Man Booker Prize, Fiction, 2000
For the past 25 years, Margaret Atwood has written works of striking originality and imagination. In The Blind Assassin, she stretches the limits of her accomplishment as never before, creating a novel that is both entertaining and profoundly serious.
The novel opens with these simple resonant words: "Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge." They are spoken by Iris, whose terse account of her sister's death in 1945 is followed by an inquest report proclaiming the death accidental. But just as you expect to settle into Laura's story, Atwood introduces a novel-within-a-novel. Entitled The Blind Assassin, it is a science fiction story told by two unnamed lovers who meet in dingy backstreet rooms. When you return to Iris, it is through a 1947 newspaper article announcing the discovery of a sailboat carrying the dead body of her husband, a distinguished industrialist.
Told in a style that magnificently captures the colloquialisms of the 1930s and 1940s, The Blind Assassin is a richly layered and uniquely rewarding experience. The novel has many threads and a series of events that follow one another at a breathtaking pace. As everything comes together, you will discover that the story Atwood is telling is not only what it seems to be - but is, in fact, much more.
Cover Photograph: Courtesy of © The Advertising Archive, London; ©2000 by O.W. Toad, Ltd.; (P)Random House, Inc. Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, A Division of Random House, Inc.
Book Sense Book of the Year Award Finalist, Adult Fiction, 2001
"Listeners will find themselves piecing together the clues, guessing at truths, but the rewards are to be found in the layering of details and the skill of the storytelling." (AudioFile)
It seemed long at times and I cannot say I casted so much fire the characters, but it is a rich, detailed and, in the end deft novel. And by the end, I did care, wonder how I had missed all the obvious signs, and admire the book.
the quality of the recording was very poor. From the beginning of the book, I had a difficult time listening because of the background noise/static. That noise made it vet y difficult to get through.
No, I did not prefer Margot's performance, however my opinion could be because of the poor recording.
I am a New York musician, a New York native, and a passionate reader of fiction. Audible is helping me fill in some serious literary gaps.
This novel won the Booker Prize, and I can understand why. It has a very compelling narrative arc--it actually juggles three plot lines simultaneously--and Atwood's command of language is dazzling. Her turns of phrase, metaphors, and descriptions catch you off guard with their out-of-kilter clarity. (This is a book you want to quote.) She is able to paint characters of great complexity, to talk about sexual intimacy with frankness, to engage the reader as both storyteller and social historian. I was drawn in from the very beginning and had that delicious "book sadness" when it was over. Given that there is a story within the story, and another story within the subsidiary story, it might have been a less than ideal candidate for audio presentation. But Margot Dionne is one of the finest readers I have encountered yet, on a par with Prunella Scales and Simon Vance. Utterly fluent with the prose, she is able to give each character an immediately recognizable voice--cadence, timbre, accent. She made this multi-faceted book clear at every point. I have read some complaints about the recorded sound. No, it was not done in a quiet digital studio, but I had no issues with the continuity, the occasional background noises (birds chirping quietly at one point), the bit of hiss in the playback. If anything, it suited the material perfectly. This beautiful novel is in the best possible hands. Highly recommended.
I agree with other reviewers that the audio quality was terrible and I was ready to ask for a refund when I was first listening. But then the hissing and whine went away and only returned toward the end. Then the power of this terrific story took hold and I couldn't put it down.
I liked how Ms. Atwood never hides the double agenda -- the story of two lonely girls growing up in the 20s and 30s -- and the story of the rise of fascism. I think it is fascinating how Ms. Atwood conveys what is left unsaid by people at both elite and working class social levels. It is also a lens on misogyny supported by the social order. Even the "good" love story is tinged with a biting portrayal of hate for women and their powerlessness.
Hard to say if it's Laura or Iris.
Faulkner, zombies, pandemics, Hillary Mantel, Linda Barry, Atwood, time travel, and Karr, I'm all over the map.
This novel is a departure from Margaret Atwood's "Oryx and Crake" series. It's set in Canada in the nineteen-teens through the depression and again later in the 1980's. The rise and fall of a Canadian merchant family and their tragedies and triumphs flow beautifully through the seemingly powerless narrator. Atwood manages to get a beautiful and dark sci-fi story in as told between two lovers meeting. Both stories are compelling and heartbreaking. It's a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Was initially turned off by the structure and the slow start, so I put it down and walked away. However I came back to it, listening on my walk to work every morning, and got drawn back into the story. Definitely takes a little while but the narration is great, and the story ends up being one that packs a punch.
the book is in the top 20% of the books i have read. it is slow starting, but picks up
The way Atwood drew me into life in small-town Canada before the Second World War.
The ending. I didn't see it coming.
When Iris finally stands up to Freddie and tells her she shouldn't wear that shade of green because it make a woman her age look bilious.
When Iris described what it would be like if her estranged granddaughter would forgive her and come visit.
Iris is the kind of woman who, if you met in person, would probably not tell you about the details of her life. Two things that make this novel compelling: getting to hear her story before she dies and the way Atwood tells the story. It's not easy to keep track of what's going on, but if you just go with it, it all makes sense in the end.
Probably not, but I may buy the book to facilitate looking up my favorate passages of writing.
The narrator herself, Iris, whose ferocious honesty led me to consider my own life experience with greater honesty (at least, I hope so).
No. This is the first time I've listened to her, but I will be on the look out for more. I think she did a superb job.
Who would enjoy this book more? Good question. I invited my mother to listen to it. She's in the same stage of life as the protagonist and from the same era. She hated it.
The book is introduced as a selection for children. Is that possible? What child would listen to an old woman reminiscences? What child could follow the syncopated threads of this story?
I haven't a clue
The characters were well differentiated -- the protagonist and her sister, especially. And also the protagonist and her husband's family.
The depiction of the era is completely believable. I actually enjoy that very much.
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