April 4, 2012

Book: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Attwood

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:42 am

Just a note: This book won the Booker Prize in 2000.

Wow, what a book! It is a pleasure reading this one. It tells the story of two sisters mainly. The elder one is Iris Chase, who became Iris Griffen after marrying Richard Griffin. She is the narrater of the story. The second one is Laura Chase, her younger sister. The book opens with Laura driving her car off a cliff in Toronto, thereby killing herself.

The story is told in lyrical style, the prose is captivating. The story is confusing at first, with Newspaper reports presented in a seemingly disjointed way. This is compounded by the story moving back and forth in time, with Iris, a
very old woman now, living in the present and reminiscing about the past in pieces. There are other pieces that are left tantalizingly hanging, an affair here, a story about the lizard people and blind assassins there, which again seems to have no connection with the main story initially…

It all ties beautifully well into each other as the story proceeds. The story is one of Chase industries, created by the girls’
grandfather and run inefficiently by the father, who is a war veteran (First World War) and the war wounded. The mother is the silent power behind the empire but dies early, with the father bewildered and broken. The factory is run to the ground and in order to save them from utter penury and bankrupcy, the father hands over the elder daughter and the company to an industrialist Richard Griffen, who has an eye to political power in Ottawa and also a deep unease about being ‘New Money’ and his obnoxious sister Winifred.

He dies shortly thereafter and his factories are closed and absorbed in the Griffen Empire. Laura, the wilful child whom no rules can hold, runs away repeatedly and hates Richard…

The story is told to its final denouement, and is like reading poetry sometimes…. (Reminds one of Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels, though perhaps  not as elegant).

I loved the book and the way it is told, and even the disjointed pieces lock themselves together and are enhanced because of the very presentation in the end.

A lovely book, filled with heartache, wonders, human failings and triumphs, a great read!

Let us say a 8/10.

— Krishna


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