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Friday, 17 February 2017

A *literal* Masterpiece | The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood {Yomna's Review}

My rating: 5/5


A sheer masterpiece. I absolutely love this book.

I recently read this article titled, “Why Reading Margaret Atwood Will Change Your Life” and I must say everything in that article is 100% accurate. Margaret Atwood writes incredibly. Her writing is beautiful, yet raw and honest. She is an absolute joy to read, and a lot can be learned from her.

The Blind Assassin, at 635 pages, is a long book. It requires patience, and attention. Its genre can be best described as historical fiction, although it does not take place during one specific event in history, but rather spans a whole large part of the Twentieth century. However, some would also classify this as a mystery, but for the reader, not the character. Throughout the book, we attempt to unravel the secrets and meanings of this book, rather than the main character herself carrying out an investigation of some sorts, which is the usual mystery novel.

This book is mind-blowing. It’s not till the final pages that the truth of the story is revealed, and we understand that Iris wrote the story within the story, The Blind Assassin, rather than Laura, to whom the work is credited.  It’s quite an astonishing revelation. The whole time, we think we understand Iris, and yet her biggest secrets we do not know. And what is a person but the sum of their biggest and most unthinkable secrets? The thoughts contained in the depths of their souls?

It’s funny, because I really disliked Alex when we knew who he was, and yet in the story, I really admired him. He seemed so imaginative and big-minded. Alas, this story isn’t about just Iris’ life in relation to Alex.

The cultural aspect in this story very deeply enriches it. I really admired the world and how the differences between it and our contemporary society were conveyed. Iris’ and Laura’s lives are wildly different from the life they would’ve had now. The positives of such a society are shown, as well as the negatives, sexism being one of the biggest issues I saw. Feminism has gone a long way from the beginning of the twentieth century to today. Strangely, the most antagonistic character in this book was Winifred, Richard’s horrible sister. I found it really interesting to see the fight for power between Winifred and Iris. Even more clear was the fact that Iris and Winifred were both expected to do whatever they could to improve Richard’s life. Always seek to support and give him whatever he pleased; that was their only duty. This sole misfortune should’ve brought them together, because why couldn’t Winifred become the esteemed politician? She certainly had the potential to be, and more of a character than Richard ever did. I suspect that life would’ve suited her (if it were possible of course), and made her less of a conniving horrible woman. The life you get does determine what will become of you, unfortunately. In a parallel universe, Winifred is a kind, sincere woman. Hard to imagine, I know.

“If you knew what was going to happen, if you knew 

everything that was going to happen next—if you 

knew in advance the consequences of your own 

actions—you'd be doomed. You'd be ruined as God. 

You'd be a stone. You'd never eat or drink or laugh 
or get out of bed in the morning. You'd never love 

anyone, ever again. You'd never dare to.”

Margaret’s best strategy when addressing all the big issues was subtlety. She never outright tells the reader that something that happened to the main character is sexist, she leaves it to us. She disguises all her brilliant ideas in the story of two sisters, so we never notice.

Certainly, the most heart-breaking aspect of this book is Sabrina and Iris’ ruined relationship. Largely because Iris keeps on hoping to see her and explain herself, but never gets to. The last chapter, when she finally meets Sabrina, is a dream unrealized. It breaks my heart.

Did this book make me cry? Yes. Was it worth it? Definitely. It’s not often that you read such an utterly worthwhile book.   


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