The Blind Assassin

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The Blind Assassin

by Margaret Atwood

McClelland & Stewart | September 6, 2011 | Trade Paperback

The Blind Assassin is rated 3.875 out of 5 by 24.
“Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.” These words are spoken by Iris Chase Griffen, married at eighteen to a wealthy industrialist but now poor and eighty-two. Iris recalls her far from exemplary life, and the events leading up to her sister’s death, gradually revealing the carefully guarded Chase family secrets. Among these is “The Blind Assassin,” a novel that earned the dead Laura Chase not only notoriety but also a devoted cult following. Sexually explicit for its time, it was a pulp fantasy improvised by two unnamed lovers who meet secretly in rented rooms and seedy cafés. As this novel-within-a-novel twists and turns through love and jealousy, self-sacrifice and betrayal, so does the real narrative, as both move closer to war and catastrophe. Margaret Atwood’s Booker Prize-winning sensation combines elements of gothic drama, romantic suspense, and science fiction fantasy in a spellbinding tale.


From the Hardcover edition.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 656 pages, 8 × 5.18 × 1.75 in

Published: September 6, 2011

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0771008910

ISBN - 13: 9780771008917

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 1 out of 5 by from Over Typical Atwood, over-written. over-long, over-done and most of all overrated. A skillfully writer but an awful storyteller.
Date published: 2010-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant “Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.” These words are spoken by Iris Chase Griffen, married at eighteen to a wealthy industrialist but now poor and eighty-two. Iris recalls her far from exemplary life, and the events leading up to her sister’s death, gradually revealing the carefully guarded Chase family secrets. Among these is “The Blind Assassin,” a novel that earned the dead Laura Chase not only notoriety but also a devoted cult following. Sexually explicit for its time, it was a pulp fantasy improvised by two unnamed lovers who meet secretly in rented rooms and seedy cafés. As this novel-within-a-novel twists and turns through love and jealousy, self-sacrifice and betrayal, so does the real narrative, as both move closer to war and catastrophe. Margaret Atwood’s Booker Prize-winning sensation combines elements of gothic drama, romantic suspense, and science fiction fantasy in a spellbinding tale. From the Hardcover edition." I have not seen a story as well constructed as this one. What an amazing story teller Atwood is. What a great read. This book is a novel within a novel within a novel within a novel. Four novels in one. Sounds confusing? It might be to some people but it was written so well I thought it was brilliant. As heart breaking the story is in some parts it’s really witty in others. I actually chuckled a bunch of times. No wonder it won a booker prize, it makes you want to quote it a lot. It’s going on my favorites book list.
Date published: 2009-12-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 10 days after the war my sister Laura drove her car off a bridge This is very difficult what I am about to do. I really want to plug this book,so other people will pick it up and love it too. I don't know how to categorize it,much less what to put in this review. Here goes nothing. When I first saw this book a few years ago in Wal-Mart, I immediately wrote it off as "chick lit." Mostly, because of the flapper girl on the cover. Then about a month ago, I saw her again looking at me straight in the eye, at the library. So I gave her another chance. As as I read the first sentence which is the title for my review, I realized I had stumbled into something special. The book is divided into two stories, a science fiction/love story & and a sprawling epic. The first story is told by an 83 year old woman, Iris Chase Griffin.She has lived an extraordinary life like marrying a business tycoon really young and sailing all around the world with him on the maiden voyage of The Queen Mary cruise liner ship in the thirties. But there also a lot of tragedies that occur in her life as well. She is writing her memoirs for her estranged granddaughter,Sabrina that her drug addicted daughter and evil sister-in-law never let her see. Iris has kept tabs on Sabrina and knows all about her. She also knows with her heart condition this is her final chance to set the records straight for her granddaughter and let her know how special she was to Iris even thought have never really talked. The other story is science fiction/love saga supposedly written by Iris's obnoxious ,irrepressible kid -sister Laura, which was published after she died in a freak car accident. The novel was called "The Blind Assassin". It is about these two unnamed lovers, that meet in secret and drink, make love and tell goofy science fiction stories to each other. One of them ties in perfectly with Iris's story on many levels, and other one is a really silly comic book one about alien women who grow on trees and laugh and agree with whatever the men say, and satisfy every desire they want every minute of the day. But soon the men realize that this gets kind of boring after a while. The Blind Assassin was my favorite part because it reminds of me of a graphic novel. I like that the author interspersed the stories together. It kept me craving more information from Iris's true story and the Blind Assassin gave me a break from Iris. She was a decent narrator. But she is a total snob at times, and has this very annoying "victim complex" that she carried around with her into her old age.Also I should tell you,this book will take longer than a few days to finish don't get discouraged,It's a rather large novel. I also listened to it on tape which was great, the lady does the differant character's voices. The one big complaint I have is that there too many characters and things going at the same time and it makes parts of this book extremely hard to shovel through. (The parts where Iris blathers on and on about her entire family tree for at least fifty pages are a good example of what I am talking about)It was instances like this when I wanted to put the book down, but I kept reading it to see what happened in the end and it was rewarding and well worth it.
