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Remarks on The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

June 13, 2011
Cover of "The Blind Assassin"

Cover of The Blind Assassin

After reading The Handmaid’s Tale, I felt I needed to read more Margaret Atwood.  So when I happened across a couple of her books at the local used bookstore, I picked them up.  The Blind Assassin is the second book I’ve read by Atwood and I am still enamored of her writing style.

The Blind Assassin contains the memoirs of an elderly woman as she looks back on her life interspersed with excerpts from a book attributed to her sister.  In the parts that deal specifically with the memoirs you see much of the family drama unfold starting with WWI, as well as interludes explaining day to day life for the elderly woman, Iris Griffen, in present times.  The other parts of the book form an elaborate love story, as well as containing pieces of speculative fiction.  The tale of the blind assassin, the namesake of the novel, is one such story.  It was a tale that even as a stand-a-lone piece of work would be amazing to read.  As part of this book, it added a whole new dimension.

The younger sister, Laura Chase, is one that you find yourself contemplating throughout the novel.  She is a strange character with whimsical qualities and at times she seems tragically different from the norm.  Atwood uses vast details and descriptions in this novel, making for wonderful imagery.  She is adept at describing outfits and moods and even the background scenery with such an exquisite flare that you find yourself able to visualize being a part of the scene.  I think there was a soft spot for the character Laura as what she does is always described in such deliberate detail.  Laura is primarily connected with the use of colors.

The layout of the book with different parts representing different styles of writing and different time tables for the writing made it seem like it would be disjointed.  At first as I was reading the book, I was confused and did find it a little abrupt.  As I continued reading though the transitions from part to part became second nature.  Though it takes a little bit to get used to having the book broken up in the way it is, it becomes easier and easier to follow and merge the broken sections together.

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood is a very different book from The Handmaid’s Tale, but one I thoroughly enjoyed.  I am very quickly becoming a fan of the writings of Atwood and can’t wait to read more of her books.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. June 13, 2011 5:43 pm

    I loved The Handmaiden’s Tale, I liked Cats Eye, and The Penelopiad, I will try more of her work soon-one of her short stories can be read for free at I enjoyed your very well done review a lot

    • June 13, 2011 6:07 pm

      Thank you! I haven’t read Cats Eye or The Penelopiad yet, I will have to look for those books. I have The Year of the Flood and Moral Disorder (thanks to for that one) in my TBR pile to read.

  2. June 13, 2011 6:00 pm

    I’ve still only read The Handmaid’s Tale by Atwood. I really must read more at some point, this sounds great thanks!

    • June 13, 2011 6:08 pm

      This is very different from The Handmaid’s Tale, but also very good. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  3. June 13, 2011 6:25 pm

    I recently got hold of a copy of The Penelopiad, but sorry to say I haven’t read a single Atwood. For shame! I know. I’ll get to it by the end of the summer…

  4. She permalink
    June 13, 2011 8:08 pm

    I read this not too long ago and did enjoy it but not as much as her more dystopian novels. I definitely think there’s a division of those who love the more normal novels and those who love the more dystopian. I’d recommend to pick up Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood– both are fantastic although the latter is my favorite.

    • June 14, 2011 6:16 am

      I have Year of the Flood … I’ll have to read it sometime soon 🙂 I’m probably one who leans towards the dystopian, but at the same time I really enjoyed this novel.

  5. June 15, 2011 6:37 pm

    I find it very difficult to choose a favourite with Atwood, but this is definitely one of them and one I have often recommended.

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