The curtain for the book rises with these resonant, hard hitting words, “Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge”. Spoken by Iris Chase, the tale is a terse account of life, betrayal, questions, and non fulfillment. Atwood creates an astonishing vision with an unforgettable impact- a tale within a tale; The Blind Assassin is a story of two unnamed partners who meet each other in the dingy rooms of backstreets, to find love in each others’ arms. Brilliantly weaved, the novel can roughly be said to have three strands- the chronicles of Iris Chase, her fulfilling marriage to mogul Richard Griffen, and her brooding, solitary old age.
So let’s see how it all actually goes! Iris and Laura are two sisters, granddaughters of a button factory’s owner, living in Port Ticonderoga, Canada. Both have lived protected lives but lose their mother early. Iris is married to Richard Griffin who is a business tycoon. He is way too many years older to her and has a very pesky sister, Winifred. Laura detests the brother-sister duo (and holds them responsible for the downfall of the Chase Empire and the death of their father). In the parallel story, there is a young rebel who narrates “The Blind Assassin” (a science fiction) to his lover, which becomes a controversial book when Iris decides to release it years later.
It would be prudent to say that both the stories keep you completely occupied. While Iris’ narration is more real to life (losing her parents, a failing marriage, a bad ass sister-in-law, a complicated sister, and an extra marital affair), The Blind Assassin (the science fiction) drifts you off to a far off land- to a planet where there’s tones of cruelty (imagine ripping off the eyes of little kids, making them weave carpets, and then turning them into assassins) and lots of shattered dreams.
We guess this is enough to make you pick the book and make the rest of the discoveries for yourself. The set up is promising, the narrative gripping, the story bewitching and the twists really warped! There are enough surprises and losses, and some sentences really stick with you. Like at one point, Iris observes, “In paradise, there are no stories, because there are no journeys. It’s loss and regret and misery and yearning that drive the story forward, along its twisted road”. There are tones others that we’ve noted down for ourselves, but guess you’ve to grab the book and find your own set of phrases that are worth-noting!
And did we just forget to mention that the book has won the Booker Prize?! Looks like we just did! So go ahead, and immerse yourself in those 641 pages of pure wonder!