Date published: 2009-09-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Atwood's Best to Date A simply brilliant novel, one of Atwood's best, and certainly deserving of the Booker. Comfortable with her skill as a writer, Atwood deftly alternates between sections written from different viewpoints and tenses, creating at first what seem to be disparate stories but which, of course, come together in a tense, sometimes humorous, often oppressive, and always insightful tale of relationships, love, betrayal and atonement. Certainly The Blind Assassin should be required reading for any adult.
Date published: 2009-06-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of Atwood's finest It took me 3 months to read the first third of the book and then a week to devour the rest of it. The start is slow, but the historical details are vibrant, and Atwood is especially good at voicing the views of a grumpy old lady. The story (which is so much more than just the plot) unfolds slowly, with elegance and subtle hints, jumping back and forth in time, but never loosing the actual thread of things. The back cover explains the gist of the plot, and if you've read any other Atwood novels, you know she's a master of witty characterization and artful prose. I think this is one of her best protagonists, and is certainly among her finest novels.
Date published: 2008-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Book This is an amazing book. The writing is wonderful, the characters seem so real you feel you know them and you get a real feel for the place and time. I highly recommend this book.
Date published: 2007-11-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not for me This novel is hard to follow, just as you settle into the story the author introduces a novel within the novel, plus a science fiction story and newspaper articles. I found too many layers in this book to have kept me interested, it keeps rambling on with no apparent link at times. I really didn't like it , my mind kept on wandering I couldn't finished it fast enough.
Date published: 2007-11-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from So boring ... To be honest, I couldn't finish this book. It was too boring. I got to page 200 I think, and when I found myself skimming the pages, it was time to put the book away for good...This was my first Margaret Atwood book and before reading it, most people I talked to about her books said they were boring, long, and weird. I also heard that she is one of the best living writers of fiction we have and that her books are classics. So I gave her a chance...I don't know, maybe her other books are better than this one.
Date published: 2007-02-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Pleasant Challenge I kept thinking I had read this, but really I think I was thinking of Alias Grace. In any case, I'm glad I have now. It took me a little while to get into it, but overall, I love the literary conceit of mise en abime, and the more levels one can work into a novel, the better, I think. And there are three levels here, or four, really, one sort of only referred to in passing, perhaps. But it's an engaging portrait of an era, captured through lush descriptions of manner and dress, as well as the heartbreak of misplaced love and lust - for persons, for money, for whatever. The characters are the beautifully flawed but entirely likeable sort Atwood favours, except for her villans, who are not so much portrayed as vile as dismissed. And a bittersweet ending, like life, instead of books. Well worth its place on all those lists of bests.
Date published: 2006-07-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from The Blind Assassin Weaving in and out of past, present, newspaper articles, and a book within a book, this novel is confusing and rather dull. There just doesn't seem to be any point to this constantly shifting narrative and in the end, I just didn't care what happened to the characters since they were rather unlikable. Don't bother.
Date published: 2005-05-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Blind Assassin Quiet a captivating novel. You feel as though you are Iris and feel so helpless. Sad for these two girls whom grew up lost.
Date published: 2004-09-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Southern Ontario Gothic This book is from an author at the top of her game. Lyrical, magical, full of ideas and insights, it breathes life into a time that we can only imagine, and is something of a Gothic novel that works by being true to the conservatism that pervades much of small town Southern Ontario. I loved this book. I have read it three times now and have not failed to find something new contained in each read. My highest recommendation!
Date published: 2003-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Blind Assassin After reading the book entitled The Blind Assassin , I have found that it is extremely important to pay attention to all the details. Margaret Atwood's Book was extremely well done. It takes the reader to a whole new level of reading. Every page is a new twist of adventure. It keeps you intrigued all the way through. You always need to pay close attention to what is going on, because the book switches from character to character quite quickly. Margaret Atwood has portrayed all the characters in her book exceptionally well. In other words, she has made them all come alive. You really get to know each and every one,you learn about their faults, as well as their good qualities. The Blind Assassin really shows how important it is to have a family, and it shows the effect of what happens when families are in crises. By the end of the novel, you come to appreciate your family so much more, and you come to realize that it is important to be honest at all times. T
Date published: 2002-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must Read Margaret Atwood has done it again, she has surpassed my expectations of what a novel can be. Her ability to create a vivid and captivating world, while being historically correct is amazing. Not only are the characters, but the settings as well, are described so vividly that when looking at the Royal York Hotel, or standing on the corner of King and Spadina, one almost expects to see Iris there. Atwood's ability to use multiple storylines to ultimately develop Iris is a unique and risky method of character development, that she is able to not only pull off, but leave the reader feeling more connected to Iris than one would think possible. Through the use of the multiple storylines, and the newspaper clippings, Atwood is able to keep the reader's attention by making the reader desire to find the connection between the different parts. As well, this method does not allow for slow parts in the book, but instead keeps the reader's interest. This is definately one of those books that when it is finished, the reader feels completely satisfied.
