Tuesday, April 27, 2010

CBR Book#39: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

Sometimes when I'm reading, I can feel an invisible wall between myself and the end of the book. I push against it with the words that I read and the pages that I turn, only to feel it become tiring in a way that makes me want to exert myself even more. The ending is so sought after that I have difficulty reading. I want to see the threads joined together. I want to know that I've read what I think I've read. I want to know that I've seen what I should have seen. The Blind Assassin is a book that pushed me in this way.

Atwood has crafted an intriguing story of the lives of sisters Iris and Laura Chase. It is so intriguing that at times it is difficult to tell which sister you are learning about. The ideas about secrets held by the book within a book waver and blur, becoming unsure of themselves while slowing unraveling and contorting as the reader finds themselves immersed. Phrases and words become familiar and bring to mind someone that couldn't really be the female half of the secret lovers. Or could they?

The characters are only described in as much detail as one would have when recalling their life. Those important to Iris are clear and fully-formed. Those that she saw as enemy or as evil are one-dimensional. The flaws of the one-dimensional become full personalities and serve to show them in the light that Iris saw them. This makes the book feel more like a real biography and less like a work of fiction with historical truths interspersed throughout.

This is definitely a book that I would have avoided on my own. The naming of it as the next Pajiba Book Club selection made it worth a try. I'm quite glad that I was able to out aside preconceptions and read this book. I look forward to the discussion of Atwood's work and the insight of other Pajibans.


  1. This was my third time reading it but the first time I definitely had the same reaction. I just kept reading because I wanted to know how everything would come together. I don't know if it's where I'm at in my life or the fact that I am a little bit older now, but I feel like it was even more depressing reading it now than five years ago. I still love the novel but it just seemed like all the characters had so few chances at happiness. Yes, I know, the Peach women but still.

  2. They were all pretty pitiful characters. They had no chance at happiness. The women were traded and married off like cattle and the men were tied to success and public appearance. Really sad!