Chosen by Rachel
A novel within a novel within a novel. Set in a fictional Canadian town it recalls the life events of an ageing lady. It won the Booker Prize in 2000.
⚈ “The Blind Assassin opens with the following sentence: ‘Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove her car off a bridge’, making it clear there are mysteries to be solved.
“The make up of the book is puzzle like, with four interweaving narratives. The main story is of the Chase family from World War I through the end of the 1990s. Laura Chase, the sister who drives her car off the bridge, has a published novel which is dictated, also entitled The Blind Assassin. In it, two unnamed lovers pursue an affair. The man – some kind of political subversive – is on the run, while the woman has reason to want the relationship to remain secret. During their meetings are fragments of a third narrative, a science fiction fable that the man tells the woman. Interspersed among these three narratives are fragments of a fourth narrative: newspaper and magazine stories of Toronto society in the 1930s and 1940s.
When you’re young, you think everything you do is disposable. You move from now to now, crumpling time up in your hands, tossing it away. You’re your own speeding car. You think you can get rid of things, and people too—leave them behind. You don’t yet know about the habit they have, of coming back.
⚈ “The Blind Assassin is about storytelling. Storytelling within storytelling within storytelling. Clearly a book for those who love books! I could say it is about an ageing woman recalling her life in the 30s and 40s and the death of her sister, who drives her car off a bridge in the opening sentence. But this is merely just the beginning and it is becomes so much more than that. Layer after layer of intrigue is uncovered in this rich and uniquely rewarding reading experience. There are many tiers to this book, and I became instantly engrossed in all the stories being told, in the characters and their lives. It takes a little to get into rhythm with the various settings, timeframes and beats of the stories, but once you’re there, you’re living the book, and all its stories and it’s hard to put it down. Margaret Atwood is a master and I’m always apprehensive to start another of her novels knowing it will only have to end.” – Rachel
⚈ “Despite my initial confusion with The Blind Assassin it was definitely worth persevering with! A stunning novel, one of my all-time favourites. In conversations about books, I’m always surprised about the number of people who know of it but who haven’t read it. Resulting in me shoving my copy in their hands and saying aggressively “SERIOUSLY YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK”. Margaret Atwood is one of my heroes.” – Suzy
McClelland & Stewart