The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

February 2009

I started this book towards the end of 2007, but two other books intervened in my reading of it: The Interpretation of Murder, which I had to read for a book club, and Imperium, which I started reading because I needed a small book to take on a plane with me and then had to keep reading because I knew I would forget what was going on in it if I didn’t.

Though this was irritating (I only like to have one book on the go at any one time), it did remarkably little to spoil my enjoyment of The Blind Assassin. I can see why Atwood won the Booker Prize for this; it’s a beautifully constructed and written book, a slowly unfolding tale of the lives of two sisters, one of whom—Iris—is the compelling narrator. She is crotchety and acerbic, revealing poignant truths about aging and the nature of relationships both familial and amorous.

I think The Blind Assassin has some spiritual kinship with Atonement, both in its narrative within a narrative and its themes of betrayal and loss. And like Atonement, I found it moving to the point of being harrowing—and all the more wonderful for it. It’s perceptive, gripping, affecting, and fabulous.

Further reading…