Customer Reviews for

The Blind Assassin

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Beguiling to the last sentence

This book sat on my shelf for several months before I had the courage to read Atwood's best work. Blind Assassin is for the serious or the literary reader. And, very quickly we are thrown into a novel w/in the novel. The name? Blind Assassin written by Laura chase and p...
This book sat on my shelf for several months before I had the courage to read Atwood's best work. Blind Assassin is for the serious or the literary reader. And, very quickly we are thrown into a novel w/in the novel. The name? Blind Assassin written by Laura chase and published posthumously after her death in 1945 by her sister, Iris.

Iris discovers: "Nothing is more difficult than to understand the dead, I've found; but nothing is more dangerous than to ignore them."

Did Laura purposely drive off that bridge? Do Iris' relationships to her father, much older husband, Alex, and even to Laura die in that car as well. Which sister is Laura writing about in her novel? And whom is the male lover in Blind Assassin that tells fantastical Sci Fi stories. Are they actually parables lifted from Laura and Iris' life to explain or justify each girl's choices? Or they something else, still yet defining Laura and Iris?

Atwood never yields to cynicism, or contempt for her characters. The result; a rich world of layered truths and lies of Laura and Iris. Atwood uses Iris to tell their story, define their relationships-all of them-to understand the dead and finally lay them to Rest in Peace. Thus Iris is revealed, and finally at peace with her life-warts and all, in the Autumn of her own life.
This book deserves more stars than this rating and the time it takes to read this wonderful story. I was very dissapointed that I had come to the last word. This marvelous book is a gem of an addition to my book collection and hopefully to yours.

posted by Molinarolo on April 17, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

Award-winning tedium

My colleagues in public libraries often write emphatic articles about the importance of getting the public to read Serious Modern Fiction (SMF). I envision some of them marching people to the shelves at gunpoint. Never having been a big fan of SMF, for the last few...
My colleagues in public libraries often write emphatic articles about the importance of getting the public to read Serious Modern Fiction (SMF). I envision some of them marching people to the shelves at gunpoint. Never having been a big fan of SMF, for the last few years, I have been attending library book clubs and independently pursuing a program of reading classics. Blind Assassin, the fourth and worst Margaret Atwood novel that I have read has convinced me that I have been wasting my time. From now on I¿m sticking to my usual nonfiction with a leavening of mysteries and fantasies. Genre fiction is often decried as being ¿formulaic¿. And Blind Assassin isn¿t? The little motherless mites with the faithful maid and the distant father; the doomed sibling; the nasty upper-class husband vs the lower-class lover; the hollow proprieties of an older time; the tackiness of modern life, etc. Of course, Atwood has a gimmick that apparently dazzled the critics. You¿ve heard of the story-within-a-story, and you¿ve heard of the alternating narratives ¿ well this baby has TWO stories-within-stories as alternating narratives!!! But, wait! There¿s more ¿ a third narrative consisting mostly of newspapers clippings that parallels one of the narratives!!! Wow, how could you dare to ask for an interesting plot or well-developed characters?! These kind of narrative tricks are marvelous if they create an effect that can¿t be handled in a straightforward narrative, but otherwise it¿s like the competition to write the longest sentence in English: sure it takes some cleverness to think up an additional clause that hasn¿t been used, but is the result worth reading? In my opinion, a novel is either an involving narrative that creates a world that¿s completely real as long as one is reading ¿ or the author should do nonfiction. The book could have been vastly improved by eliminating about 190 of the first 200 pages. The narrative, which is supposed to be a memoir, contains entirely too much detail; it reminds me of a total stranger latching onto someone in a public place to drone on about themselves. Worse, all the detail is lavished upon insignificant things like ambient dog feces or styrofoam cups. The engine of much of the plot is the strong feelings that Alex Thomas inspires in the Chase sisters, but he¿s a such a shadowy figure that I can¿t imagine what they see in him nor do I have any feeling for him (or any other character). We know that he was a war orphan raised by a Presbyterian minister, he¿s a leftist of some sort, he writes science-fiction short stories, he fought in the Spanish Civil War and died in World War II. What little we experience of his personality, which is recounted by a sexual partner (lover would be too euphemistic and sentimental), seems pretty abrasive and obnoxious. I can¿t imagine that Iris¿ memoir would have much effect on her long-estranged granddaughter, assuming Sabrina had the patience to plow through it: Sabrina and her mother rank well below bathroom grafitti in importance. Atwood attempts to pour on the pathos in the last couple of pages, but since Iris doesn¿t appear to have noticed her daughter between her birth and the age of eight, bathos is more like it.

posted by Anonymous on June 26, 2003

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2013

    the book by margaret atwood is a splendid creation of fiction an

    the book by margaret atwood is a splendid creation of fiction and the imagination that people can conjure up in their minds.........the book is relly an interesting book and teaches us alot of messages and advices that we can learn from...........................................

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2005

    Not as complex as many others claim it to be.

    The most wonderful thing about this book is the side-by-side storytelling of the main plot along with a main character's own novel (which itself contains a sub-story). Interesting and well-done. The main plot 'twists,' however, are easily guessable. I had only finished half of the book when I knew the big secret which drove Iris' sister Laura to despair. I can't imagine anyone else not being able to figure it out. If the author had kept that 'revelation' hidden, this book would have been amazing. Instead, it was just ok. But still a worthwhile read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2003

    Alienated (no pun intended) from cast?

    Perhaps the main problem with 'The Blind Assassin' is it takes 600-plus pages to tell what is, in effect, a very simple story. I feel that it is a weakness for Atwood to fill in so much background on her heroine's forebears when she should be concentrating on her main protaganists-Iris herself, Laura, Richard, Winifred and (of course) Alex Thomas. I came away feeling that I didn't really know any of the characters and was especially disappointed by Laura and Alex who, as brilliant-and-dead sister and pinko-subversive lover, ought to have been much more dynamic. So while it's well-written and full of intrigue and the sci-fi bits are good, I doubt whether it merits the prestige of the Booker Prize.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2002

    Depression Era Skullduggery

    This latest novel of Margaret Atwood's makes for interesting reading, although the idea of having three plots running concurrently does irritate at times. I'm sure all Atwood fans will love this one, but to be honest I found it somewhat lacking after the brilliant Alias Grace that preceded it. As always Atwood seems to probe at the darker leanings of the human psyche.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2001

    Good, but too long

    It took me a while to get into the story. I liked the way Atwood phrased things and I could relate to a lot of the main characters thoughts and feelings. However, I felt the novel was too long and the author insulted the reader's intelligence by saying too much at the end. I figured out the whole thing in the middle of the story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2000

    Just okay

    I have read some of her other books, such as the Robber Bride, and have thought them fantastic. I was kind of disappointed by this one. It was just all right, and I just kept waiting for it to get better, but it was kind of dull. Wait for the paperback.

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