After being disappointed in Maddaddam I really felt the need to read some of Atwood’s earlier work. I’d been meaning to read this for some time and I figured that this would be a good book to restore my faith in her. And boy did it!
I absolutely loved this book. It was stunning, masterful and all the other adjectives that go in the that general strain. It was interesting how I can see the differences in her writing form her earlier stuff and her Maddaddam series. While both are amazing, they definitely showcase different strengths. Oryx and Crake tended to be more overt and in your face, with just the right amount of subtlety (does anyone else think that’s an oddly spelled word?) to keep you really paying attention so you can catch everything.
The Blind Assassin is a different story. This book thrives on its subtlety (seriously though, that spelling) which is what makes it so beautiful. They only time she actually straightforwardly says what is happening is the very end when everything comes together, however, if you’re paying close attention you can figure most of it out before then; but only if you’re paying close attention.
There are three stories going on in this novel. There is the story that Iris is writing in her old age, there is the novel, The Blind Assassin, and there is the story that the character in the novel The Blind Assassin is telling to his lover. Sounds confusing right? Well, it wasn’t. Atwood did a beautiful job of blending all of these stories together to create one whole cohesive novel. Never once was I confused as what was happening, as the chapters are labeled to tell you what you are reading.
On top of this, there are newspaper articles strewn about the book that connect to the lives of Iris and her family that both reveal certain things about this family as well as examines the political and social climate of the time period. They worked very well as a character building device as well as placing us in the setting of the novel.
This book is a stunning example of the brilliance of Margaret Atwood and totally deserves the award that it won (The Booker Prize). I don’t think I can recommend this book enough, and I think passing this book over would be a grave mistake.
This picture is a testament to how much I loved this book. Every sticky represents either a quote or particularly intriguing section that I felt needed to be noted. This is what Atwood does to me.
“Farewells can be shattering, but returns are surely worse. Solid flesh can never live up to the bright shadow cast by its absence. Time and distance blur the edges; then suddenly the beloved has arrived, and it’s noon with its merciless light, and every spot and pore and wrinkle and bristle stands clear.”
“Romance takes place in the middle distance. Romance is looking in at yourself, through a window clouded with dew. Romance means leaving things out: where life grunts and snuffles, romance only sighs.”
“Nothing is more difficult than to understand the dead, I’ve found; but nothing is more dangerous than to ignore them.”