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Margaret Atwood

   
 

Love is Blind...

   

 

  

 

"I look back over what I've written and I know it's wrong, not because of what I've set down, but because of what I've omitted.  What isn't there has a presence, like the absence of light." 

Last week we reread The Blind Assassin, Canadian author Margaret Atwood's Booker Prize-winning novel, and it was as marvelous as when we first read it in 2000.  Storytelling in the grand tradition - a perfect book to curl up with of an evening as the days get shorter, when one turns to literary substance in an uncertain time.

Like a Russian matryoshka doll it offers up story nestled inside story nestled inside story.  Iris Chase Griffen is dying, an octogenarian who has lived through most of the twentieth century.  She looks back on her life; Canadian history is the tumultuous backdrop for a novel that is a tale of a family and the relationship between two sisters.  A story of class and money, love and passion, and a mystery - the different strands of the novel are braided together and to read here is to unravel.  Iris looks back at the people she has lost in her life - her sister Laura Chase who died in a mysterious car accident in 1945 and her husband Richard Griffen, the wealthy industrialist, found dead in 1947.  Another strand tells of how Iris came to be married to Richard, and of her estrangement with her sister Laura and of the strange quartet they formed with Alex Thomas, the mysterious political activist who entranced both the sisters. 

To read here is not only to unravel, but to reveal the layers within - there are excerpts from a novel also called The Blind Assassin, apparently written by Laura and published posthumously, of a secret love affair between a wealthy woman and her lover who is on the run.  Also, pieces of a science fiction story that the lovers conjure up together.  These snippets - allegorical and metaphorical - tell of a blind assassin who falls in love with his victim - a sacrificial virgin who has had her tongue cut out - they learn each other and fall in love through touch…. The science fiction Atwood has dabbled in is more than palatable here in the small doses she offers up.  

The Blind Assassin is unputdownable -  a strange layered story that reveals Atwood's prose at its best - wry, intelligent, and beautifully precise.   

 

Read: The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood 

 

Tags:  literature    canada  

 

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