Review: The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood (2000 winner)

My only experience of reading Margaret Atwood before this had been studying ‘The Handmaids Tale’ for a level English literature. I’ve found that I tend to enjoy books less if I’m made to analyse them throughout, so I was keen to read another of Atwood’s novel for pleasure.

The Blind Assassin confused me at first, it simultaneously tells a number of stories (which inevitably link up by the end of the novel). But I enjoyed all the different strands, they are all quite different, even though most are telling the story of the same people’s lives just at different periods in time. I felt like I was getting a real understanding of the how the people grew and changed as they grew up and older by reading the different perspectives simultaneously. The book also gives a perspective on how life and attitudes changed over the course of Iris Chase, the main protagonist’s, lifetime.

A smaller section of the book tells the story of ‘The Blind Assassin’ the novel Iris publishes post-humously for her sister. This is most like the Atwood I’d read before in the Handmaid’s Tale, a more dystopian science-fiction world and was interesting change from the

The two sisters in the book don’t have an easy relationship, but the family tie keeps them coming back together at different points in their lives even though it’s challenging to do so. The book has a few twists in it which keep you interested and a clever ending which shows that for the Chase sisters, blood is thicker than water.

Finally, I really enjoyed the writing of the older Iris Chase, and a couple of my favourite quotes are from the later parts of her life in the books…

“Next it was time for the graduates to receive their diplomas. Up they trooped, solemn and radiant, in many sizes, all beautiful as only the young can be beautiful” 

“Having long ago whispered ‘I want to die’, I now realise that this wish will indeed be fulfilled, and sooner rather than later. No matter that I’ve changed my mind about it”. 

And a couple of other quotes I liked… 

“Farewells can be shattering, but returns are surely worse. Solid flesh can never live up to the bright shadow cast by it’s absence.”


“he [a waiter] said to me… “Why are you sad?” “I’m not sad” I said, and began to cry. Sympathy from strangers can be ruinous”


Format: Kindle (but with thanks to The Kirks) 🙂

And finally… I think this has been my favourite read of the challenge so far which is encouraging after a couple I’ve not enjoyed! Next up I’m going to try some of the earlier ones from the 1970s!Image

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4 Responses to Review: The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood (2000 winner)

  1. Gemma says:

    Did you like Handmaid’s Tale?
    I like Atwood; I’ve read a collection of her short stories and essays and also the Edible Woman… The latter is a little strange! Will definitely read this soon

  2. The Blind Assassin is probably my favourite Atwood novel. I also really liked Cat’s Eye.

  3. Vic says:

    Great review – enough to make me consider going back to Atwood and put the A-level Handmaid’s Tale experience behind me!

  4. Pingback: Review: Amsterdam – Ian McEwan (1998 winner) | Amy's adventures in award winning literature

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