book: "But it was so beautiful! She says. Now it seems to her like a place she's known; she's known it very well, she's known it like the back of her hand. In the sky three moons have risen. Zycron, she thinks. Beloved planet, land of my heart. Where, once, long ago, I was happy." p. 469 Suddenly, there is that moment of possiblity, of alternative futures and of lives that might have been led had the narrators of the stories chosen different paths. There's even the tantilising possiblity that Zycron is real. I loved this book - there's so much going on and it is so poignantly and sensitively written. An absolute must read, whether you are an Atwood fan or not.
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The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (Hardcover - 26 Sep 2000)
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