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.
"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)
I downloaded this book after listening to Oryx and Crake and I have to admit that from the teaser, I too was expecting more of a Sci Fi story. However, what I ended up with was something much richer. To call the novel a romance would not give it its full character. More simply, the book is a fascinating tale of one woman's life spanning from WWI through modern times. As with Oryx and Crake, the characters have great depth and personality and the plot takes a perrilous and often unexpected course. Atwood's background as a poet also shines through in the rich language of the book. After listening to The Blind Assasin, I am planning to get my hands on every one of Margaret Atwood's books!
Inconsistencies in volume, a terribly annoying high-pitched whining pulse that comes in and out, a muffled sound like the actor was too far from the mic, and more. Plus, terrible cuts in and out from chapters. No pausing, sometimes, just words spilling over from one section to the next. TERRIBLE! I never write reviews, but the quality of this recording is SO bad that I felt I owed it to other interested consumers to warn them. Please, read the book in print. Do NOT waste your money or credits on this audio.
I have listened to over 100 audio book productions and this book is by far the very worst engineering I've had the misfortune of hearing. It is not, in fact, the narrator who's to blame, though similar reviews may lead one to this conclusion. These listeners apperantly wouldn't know any better. It is the engineer whose to blame. Overuse of compression and a failure to employ a deesser makes this work virtually unlistenable. A deesser deemphasizes the "s" sound of the human voice and smooths out the harsh and raspy sound that consonant makes through a microphone. Unless the listener is capable of employing severe equalization, i recommend to stay away from this production no matter how much you love Attwood. She's one of my favorite contemporary authors and as much as I would like to finish this book I cannot listen to another second. I purchased the novel and have opted to read it, instead, in peace and quiet as opposed to listening to static and insufferable, piercing, incessant "s" sounds. I'm truly stunned that this audio was released as it was. Random house needs to reengineer this work. I'm sorry Margaret, someone really did you wrong with this one.
As others have pointed out, the audio quality of this audiobook is abysmal. I am a frequent Audible listener, and download only the highest quality 'enhanced' format. But this particular book sounds hissy. Whenever the (excellent) reader speaks, there is a lot hum & hiss in the background. When the reader pauses, the hiss goes away. If the hiss were *always* there it would just sound low quality and tinsy. But because the hiss comes & goes, it is incredibly distracting.
I had to put this book down without finishing it and will be contacting Audible for a refund.
I agree with the preceding complaints about sound quality. The story may have been great, but I just could not bear to listen to the hours of annoying static.
GREAT story, but sadly the quality of audio combined with the narrater's raspy whispery voice made this impossible to listen to in my car. I had to be in a very quiet room with no distractions, paying very close attention or I would not understand what she was saying. I gave up after about an hour. I hope they can rectify this because it is really a wonderful story (I have read the book before).
An unhurried, even languid, yet cogent and challenging exploration of age, youth, love, loss, cowardice, and social mores in the first half of the 20th century. A melodrama, a tragedy in the vein of Greek tragedy, Shakespearean tragedy and Dickensian tragedy. Not at all a Sci-Fi work. Presented in a complex modern style (which, of itself, is not necessarily groundbreaking), Atwood's perspicacious prose conveys truth less as through a true-color photograph than as through a "tinted" (colorized) black and white snapshot---the focus of the snapshot suffused with color, at times even florid or false color, while the background just enough tinted to convey context. Margot Dionne's crisp, clean narration is spectacular as the voice of Iris, one spent by life, love, and regret, as she completes this one last task: setting down the truth.
Good novel (4), Excellent narration (5), good audio quality (4) => overall good (4)
The writing of this book is a work of art. I loved the imagination so well intertwined with wisdom. The reading however was mechanically grave to the point hysteria. I felt that the reading was so grave and rageful that it presented the main character, Iris, as perpetual victim. Yet no victim will go to the trouble of writing a book, as Iris does, with the long shot hope of being heard by someone lost.
Though i love audio books i reccomend reading this one.
This is really the story of Iris Chase, as told when she looks back at her life from the viewpoint of an octogenarian. Born into a life of privilege in the early 1900's, Iris and her younger sister Laura watch as their lives take turns for the worse because of changing family fortune and circumstances beyond their control in that era. Laura dies tragically at 25 in what appears to be a bizarre accident. This novel is not linear, but the shifts in time make the story all the more suspenseful, in my opinion. The novel has a number of layers: Iris's narration, newsclippings, and a second, largely separate narration: the story of how two unnamed lovers meet secretly, make love, and debate plot and characterization for a pulpy science fiction novel. One does have to listen through extended passages of this rather trashy science fiction novel. The listener needn't really bother to make sense of the sci fi. (I'm not sure it does fully make sense!) What is of interest in this parallel story is what the lovers say to each other about their lives and about the novel they are collaborating to write. This is what is key to the novel as a whole. To be honest, I would have given this five stars, except that I personally found the sci-fi passages a little tedious to get through. However, the rest of the novel was so original and thoroughly engrossing that I still give the novel an unqualified recommendation.
I found this book to be complex (in a good way), with beautiful language. At first I was so engrossed by the different plots interwoven together that I didn't notice that overall the book is about a family tragedy. Wondering "which one is it!?" kept me going for a long time.
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