The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood


“Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge” More than fifty years on, Iris Chase is remembering Laura’s mysterious death. And so begins an extraordinary and compelling story of two sisters and their secrets. Set against a panoramic backdrop of twentieth-century history, The Blind Assassin is an epic tale of memory, intrigue and betrayal…’


This book is a cross between Atonement and Star Trek.  It’s got the successful and wealthy family ultimately torn apart by romantic saga and sadness. It’s also got another aspect to it. Interspersed between Iris Chase’s memoirs of her and her sister Laura’s lives in Canada, is the Blind Assassin – a novella telling the tale of a secret love affair between two people who cannot be together, and the stories of the made up planet of Sakiel-Norn he tells her when lying in bed together. The story-within-a-story he tells her reminded me of Oryx and Crake with its ridiculous fantasies, made up words and foreign lands.

This book can offer everyone something, whether it be the drama of a rich and wealthy family, the torrid love between two sisters or a completely made up world where women grow on trees like peaches. I can’t ruin the details, who these two people are or why this fantasy tale is placed amongst Iris’ story as that would be a spoiler – but it’s so worth it in the end. This book is melancholy and often heart wrenchingly unfair, but once agaid, Atwood proves that you can have a satisfying ending even if your main characters’ life has been pretty unsatisfactory.

I am giving this book 5 stars because the image I had of Iris, of her life, and all the images in it were so crystal clear in my mind I didn’t for a minute doubt what was going on. Atwood uses her trait of jumping around the timeline of her characters, and as with The Handmaid’s Tale, you never even need an indication of what point she is telling the story from – you just know.

Every time I read a Margaret Atwood novel, I fall in love with her many different writing styles again, and this book is once again a testament to her complete versatility. I can see anyone of any age reading this book and loving it.