The Blind Assassin is the best book I have ever read in my entire life, no doubt. This novel has cemented that, in my mind, Atwood is a genius.
It's gThe Blind Assassin is the best book I have ever read in my entire life, no doubt. This novel has cemented that, in my mind, Atwood is a genius.
It's going to be difficult for me to write this review without spoiling anything (I am desperate not to do this, because the truth, when it is revealed, is so shocking and brutal that I will leave it to the better writers) and also it will be difficult to review this book fairly without falling into hyperbolic language. But to be fair, words like "perfection" "jaw-droppingly superb" and "absolutely fantastic" really don't do it justice.
The Blind Assassin is a tale of two sisters, Iris and Laura Chase, who come from a very rich family. Their father is well-respected and the owner of a successful button factory; their mother is a kind woman, though it seems to me that they are raised essentially by the servant and housekeeper, Reenie. On the first page, you are told that Laura Chase died at the end of the war by driving a car off a bridge and drowning. The rest of the novel tells the tale of what happened in the past and present, masterfully weaving from present day to the 1930s to the time after Laura's death, to back again. As the tale goes on, numerous more characters die, a lot of their deaths shrouded in mystery. All that you know, in the beginning, is that Laura is the author of the novel The Blind Assassin, which is also fed to the reader in drips and drabs, with unnamed characters (they are simply known as "he" and "she").
So what's so great about this novel? Well... how long have you got?
The structure of this (very long) novel is quite different to most. Set in, I believe, fifteen parts, it alternates between excerpts of The Blind Assassin and newspaper cuttings, and Iris as an old woman reliving the past, which forms the majority of the novel. I love this. It keeps you guessing all along just who the characters of The Blind Assassin are, until the very end.
This is also done through imagery. Atwood is quite simply a superb writer, and her evocative use of metaphoric "drowning" throughout shadows Laura's untimely end. This is done almost constantly, and it wasn't until the end that I realised Iris's statue of the angel, where Laura is buried, epitomises Laura absolutely. Yes she has her faults, but essentially she is pure innocent, used and abused throughout by the other, humanly flawed characters.
The characterisation is another plus. No character can be absolutely hated (except maybe Winifred, but even there there may be something to pity). Reenie, despite being judgemental and critical, is a motherly figure, and when a certain character feels shamed by her, it hits home. Even Richard, perhaps a cardboard cutout villain, showed his humanity at the end by feeling love (who knew?!)- although perhaps it was self-pity which caused his ending (who knows?!). But it is Iris's character which interests me the most. So weak, yet towards the end- strong. Thoughtless and cruel to Laura, she loved her perhaps more than anyone. Who knows why she did what she did, though I could reflect on it all day. As you can probably tell, this book has me obsessed.
A review isn't complete without some kind of criticism, though I struggle to find it. I am biased, because I love this book wholeheartedly, though I understand not everyone will be the same. Perhaps it is overly long, and perhaps Atwood can be criticised as a cold writer. You don't see many tears at death, and there is no sentimentality. But I believe this comes from what is not said, and from what Atwood doesn't reveal- her characters do feel, but she does not feel the urge to have them spilling their guts and laying it all out on the table. This is left entirely up to the reader's interpretation.
All in all, for me The Blind Assassin will leave me thinking for a lot longer than it took to finish reading almost 650 pages. It is, in my mind, a masterpiece. ...more
ADORED this book. What a page-turner, and tragically sad. The plot is beautiful and moving, and although I read it a long time ago, it stays with me sADORED this book. What a page-turner, and tragically sad. The plot is beautiful and moving, and although I read it a long time ago, it stays with me still. ...more
Literary gold... what can I say, this book is one of the best I have ever read. When I first started reading this, aged about 13, I didn't like it; ILiterary gold... what can I say, this book is one of the best I have ever read. When I first started reading this, aged about 13, I didn't like it; I found it hard going and complicated with lots of strange names. Thankfully I stuck with it because soon after I became hooked. The action! The fighting armoured polar bears! Iorek=amazing! The dark, mysterious Lord Asriel! The shock as the repulsive secret is revealed (I remember actually shuddering with disgust at what the Gobblers actually do). If you've seen the film and thought of it as kiddyish, then don't assume the book is the same. Although the film was enjoyable, I was disappointed in it, because it made it much more PG13 as you Americans say. All cute daemons anda fairytale feel. The book is gritty, scary, extremely adult. Read it!...more
Child 44 is the tale of Leo Demidov, a top official working under Stalin's Russian Soviet regime in the 1950s. All is well in his career, until the daChild 44 is the tale of Leo Demidov, a top official working under Stalin's Russian Soviet regime in the 1950s. All is well in his career, until the day the body of a murdered child is found on the railway tracks- and Leo is asked to cover it up...
