The Blind Assassin

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The Blind Assassin Fiction
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The novel opens with a sister's discovery of a terse account of her sister's death, but instead of telling this story, Atwood introduces a novel-within-a-novel, entitled The Blind Assassin, a science fiction story improvised bytwo unnamed lovers who meet in dingy backstreet rooms, before returning to the `outer' novel by way of a newspaper article announcing the discovery of a sailboat carrying the dead body of the dead sister's husband, a distinguished industrialist. Winner of the Booker Prize. 521p. Pap.

Editorial Reviews

Atwood's skillfully woven tenth novel is her most ambitious and challenging work to date, and a worthy successor to her recent triumph, Alias Grace (1996).It tells two absorbing stories that cast an initially enigmatic, ultimately pitilessly revealing light on each other. The central one is octogenarian Iris Griffen's bitter reminiscence of her life as the privileged daughter of a prosperous Ontario family, the Chases, and later as wife to Richard Griffen, the businessman who effectively inherits and firmly directs the Chase fortunes. The counterpart story, The Blind Assassin, is a strange futuristic tale that dramatizes in unusual (faux-Oriental) fashion a nameless woman's obsession with a science-fiction writer whose imaginings blithely mirror and exploit his "power" over her. This latter tale is published as the work of Iris's younger sister Laura, whose death in a 1945 automobile accident is judged by all who knew the sisters "as close to suicide as damn is to swearing." Newspaper items reporting notable events in the lives of the Chases and Griffens over a period of more than sixty years further enrich a many-leveled, smartly paced narrative that gradually discloses the nature and root causes of Laura's unconventionality and "madness," the full extent of Richard's compulsive aggrandizement and isolationism, and the price exacted from Iris for the "convenience" of her marriage. Intermittent echoes of Forster's Howards End sound throughout this bleak saga of political, social, and gender conflict. AndAtwood keeps our attention riveted by rendering her increasingly dramatic story in a fluent style distinguished by precise sensory description ("the thin, abstemious rain of early April") and thought-provoking metaphor ("Laura was flint in a nest of thistledown"). Furthermore, a bombshell of a climactic surprise (which we probably should have seen coming) lurks in the stunning final pages.Boldly imagined and brilliantly executed.Book-of-the-Month Club main selection; author tour Copyright 2000 Kirkus Reviews

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