Date published: 2001-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Refreshing and Unique Margaret Atwood never fails to disappoint. Every one of her novels is a favourite, and this one is no exception. I could not put the book down once I started! It took the first dozen or so pages to understand how the book was structured, and I did need to go back and re-read the first couple of pages again for it to all make sense. What a refreshing and unique style! It keeps you guessing - it's never predictable. I really appreciate Ms Atwood's attempt at trying something different! I can't wait for her next effort!
Date published: 2001-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Readers seem "blind" to this book's charm I can't believe the number of negative comments about this wonderfully engrossing book! I received it for Christmas and was reluctant to start it because I soon had to return to school; however, once I started it, I could not put it down! Atwood's language is decadent, the multi-faceted storylines are thoroughly engaging, and the characters are enigmatic and thought-provoking. As for the ending, how could anyone be disappointed with it? My only disappointment was that I had to leave the fictional worlds created by all of the authors (Atwood, Iris, and Laura). I must admit that I was not fond of Atwood's work when I was younger; but, as I get older, I appreciate her gift more and more. She is a unique Canadian voice, and I think this novel is one of her best.
Date published: 2001-01-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Too many awards for a disappointing novel I read "The Blind Assisin" soon after its release (and after reading several rave reviews) and was disappointed by its length, characters and overall tone. I found myself agreeing with the negative review that appeared in "New York Times Book Review" in particular the reference to the overabundance of similes. It seemed as though Ms. Atwood tried too hard. The only salvation for the novel is its average ending although it arrives too late to save the story and characters. I am still a fan of Ms. Atwood's previous work (especially "The Robber Bride" and "Alias Grace"). I am also a fan of the Booker Prize and have generally agreed with its recent winners (including "Disgrace" by J.M.Coetze and "Amsterdam" by Ian McEwan and "Last Orders" by Graham Swift). I don't agree with this year's jury selection and I'm still surprised that Alistair MacLeod's "No Great Mischief" was overlooked in both Canada and the UK.
Date published: 2000-11-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent book I loved this book!I've read many of her books before I liked this one the best!I couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2000-11-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from telling the blind assassin I have never been keen on reading novels but I was attracted by the title. Getting into it, I never wanted to drop it because I was to anxious on what will happen next. I will say I was never disappointed. It was exciting right from the beginning to the end. May be I will become the author's fan.
Date published: 2000-10-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Blind nominations Although I consider myself to be an Atwood fan on quite a large scale, I was somewhat disappointed by this latest -- and much anticipated -- novel. Although the narrative voice, Iris Chase Griffen, has a refreshingly wiry and unsentimental senior perspective, she offers us very little in terms of insight. It becomes, at times, difficult to distinguish the "real" characters from the campy ones in the novel, Blind Assassin. One thing that Atwood does continue to excel at, though, is her ability to make us keenly aware that we are seeing the world through a biased eye. Although the central focus of the story is Laura, we never find out what she thinks - except if we are able to search for clues in her cult publication. This "silent centre" is classic Atwood, best displayed in her previous book, the Robber Bride, which I found much more engaging, shocking and thought provoking. Although I do still consider Atwood to be one of Canada's finest writers, I fear that this book's nominations are a product of her well-promoted name, and not necessarily the work itself.
Date published: 2000-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Atwood never fails to challenge Line up her last five or six books and you have to agree: Margaret Atwood never takes takes the same route twice in examining complex issues such as the relationship between men and women; between victim and victimizer; between innocence and experience; between nature and nurture. From the hapless heroines in Bodily Harm and Handmaid's Tale, to the more sly types in Cat's Eye and the Robber Bride, Atwood creates complex characters with the power to drive fascinating narrative. In The Blind Assassin, these characters and diametric issues take on new depth and richness in a story-within-a-story-within-a-story, each of which resonates with archetypal Canadian experience and imagery. Throw in Atwood's trademark drole commentary on the Torontonian WASP, and The Blind Assassin is a vibrant, challenging and delightful read.
Date published: 2000-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Story Within a Story Fascinates Atwood has always been one of my favourite writers, and this book is no exception. She spins off similes as engaging as the stories themselves; there are three entangled storylines. I bought this as soon as I saw it, and I was spellbound by each word. Not a single paragraph lagged.
Date published: 2000-09-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Unexpectedly disappointing I am struggling to finish this book and wish it wasn't so as I have enjoyed many of Margaret Atwood's previous novels. The story-within-a-story concept does not work: the two just don't gel. The mood and characters are relentlessly dark, everything is over-explicated and the story is not compelling me to read on. Finishing this is going to require an act of will...
Date published: 2000-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Margaret Atwood's Superb Character Development After discovering my copy of "The Blind Assassin" in my mailbox, I torn into the box and began to read. I put the book down only after completing 180 pages! Atwood's fascinating characters compel the reader to turn page after page. Expect to see this one shortlisted for the Giller!
Date published: 2000-08-28