This is literally the best book I've read all year. Absolutely phenomenal. I couldn't put it down. I don't usually wax this lyrical about a book, but until this book I had never really read crime, and this got me into it big-time. You see, after reading about its time-scale- 1950s Russia- I thought it would be dull and too wordy. I couldn't have been more wrong.
The writing is brilliant- easy to read and descriptive. It reads fluently and the plot is revealed in little chunks, until the final shocker at the end. I won't reveal what happens, but a few pages before the revelation I had worked it out- though once the twist is revealed, you'll wonder why you hadn't figured it out before.
Although the story can be a little gruesome, it was nothing I couldn't cope with. I recommended this to my mother, who loved it, and my grandmother, who said it was "too gory for her but good nonetheless".
The best thing I would have to say is the plot. It has a unique story, and it captures the oppression and tyranny of Stalin's regime perfectly. ...more
Absolutely adored this book. Love his writing style, loved the plot, loved the doctor! I thought the controversial subject matter was portrayed very wAbsolutely adored this book. Love his writing style, loved the plot, loved the doctor! I thought the controversial subject matter was portrayed very well. I shall read more!...more
Matilda... well what can I say. This is embarrassing but... I AM Matilda. At least I was, when, aged eight, I read ten library books a week and was obMatilda... well what can I say. This is embarrassing but... I AM Matilda. At least I was, when, aged eight, I read ten library books a week and was obsessed with every single book I could get my hands on. I adored Roald Dahl, and I adored this book.
Roald Dahl has got a brilliant, unique voice which I think most adults (in my experience) just don't get, but kids naturally love and understand. His stories are full of relatable charaters but magic, wonder, gooey gross stuff (kids love that) and tales of triumph over adversity- Matilda to name one, George's Marvellous Medicine to name another.
She's such a wonderful character: a miserable home life (let's face it, you probably hate your parents at that age too, so you can relate), a passion for books, and a unique magical gift which makes you think- well if I AM Matilda, I must have it too! C'mon, admit it: how many people here tried to move stuff with their eyes after reading this book? I have to admit I tried it all the time and remember going to my Mum, "Mum I think it moved a little bit just then!" Alas, it was never to be.
This book will forever be cemented in my memory as a beautiful childhood book, which makes me nostalgic for the times I read it 3/4 times one after the other. They just don't make them like this anymore.... ...more
Love love LOVE this book! My favourite character was definitely the strong-willed, fabulous Jo- a character I could relate to for her love of writingLove love LOVE this book! My favourite character was definitely the strong-willed, fabulous Jo- a character I could relate to for her love of writing and stories. She was also bossy and moody, both of which I am!
As you will probably already know, Little Women is the story of four sisters- Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy- which takes place during the Civil War and they are at home with Marmee (as they say) whilst their Pa goes off to fight. Meg, the eldest, likes the idea of marriage and looks set to be the perfect housewife; Jo says she will never marry and loves being independant; then there's sickly Beth who is lovely natured and always optimistic despite being in fragile health- and then there is Amy. Spoilt, temperamental Amy, who often clashes with Jo.
The story is their love affairs, their arguements, their tears- and demonstrates loss, courage, and generosity, through showing the shocking amount of poverty at the time. I have read all four in the series and still fill up when I think of the moment when a certain character dies.
The novel could be accused of being sugar-coated and overly-sweet, but I think its style reflects the girls' innocence. I think, although some serious issues are ignored or not represented (such as the soldiers dying while they worry about their gowns), I think this is in fact accurate of how teen girls are.