THE BLIND ASSASSIN by Margaret Atwood
Kirkus Star

THE BLIND ASSASSIN

KIRKUS REVIEW

Atwood’s skillfully woven tenth novel is her most ambitious and challenging work to date, and a worthy successor to her recent triumph, Alias Grace (1996).

It tells two absorbing stories that cast an initially enigmatic, ultimately pitilessly revealing light on each other. The central one is octogenarian Iris Griffen’s bitter reminiscence of her life as the privileged daughter of a prosperous Ontario family, the Chases, and later as wife to Richard Griffen, the businessman who effectively inherits and firmly directs the Chase fortunes. The counterpart story, The Blind Assassin, is a strange futuristic tale that dramatizes in unusual (faux-Oriental) fashion a nameless woman’s obsession with a science-fiction writer whose imaginings blithely mirror and exploit his “power” over her. This latter tale is published as the work of Iris’s younger sister Laura, whose death in a 1945 automobile accident is judged by all who knew the sisters “as close to suicide as damn is to swearing.” Newspaper items reporting notable events in the lives of the Chases and Griffens over a period of more than sixty years further enrich a many-leveled, smartly paced narrative that gradually discloses the nature and root causes of Laura’s unconventionality and “madness,” the full extent of Richard’s compulsive aggrandizement and isolationism, and the price exacted from Iris for the “convenience” of her marriage. Intermittent echoes of Forster’s Howards End sound throughout this bleak saga of political, social, and gender conflict. And Atwood keeps our attention riveted by rendering her increasingly dramatic story in a fluent style distinguished by precise sensory description (“the thin, abstemious rain of early April”) and thought-provoking metaphor (“Laura was flint in a nest of thistledown”). Furthermore, a bombshell of a climactic surprise (which we probably should have seen coming) lurks in the stunning final pages.

Boldly imagined and brilliantly executed.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-385-47572-1
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Talese/Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2000




DON'T BE A LITERARY SNOB, TRY SCI FI:

Fiction THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy
by Cormac McCarthy
Fiction THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE by Audrey Niffenegger
by Audrey Niffenegger
Fiction THE BLIND ASSASSIN by Margaret Atwood
by Margaret Atwood
Fiction ORYX AND CRAKE by Margaret Atwood
by Margaret Atwood

MORE BY MARGARET ATWOOD

FictionMADDADDAM by Margaret Atwood
by Margaret Atwood
NonfictionIN OTHER WORLDS by Margaret Atwood
by Margaret Atwood
FictionTHE YEAR OF THE FLOOD by Margaret Atwood
by Margaret Atwood

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

IndieBETTER DAYS by Kate Kasten
by Kate Kasten
IndieTommy's Path by Ed Ifkovic
by Ed Ifkovic
IndieThe Biology of Luck by Jacob M Appel
by Jacob M Appel