Monday, January 16, 2012

The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood (2000)

Reviewer: BeezusKiddo

Rating: 5 pierogi

Review: I loved this book.


The Handmaid's Tale is one of my favorite books ever, and Oryx and Crake was fantastic as well. As far as I'm concerned, Margaret Atwood can do no wrong (and she and I share a birthday!)

The Blind Assassin is not one of Atwood's dystopic novels, it does have a brief sci-fi component to it, but it's more concerned with families, relationships, and interpersonal conflicts.

The Blind Assassin follows two sisters-- Laura and Iris-- through their pampered childhood as daughters of a button empire, through the market crash and dissolution of their fortune, through Laura's tragic suicide, and Iris' slow decline into old age.

I didn't much notice it before someone pointed it out to me, but Atwood weighs heavy on description. Not visual description, but description through metaphor, which is gripping and effective. For example, in reflecting on the sisters' relationship, Iris explains:

I no longer knew how Laura would have answered these questions. She had become unknown to me, as unknown as the inside of your own glove is unknown when your hand is inside it. She was with me all the time, but I couldn't look at her. I could only feel the shape of her presence: a hollow shape, filled with my own imaginings.


Description-heavy passages by other authors would slow the novel's pace down, and might even become distracting. That is not the case with Atwood's style. Her novels are engaging and move at a smooth pace.

There isn't anything specific about the plot that drew me in. With The Handmaid's Tale, I was entranced and terrified by Atwood's projection of the future. The Blind Assassin's plot is not nearly as gripping, but it is easy to become invested in the protagonists. Atwood's use of language is such a joy to read, that she could probably write about the grass growing and I'd be thrilled to read it.


  1. I've been meaning to read Atwood for years. Your review has motivated me, I'll add it to my already ridiculously long reading goals for 2011.

  2. Replies
    1. I'll give you The Blind Assassin (I generally get rid of books once I have finished them, I have nowhere to put them). The Handmaid's Tale, though, is the absolute best.