HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
Loading...

Blind Assassin (original 2000; edition 2001)

by Margaret Atwood

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,433311197 (3.94)923
Member:andrewcardus
Title:Blind Assassin
Authors:Margaret Atwood
Info:Virago (2001), Paperback, 656 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:None

Work details

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (2000)

Recently added byprivate library, KnivesBoone, lefaulkenberry, Caroline.B, -Silje-, MikeAWalters, xicohtli, Lynora
  1. 182
    Atonement by Ian McEwan (browner56)
    browner56: Two superbly crafted explorations of the cathartic power that comes from the act of writing.
  2. 51
    The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry (rbtanger)
  3. 41
    Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson (Smiler69)
  4. 41
    To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (the_awesome_opossum)
  5. 10
    Stella Descending by Linn Ullmann (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Laura Chase in The Blind Assassin falls to her death from a bridge over a ravine, just as Stella falls to hers from a roof. The Blind Assassin is concerned with finding out why Laura fell, with newspaper reports given, excerpts from a novel quoted, and passages of narration from Laura's sister -- all out of chronological sequence; just as the cause of Stella's fall is sought through Ullmann's novel by a variety of narrators, with excerpts from a video, all simililarly out of chronological order. Both Stella and Laura act as nurses, and fall prey to unprincipled men. Both novels include a pair of sisters whose mother dies when they are young, leaving the elder girl to take care of the younger; children with absent or unknown fathers; and someone very old, near to their own death, who loved Laura/Stella. Laura's sister fancies, `there was no floor to my room: I was suspended in the air, about to plummet. My fall would be endless -- endlessly down'. Stella's daughter tells her sister, `Mama fell off a roof, Mama's falling still. She falls and falls and never hits the ground'.… (more)
  6. 10
    A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth L. Ozeki (sturlington)
    sturlington: Writers and books within books.
  7. 10
    The Pursuit of Happiness by Douglas Kennedy (Pedrolina)
  8. 21
    The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell (rbtanger)
  9. 22
    Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald (jhedlund, djmccord73)
    djmccord73: family history, secrets
  10. 00
    Glass Mountain by Cynthia Voigt (electronicmemory)
    electronicmemory: Two books that are slow, close character studies of our protagonists. They both have lovely prose, vivid imagery and nuance.
  11. 23
    The History of Love: A Novel by Nicole Krauss (PrincessPaulina)
    PrincessPaulina: Main characters are seniors, reexamining their biographies at the end of their lives.
  12. 78
    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Anonymous user)
  13. 01
    Autumn Laing by Alex Miller (jll1976)
    jll1976: Similar themes and style. Also a 'death bed confessional'.
  14. 35
    Love in The Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez (electronicmemory)
    electronicmemory: Historical settings come alive in these novels about the complexities of life among close-knit high society social circles.
  15. 02
    My Life as a Fake by Peter Carey (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: Deception is layered on deception until even the truth looks false.
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 923 mentions

English (307)  Norwegian (1)  Spanish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (312)
Showing 1-5 of 307 (next | show all)
Atwood is a remarkable writer. I enjoyed every written word. The plot is slow developing, so one really needs to stick with it to enjoy it, but it is all worth it in the end. It comes together beautifully and if I was only at 3/5 midway through, I was at 5/5 by the last page. This being my second Atwood novel (the first being A Handmaid's Tale, which I loved!), I'll be looking for more from her. ( )
  bpeters65 | Jul 16, 2016 |
Odi et amo – I hate and I love. Catullus’s famous paradox was not meant to describe books, but it neatly sums up my reaction to Margaret Atwood’s pluri-prizewinning novel “The Blind Assassin”...

The 20th century is coming to an end and Iris Chase, now in her eighties, knows that her days are numbered too. She decides to write her memoirs for the benefit of her estranged granddaughter Sabrina. Her tale starts chillingly: "Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge." Having given us a glimpse of her tale’s dark ending, Iris takes us back to the Chase siblings’ protected childhood in the (fictional) Southern Ontario town of Port Ticonderoga, where their father is a respected factory owner. The business goes through a hard time and is bought out by the Griffen family, whose upcoming scion Richard Griffen eventually marries Iris. It is an unhappy match which holds within it the seeds of tragedy.

Iris’s recollections form the main narrative strand of the novel and, set as they are in the unsettled decades between the two World Wars, they give the book the feel of a historical novel or a family saga, rendered more authentic through references to actual events. This being Atwood however, the structure of the novel soon becomes increasingly complex. We learn that Laura Chase has become a literary sensation thanks to her posthumously published roman-a-clef “The Blind Assassin”, extracts of which are interspered with Iris’s story. Laura’s novel is apparently autobiographical, chronicling her love affair with one Alex Thomas, a Communist-leaning writer of pulp fiction. As if this novel-within-a-novel were not enough, Alex spices up the lovers’ encounters with storytelling, which spawns a third narrative strand – a quasi-scifi tale about the exploits of a “blind assassin” in the fantastical Planet Zycron. The Baboushka-dolls structure underlines this (meta-)novel’s obsession with the blurred boundaries between fact and fiction, reality and fantasy, truth and deceit.

