Published by Virago Press Ltd on 2000
Genres/Lists: Fiction, 1001 Books
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)
The last time I read an Atwood book was years ago and it was The Handmaid’s Tale. I liked the book but wasn’t a critical enough reader at the time to fully understand the story (one day I’ll get around to rereading it), but now that I’m older and, dare I say wiser, I can say that I adore this author and can’t wait to read more by her. I picked up The Blind Assassin because it’s on the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list and I’ve been on a “chunky, contemporary classic” kick lately and this one fit the bill. I didn’t know much about it other than it was a story within a story but even knowing that I was completely unprepared for the brilliance of story.
It’s hard to summarize such a long and complex book, but the short version is that it’s actually three stories in one. The first is about a woman named Iris who, in present day, looks back on her life, including her marriage to wealthy man and her complicated relationship with her sister, who died as a young woman. The second is the vivid recreation of Iris’s past, itself. The third is a book written by Iris’s tragically misunderstood sister who’s death serves as an unspoken catalyst for the entire story.
If I thought summarizing the book up was hard, I can say that telling you why I loved this book is equally difficult. It’s no secret that Atwood has a way with words and is able to weave a complex story with complete ease, but she is also able to foster empathy for misunderstood characters. Atwood manages to recreate a world where the suppression of women is commonplace, but not evil, while at the same time punctuating the story with little rebellions by strong women. Feminism in the 1930’s was of a very different variety than today and Atwood‘s ability to capture both the the reality of the times and the subtle ways women rebelled is nothing short of stunning.