– More About This Product –

The Blind Assassin

The Blind Assassin

by Margaret Atwood

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 656 pages, 8 × 5.18 × 1.75 in

Published: September 6, 2011

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0771008910

ISBN - 13: 9780771008917

Read from the Book

The BridgeTen days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge. The bridge was being repaired: she went right through the Danger sign. The car fell a hundred feet into the ravine, smashing through the treetops feathery with new leaves, then burst into flames and rolled down into the shallow creek at the bottom. Chunks of the bridge fell on top of it. Nothing much was left of her but charred smithereens.I was informed of the accident by a policeman: the car was mine, and they'd traced the licence. His tone was respectful: no doubt he recognized Richard's name. He said the tires may have caught on a streetcar track or the brakes may have failed, but he also felt bound to inform me that two witnesses—a retired lawyer and a bank teller, dependable people—had claimed to have seen the whole thing. They'd said Laura had turned the car sharply and deliberately, and had plunged off the bridge with no more fuss than stepping off a curb. They'd noticed her hands on the wheel because of the white gloves she'd been wearing.It wasn't the brakes, I thought. She had her reasons. Not that they were ever the same as anybody else's reasons. She was completely ruthless in that way."I suppose you want someone to identify her," I said. "I'll come down as soon as I can." I could hear the calmness of my own voice, as if from a distance. In reality I could barely get the words out; my mouth was numb, my entire face was rigid with pain. I felt as if I'd been to the dentist. I was fur
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From the Publisher

“Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.” These words are spoken by Iris Chase Griffen, married at eighteen to a wealthy industrialist but now poor and eighty-two. Iris recalls her far from exemplary life, and the events leading up to her sister’s death, gradually revealing the carefully guarded Chase family secrets. Among these is “The Blind Assassin,” a novel that earned the dead Laura Chase not only notoriety but also a devoted cult following. Sexually explicit for its time, it was a pulp fantasy improvised by two unnamed lovers who meet secretly in rented rooms and seedy cafés. As this novel-within-a-novel twists and turns through love and jealousy, self-sacrifice and betrayal, so does the real narrative, as both move closer to war and catastrophe. Margaret Atwood’s Booker Prize-winning sensation combines elements of gothic drama, romantic suspense, and science fiction fantasy in a spellbinding tale.


From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than forty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction, but is best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1969), The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. A book of short stories called Stone Mattress: Nine Tales was published in 2014. Her novel, MaddAddam (2013), is the final volume in a three-book series that began with the Man-Booker prize-nominated Oryx and Crake (2003) and continued with The Year of the Flood (2009). The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short fiction) both appeared in 2006. A volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination, a collection of non-fiction essays appeared in 2011. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth was adapted for the screen in 2012. Ms. Atwood’s work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian.
Margaret Atwood lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.
www.margaretatwood.ca

Editorial Reviews

“Brilliant.... Opulent.... Atwood is a poet...as well as a contriver of fiction, and scarcely a sentence of her quick, dry yet avid prose fails to do useful work, adding to a picture that becomes enormous.”
John Updike, The New Yorker

 "The kind of story so full of intrigue and desperation that you take it to bed with you simply because you can't bear to put it down.... It's one thing to write an accomplished novel; it's another entirely to spin a tale so brilliantly that the reader internalizes it." Harper's Bazaar

“Absorbing.... Expertly rendered.... Virtuosic storytelling is on display.” The New York Times