Atwood’s novel has been described as a postmodernist masterpiece and I have little hesitation in agreeing with this appraisal. Its potentially convoluted structure is deftly handled, leading to an effective climax in the final chapters. The dialogue and narrative voice are perfectly pitched and hardly a page goes by without the reader chancing upon an arresting image, observation or turn-of-phrase. Yet, I often found myself viscerally hating the novel and it took me a real effort to finish it. Why?

I think that it’s mostly down to the novel’s or, to be exact, Iris’s worldview. Her bitterness poisons all the characters, who invariably come across as scheming, manipulative and cruel or, at best, short-sighted and naive. Even Laura, who has little time for material trappings and is one of the more “spiritual” figures in the book, has the nasty habit of entering into “pacts” with God. Which, it must be said, He consistently breaks.

Indeed, the novel’s world is one in which everything is subject to negotiation and everything is up for sale. This applies particularly to the women who, like the bosomy figures in Alex Thomas’s pulp stories, are merely chattel in a male-dominated society.

Yes, I know – Atwood is making a very valid point here. And, yes, I do appreciate that sometimes an argument needs to be strongly (and unsubtly?) presented for it to strike home. And I know as well that one should not mistake a character’s point of view with that of the novel and still less with that of the author.

But the fact remains that I found the novel’s bleakness suffocating, its dark humour and glinting brilliance merely rubbing salt into this reader’s wounds. At the risk of sounding like an Eastenders fan who rants at the actor playing the baddie, I’ll give a miserly two stars to this dazzling novel which I hated ... and loved. ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Jul 15, 2016 |
The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
5 stars

The aged, dying Iris Chase Griffen is writing a rambling memoir for her absent granddaughter. Her narrative is broken up with excerpts from a novel called The Blind Assassin, newspaper clippings and the occasional private letter. Gradually, all of these bits and pieces tell the squalid, tragic history of the Chase sisters. Very, very gradually; this is a slow moving story.
Iris was born before the end of world War One. In the course of her story, she relates how the great events of the 20th century affected the economy of her Canadian home town, and how those economic changes further restricted the future available to her. The excerpted novel is the story of an illicit love affair which itself includes the elaborate development of a pulp sci-fi novel. None of the details in any of these bits and pieces is accidental. Buried in the lurid descriptions of the crass sci-fi thriller are the roots of two ruined lives.

I’m very impressed with the complexity of Atwood’s writing. I feel that my brain has been well exercised. On the other hand, I feel a bit as if I’ve been hit over the head too many times. I get it, I get it! Women had few choices. Their lives were restricted. They were used and abused. It’s a very grim story. It’s satisfying that Iris finds a voice and to a certain degree gets her revenge. Although, Iris doesn’t seem to take any great satisfaction in this triumph. For me the best parts of the book were Iris’ pithy, apt commentary on aging and contemporary culture.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
Chapters are puzzle pieces... As u finish reading each u think that "yes, i understood this" , but when u read next , u doubt ur previous assumption. Till the last chapters u wont know the whole story and may be even after u finish it, u will still have a vague idea about the ending...
I liked it very much :) ( )
  PallaviSharma | May 9, 2016 |
I am a fan of Ms. Atwood. Usually, that is. I did not enjoy this book at all. I struggled to make it halfway and finally put it aside. It's just too slow and boring. I love the story-within a story idea but... ( )
  kristina_brooke | Apr 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 307 (next | show all)
Margaret Atwood poses a provocative question in her new novel, "The Blind Assassin." How much are the bad turns of one's life determined by things beyond our control, like sex and class, and how much by personal responsibility? Unlike most folks who raise this question so that they can wag their finger -- she's made her bed, and so on -- Atwood's foray into this moral terrain is complex and surprising. Far from preaching to the converted, Atwood's cunning tale assumes a like-minded reader only so that she can argue, quite persuasively, from the other side.
added by stephmo | editSalon.com, Karen Houppert (Dec 12, 2000)
 
In her tenth novel, Margaret Atwood again demonstrates that she has mastered the art of creating dense, complex fictions from carefully layered narratives, making use of an array of literary devices - flashbacks, multiple time schemes, ambiguous, indeterminate plots - and that she can hook her readers by virtue of her exceptional story-telling skills. The Blind Assassin is not a book that can easily be put to one side, in spite of its length and the fact that its twists and turns occasionally try the patience; yet it falls short of making the emotional impact that its suggestive and slippery plot at times promises.
added by stephmo | editThe Guardian, Alex Clark (Sep 30, 2000)
 
Ms. Atwood's absorbing new novel, ''The Blind Assassin,'' features a story within a story within a story -- a science-fiction yarn within a hard-boiled tale of adultery within a larger narrative about familial love and dissolution. The novel is largely unencumbered by the feminist ideology that weighed down such earlier Atwood novels as ''The Edible Woman'' and ''The Handmaid's Tale,'' and for the most part it is also shorn of those books' satiric social vision. In fact, of all the author's books to date, ''The Blind Assassin'' is most purely a work of entertainment -- an expertly rendered Daphne du Maurieresque tale that showcases Ms. Atwood's narrative powers and her ardent love of the Gothic.
 
