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The Blind Assassin
ISBN 0771008635 / 9780771008634 / 0-7710-0863-5
Publisher McClelland & Stewart Ltd
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"It's loss and regret and misery and yearning that drive the story forward," writes Margaret Atwood, towards the end of her impressive and complex new novel, The Blind Assassin. It's a melancholic account of why writers write--and readers read--and one that frames the different lives told through this book. The Blind Assassin is (at least) two novels. At the end of her life, Iris Griffen takes up her pen to record the secret history of her family, the romantic melodrama of its decline and fall between the two World Wars. Conjuring a world of prosperity and misery, marriage and loneliness, the central enigma of Iris's tale is the death of her sister, Laura Chase, who "drove a car off a bridge" at the end of the Second World War. Suicide or accident? The story gradually unfolds, interspersed with sketches of Iris's present-day life--confined by age and ill-health--and a second novel, The Blind Assassin by Laura Chase. Allowing a glimpse into a clandestine love affair between a privileged young woman and a radical "agitator" on the run, this version of The Blind Assassin is an overt act of seduction: the exchange of sex and story about an imaginary world of Sakiel-Norn (a play with the potential, and convention, of fantasy and sci-fi).
With the intelligence, subtlety and remarkable characterisation associated with Atwood's writing (from her first novel, The Edible Woman through to the best-selling Alias Grace), these two stories play with one another--sustaining an uncertainty about who has done what to who and why to the very end of this compelling book. --Vicky Lebeau [via]