“Having long ago whispered I want to die, I now realize that this wish will indeed be fulfilled, and sooner rather than later. No matter that I’ve changed my mind about it.”
Atwood, having once written the Handmaid’s tale can do no wrong in my eyes. I trust her to the end of the Earth and back. And much of this book, I’ll admit, had to be read on that trust. This is not a whirlpool of a book, nowhere does is suck you in, instead, it skips like flat stones on ice. And I cannot decide whether I like that or not.
“Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge”
The blind assassin is one of the things I hate most in books. It is a novel with a novel within. Iris tells the story of her and her sister Laura. Starting with their childhood, up until Laura committed suicide and then further on into the aftermath where the blind assassin, the only book written by Laura before her death, is published. The blind assassin tells the story of a forbidden affair. The surrounding narration by Iris tells the story of the rise and fall of an empire built on buttons. It reveals the effects of the world wars on Canada, but mostly it’s about the two sisters and the very different paths they take in life and love. Iris marries Richard Griffen for money and safety. Laura is infatuated with religion, freedom and a communist named Alex Thomas.
In the beginning the novel seemed out of place, placed there by the love of Iris towards her sister. Interspersed are random newspaper clips; the first clue that we are not in fact readers, but rather detectives unearthing a truth.
And here lies the best and the worst of the novel. This truth is heart wrenching as we slowly piece it together. In the end, when we are impatient for it true reveal, it is not just us, but Iris that must admit the truth to herself in order to reach it. But the truth is too slow. It is a very long novel, made longer by its namesake novel inclusion. And it suffers by its own length. It is a shame for it is such a beautiful story, but one must be prepared to spend time with it. In the end I give it four stars, because it is a story that deserves the time it demands.
“Time rises and rises, and when it reaches the level of your eyes you drown.”