The Blind Assassin
by Margaret Atwood
Category: Fiction / General
637 pages; ISBN: 1-86049-880-9
Rating: 7/10 (Ratings explained)
The Blind Assaasin is a complex tale of two upper middle class sisters set in Toronto during the first half of the twentieth century although it is narrated by the elder sister who has survived to the present day.It won the Booker Prize in 2001.
The novel appears dauntingly long and has a very complex narrative structure but Atwood's prose style means it is never difficult to read.The story starts with Iris Chase describing the death of her sister Laura in 1945.Laura is notable for a novel "The Blind Assassin", the chapters of which are interwoven with Iris's autobiographical narrative. Laura's novel is about an illicit affair in which the man is pitching ideas for a science fiction screenplay so he relates to the woman his lenghty scenarios - the main one concerning a blind assassin.For good measure Atwood also incorporates some newspaper reports for objectivity.Have you got all that ?
No doubt the science fiction interludes are meant to throw some new light on Iris's story, a melancholy tale of family decline,forced compromises and class politics.I think it would take one or two re-reads before everything fell into place but it's not necessary to master every nuance to enjoy the novel.
As usual with family sagas, particularly those that begin with a mysterious death, there are a couple of big secrets to reveal at the end.The first is well-signposted and boringly obvious but the second is a genuine wrong-footing surprise.