The Blind Assassin

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After a slow start, I really got into this Margaret Atwood novel, a novel within a novel within a novel.

It’s very different to any of the other Atwood works that I’ve read so far; this novel is firmly rooted in reality (although the embedded novel “The Blind Assassin” allows Atwood to give sci-fi a go, there’s no sign of the dystopia or concern for the environment that were so marked in The Year of the Flood, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Oryx and Crake.  That said, the format allows the fate of women to be explored effectively.

I’ve seen the novel referred to as historical fiction somewhere (I think on Shelfari elsewhere), but that’s a definite misnomer in this case.  True, the novel uses the device of the main character, Iris, writing her own history for her grandchild, and traces some of the history of Canada from the First World War to the 1990s, when the old woman intermingles the domestic fears of old age with memory of a youth when, motherless, she was essentially “sacrificed” in marriage to save her father’s business during the Depression.  Her husband and his sister are despicably superficial and socially aware bullies from whom she manages to escape with her dead sister’s novel to sustain her.

“Fact” and “fiction” intermingle and it’s clear that the “history” we are presented with is by no means accurate or “true” and truth is only revealed near the end of the novel, although an astute reader will largely have guessed the real story that is hidden in the Chase novel, and be silently championing the love affair and its consequences at the heart of both novels.

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One thought on “The Blind Assassin

  1. Have you read Alias Grace, Marilyn? Truly a historical novel, but a great one, and my favourite of Atwood’s recent work. I liked The Blind Assassin, but I LOVED Alias Grace. 😉

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