Friday, October 10, 2008

The Blind Assassin

Since Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin took me half of October to read, I'm doubly glad at what an an amazing experience reading it was. I wouldn't leave out a single bit of this lengthy book; it should really become a classic, I do wonder whether it will stand the test of time...

On the novel's first page, we find out from Iris that her sister Laura drove a car of a bridge ten days after the war ended. Over the following 600+ pages, we discover Iris' story and Laura's story - how they grew up between the wars and how their relationship changed over the years. Their stories include many examples of what love can do to people - and how a sense of family duty isn't always the right path to follow.

The story is in fact two stories intertwined, each revealing a different side of events. I liked how information was communicated to the reader through various means, including the two stories, various letters and excerpts from newspaper articles. The technique added to a sense of action.

But what makes the book so beautiful is more than technique and more than Atwood's incredible use of the English language. The book is haunting because the emotions are so raw and yet so removed... whatever they are they cerftainly stay with the reader.

I'm always a sucker for history as well so I enjoyed the historical aspect too - life in Canada between the wars, the rise of communism, the power of capitalism, the ridiculous lives of the very rich, and the tough lives of the very poor. Including all this as background to an already emotionally powerful story makes the book brilliant.

Challenges: 888 Challenge, 10 out of 100 out of 1001, 1% Well-Read Challenge, Chunkster Challenge, Man Booker Challenge, Naming Conventions

5 comments:

Lezlie said...

I've heard this was really good. Great review!

Have a great weekend, Joanna!
Lezlie

Nymeth said...

I have this on some challenge lists too, but I've been putting it off because of the length. I want to get to it next month, though. It's good to hear that it's such a good read!

Michele said...

Thank you for writing this review! I've had 'The Blind Assassin' sitting on my shelf, unread, for years now. You just provided the incentive I needed to read it. Thanks!

joanna said...

lezlie - sometimes you have to listen to all those people saying a book is great - this one was on my shelf forever and i can't tell you why!

nymeth - it's pretty long and that put me off for a long time too. But it goes really quickly, probably because of the different formats...

michele - hope you enjoy iy! :-)

Amanda said...

Oh I thought this was a good book too. I found some sections to drag a bit but overall a great story. Thanks!