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May 2020: Other Books > [Poll Ballot] The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood - 5 stars

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Joy D | 3051 comments The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood - 5 stars - My Review

The Blind Assassin is, quite simply, one of the best books I have ever read. It is a matryoshka doll of stories. At first, I was wondering what the stories had to do with one another, but it soon becomes obvious that they are multi-layered and interrelated.

Protagonist Iris is writing her memoir in 1999, looking back on events that took place during the 1930’s and 1940’s. News articles are inserted periodically to provide an exterior perspective. It is a story of Iris and her younger sister, Laura, who grow up in a privileged family. The patriarch experiences setbacks due to the Great Depression, and needs an infusion of cash, so he arranges a marriage between Iris and a wealthy industrialist. The sisters meet a working-class labor activist, who is blamed for an incendiary incident.

A science fiction story, told by a man to his lover, is interwoven into the memoir, along with a narrative of what is going on in Iris’s life in the present. The narrative requires the reader’s active engagement, constantly thinking and evaluating, fitting the puzzle pieces together, until the full picture emerges at the end.

Though a structural device is employed, there are multiple strong storylines supporting it. Atwood does not just add an artificial structure for its own sake. As the story progresses, various clues are revealed. The reader’s interpretation of these clues changes the meaning of events that came before. It is Margaret Atwood at her finest. Just brilliant!

Jgrace | 2710 comments I've read a lot of Margaret Atwood in the past 10 years. So far, I think this is her masterpiece. It's very dense, not an easy read, so it gets a lot of criticism for being obscure and too slow. But, you're right. It's brilliant and worth the effort.

message 3: by Joy D (last edited May 18, 2020 09:00AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joy D | 3051 comments It's not a quick read, but I'm not looking for quick. I'm more about quality and craftsmanship, and The Blind Assassin fits both. I've read quite a few by Atwood. A couple years ago she was my "author of the year" to read books in her back catalogue. These are the others I have read:

- Cat's Eye - 5 stars - My Review
- The Handmaid's Tale - 5 stars - My Review
- The Testaments by Margaret Atwood - 5 stars - My Review
- Oryx and Crake - 4 stars - My Review
- Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold - 4 stars - My Review
- Alias Grace - 3 stars - My Review
- Surfacing - 2 stars - My Review

Susie | 4488 comments This book was an amazing accomplishment. I think it’s her best book in terms of its ability to showcase how skilled a writer she is.

Hilde (hilded) | 358 comments I really enjoyed this one as well, and have been meaning to read 'The Handmaid's Tale' for ages. And now I finally have, just finished it a couple of days ago thinking I already knew all about it having watched the show, but it was amazing, couldn't put it down!

Joy D | 3051 comments Glad you both enjoyed it Susie and Hilde! I agree it's among her best. I am going to continue reading her back catalogue. Can't believe it's taken me this long to get to them.

Hilde, I've not seen any of the shows for The Handmaid's Tale, but I was extremely impressed with the book, especially since it was published in 1985.

Susie, I agree and was glad to see this book won the Booker Prize in 2000.

Robin P | 1347 comments I think my favorites are Cat's Eye, The Robber Bride and The Handmaid's Tale. I read all of those with book groups. I read The Blind Assassin on my own, and while I thought it was good, I don't remember much of it. Shows how valuable it is to discuss a book as well as read it.

Joy D | 3051 comments Robin, I am going to put The Robber Bride on my TBR. I agree, it's always nice to discuss books, and this one would be a good one for a book club.

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