Charlotte Reads Classics

Slowly, slowly, she sipped a sentence.

The Blind Assassin

The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood

If you didn’t know, The Blind Assassin is an engineered feat of writing: The story is narrated by Iris Chase, who informs us her sister Laura committed suicide ten days after the end of the second world war. Iris is now an old lady with heart problems, and wants to write a kind of confession of their lives to her estranged granddaughter. She remembers past events, not always chronologically, but skips between these memories and what is happening in the present. In addition to this, there is the novel written by Laura Chase (called The Blind Assassin) and newspaper articles spread through the narrative.

I’m not particularly into the kind of science fiction the story within the story within the story (the one actually featuring a blind assassin!) falls into, but as the novel continued I did begin to enjoy the relationship between the man and woman, especially as it begins to parallel the sisters’ lives more and more. I loved Iris as an old lady – she has some particularly excellent crazy elderly lines, but it was the hindsight and melancholic nostalgia that really won me over. And the tales of high society reminded me very much of the Ford Madox Ford novel I read recently.

Atwood manipulates this story perfectly – there really is no other book with such beautiful and touching depths.

Alias Grace Quotes

“All the same, Murderess is a strong word to have attached to you. It has a smell to it, that word – musky and oppressive, like dead flowers in a vase. Sometimes at night I whisper it over to myself: Murderess, Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt across the floor.”

“Out of the gravel there are peonies growing. They come up through the loose grey pebbles, their buds testing the air like snail’s eyes, then swelling and opening, huge dark-red flowers all shining and glossy like satin. Then they burst and fall to the ground.”

“He has been where they never could go, seen what they could never see; he has opened up women’s bodies, and peered inside. In his hand, which has just raised their own hands towards his lips, he may once have held a beating female heart.”