Book 21, The Blind Assassin (2000) – Margaret Atwood
From the back cover:
“‘Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.’ These words are spoken by Iris Chase Griffen, married at eighteen to a wealthy industrialist but now poor and eighty-two. Iris recalls her far from exemplary life, and the events leading up to her sister’s death, gradually revealing the carefully guarded Chase secrets. Among these is ‘The Blind Assassin,’ a novel that earned the dead Laura Chase not only notoriety but also a devoted cult following. Sexually explicit for its time, it was a pulp fantasy improvised by two unnamed lovers who meet secretly in rented rooms and seedy cafés. As sacrifice and betrayal, so does the real narrative, as both move closer to war and catastrophe. Margaret Atwood’s Booker Prize-winning sensation combines elements of gothic drama, romantic suspense, and science fiction fantasy in a spellbinding tale.”
Well, I wasn’t disappointed. I love books like this, with several stories going on at once and jumps back and forth in time. I figured out most of the “surprise twists” but it didn’t detract at all from the novel. I really got to know and to like Iris (and to detest her sister-in-law!! not to mention her husband…). I enjoyed the pulp erotic sci-fi parts and the biographical-family history parts in which Iris chronicles the rise and decline of the Button Factory and Port Ticonderoga. Fantastic book. I probably would’ve had more to say if I hadn’t waited 3 months to post about it.
Now we know by the end (though I suspected much earlier) that Richard had had his way with young Laura. I kept getting the sense throughout that there was also something incestuous going on between Richard and Winifred—she seems awfully attached to him…
I imagine some people will be annoyed by Iris’s lack of independence and will to be so controlled like that and not to apprise herself of what was going on with Richard and the factory and Richard and Laura and actively change things, but I think the point is that she was “sold off” at a fairly early age and was taken advantage of by Richard and Winifred.