In her ingenious new tale of love, rivalry, and deception, The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood interweaves several genres — a confessional memoir, a pulp fantasy novel, newspaper clippings — to tease out the secrets behind the 1945 death of 25-year-old socialite Laura Chase.
 
Nearly 20 years ago, in speaking of her craft, the novelist Margaret Atwood observed that ''a character in a book who is consistently well behaved probably spells disaster for the book.'' She might have asserted the more general principle that consistent anything in a character can prove tedious. If we apply the old Forsterian standard that round characters are ones ''capable of surprising in a convincing way,'' Atwood's new novel, for all its multilayered story-within-a-story-within-a-story construction, must be judged flat as a pancake. In ''The Blind Assassin,'' overlong and badly written, our first impressions of the dramatis personae prove not so much lasting as total.
 

» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Margaret Atwoodprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dionne, MargotNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tarkka, HannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Imagine the monarch Agha Mohammad Khan, who orders the entire population of the city of Kerman murdered or blinded—no exceptions. His praetorians set energetically to work. They line up the inhabitants, slice off the heads of the adults, gouge out the eyes of the children. . . . Later, processions of blinded children leave the city. Some, wandering around in the countryside, lose their way in the desert and die of thirst. Other groups reach inhabited settlements...singing songs about the extermination of the citizens of Kerman. . . .

—Ryszard Kapuściński
I swam, the sea was boundless, I saw no shore.
Tanit was merciless, my prayers were answered.
O you who drown in love, remember me.

— Inscription on a Carthaginian Funerary Urn
The word is a flame burning in a dark glass.

—Sheila Watson
Dedication
First words
Ten 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.
Quotations
Farewells can be shattering, but returns are surely worse. Solid flesh can never live up the bright shadow cast by its absence.
What virtue was once attached to this notion—of going beyond your strength, of not sparing yourself, of ruining your health! Nobody is born with that kind of selflessness: it can be acquired only by the most relentless discipline, a crushing-out of natural inclination, and by my time the knack or secret of it must have been lost.
I'm sorry, I'm just not interested.
Or perhaps she's just softening me up: she's a Baptist, she'd like me to find Jesus, or vice versa, before it's too late. That kind of thing doesn't run in her family: her mother Reenie never went in much for God. There was mutual respect, and if you were in trouble, naturally you'd call on him, as with lawyers, but as with lawyers, it would have to be bad trouble. Otherwise it didn't pay to get too mixed up with him.
She knew the family histories, or at least something about them. What she would tell me varied in relation to my age, and also in relation to how distracted she was at the time. Nevertheless, in this way I collected enough fragments of the past to make a reconstruction of it, which must have borne as much relation to the real thing as a mosaic portrait would to the original. I didn't want realism anyway: I wanted things to be highly coloured, simple in outline, without ambiguity, which is what most children want when it comes to the stories of their parents. They want a postcard.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385720955, Paperback)

The Blind Assassin is a tale of two sisters, one of whom dies under ambiguous circumstances in the opening pages. The survivor, Iris Chase Griffen, initially seems a little cold-blooded about this death in the family. But as Margaret Atwood's most ambitious work unfolds--a tricky process, in fact, with several nested narratives and even an entire novel-within-a-novel--we're reminded of just how complicated the familial game of hide-and-seek can be:
What had she been thinking of as the car sailed off the bridge, then hung suspended in the afternoon sunlight, glinting like a dragonfly, for that one instant of held breath before the plummet? Of Alex, of Richard, of bad faith, of our father and his wreckage; of God, perhaps, and her fatal, triangular bargain.
Meanwhile, Atwood immediately launches into an excerpt from Laura Chase's novel, The Blind Assassin, posthumously published in 1947. In this double-decker concoction, a wealthy woman dabbles in blue-collar passion, even as her lover regales her with a series of science-fictional parables. Complicated? You bet. But the author puts all this variegation to good use, taking expert measure of our capacity for self-delusion and complicity, not to mention desolation. Almost everybody in her sprawling narrative manages to--or prefers to--overlook what's in plain sight. And memory isn't much of a salve either, as Iris points out: "Nothing is more difficult than to understand the dead, I've found; but nothing is more dangerous than to ignore them." Yet Atwood never succumbs to postmodern cynicism, or modish contempt for her characters. On the contrary, she's capable of great tenderness, and as we immerse ourselves in Iris's spliced-in memoir, it's clear that this buttoned-up socialite has been anything but blind to the chaos surrounding her. --Darya Silver

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:47 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Told in the story within a story fashion, the reader learns about the mysterious death of one sister from her surviving sister.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 10 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.94)
0.5 9
1 59
1.5 8
2 152
2.5 42
3 562
3.5 161
4 1200
4.5 204
5 939

Audible.com

7 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 107,632,867 books! | Top bar: Always visible