Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Blind Assassin

I really enjoy reading Margaret Atwood. I looked at a list of her publications - there are many - and found that I've read 7 of her full length novels. My favorites have been The Handmaid's Tale, Alias Grace, and The Blind Assassin.

I first read The Blind Assassin in 2004. Here is part of what I wrote about it in my notebook at that time:

Exceptionally well written....really liked the Sci-Fi parts....whatever happened to "the blind assassin?"

I re-read it so that I could discuss it with my real-life book club later this month. It will be interesting to see what they think of it. We've already discussed Alias Grace and Cat's Eye. There was a mixed reaction to Alias Grace, some loved it, others were disinterested. Cat's Eye was actively disliked by everyone but myself. I think they felt that the book was pointless, since for most of it, 'nothing really happens'. Many were wary of voting for The Blind Assassin but 3 of us had already read and loved it so they were swayed.

My opinion of the book has not changed, but the experience of reading it was very different this time. I think whenever a book has some sense of mystery or suspense one tends to read carefully to pick up on those clues. Since I already knew the outcome of this novel, I was able to sit back and enjoy Atwood's writing, her fine characterization, the humor and sarcasm within the novel, the brilliant ride she takes you on.

I find it difficult to describe this book without giving anything away, but will say her technique of the book within the book is brilliantly conceived and executed. Atwood creates a great sense of place, a great sense of who these characters are to the point that you find yourself questioning their behavior that you've been presented with and thinking 'No, I don't think he/she would do/say that'.

I highly recommend this book. It is a long, absorbing, entertaining tale of a family mired in tragedy. It is not a difficult read but a thought provoking one.

If anyone would like to share their favorite Atwood books I'd love to heard about them. In addition to the ones I've mentioned, I have read The Robber Bride, Oryx and Crake, and Lady Oracle.

In other news, we've had lots of rain (and I finally watered. ahem) and I pulled 3 large zucchini out of the garden this morning which makes 5 sitting on the kitchen counter. It seems I spend a portion of every summer seeking out new recipes for this vegetable.

I've also just purchased tickets for The Sound of Music, which will be playing downtown this holiday season. It is hard to look so far ahead, but as I told my husband, in this case the early bird gets the good seats - row G, main floor.


Danielle said...

I think I have enjoyed everything I have read by Margaret Atwood--this is also one of my favorites, though. I really need to reread some of her work.

Carrie K said...

The Blind Assassin is the first Margaret Atwood book I've ever managed to finish-all her books sound intriguing, they're all very well written, but normally I just ....drift off.

He and the girl lived happily ever after. Didn't they?

BooksPlease said...

This makes me want to re-read The Blind Assassin, which I loved. I think my favourite Atwood is Alias Grace, closely followed by Cat's Eye and Life Before Man.

nutmeg said...

We read The Blind Assassin and Alias Grace for bookclub - it's rare we pick another book by an author we've already read - but we liked her novels a lot.

It's funny you should mention The Sound of Music as we are sitting here listening to the cd while the girls eat their dinner! I have been meaning to purchase this cd for a while and finally remembered it today. I saw a stage show of it when I was about 12 years of age and I remember a lot about it - I loved it of course. I would really like to see it on stage again - I would definitely take the diva with me - she is dancing about the room (having finished her dinner of course!)

Matt said...

I'm reading this right now. It is my first Atwood book. I'm finding it's different than I though it would be and I'm still not sure how the sci-fi story fits in.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read this Atwood book but loved "Alias Grace". I keep meaning to pick it up (along with about a million more books).

Enjoy "Sound of Music". One of my favorite musicals.

Iliana said...

My favorites are Handmaid's Tale, Cat's Eye and Alias Grace. I think she's fantastic and I really need to read more of her books.

Tara said...

Danielle, I think this is a good one to re-read. I would like to re-read The Handmaid's Tale myself.

Carrie, I think that's how my bookclub feels - they also drift off. Well, it's never implicitly stated - but I think they do. They do escape, after all.

Booksplease, I'll have to take a look at Life Before Man, thanks!

Nutmeg, we are all crazy about the music here, both my husband and I from childhood and my daughter as well. We used to have a bedtime routine that included the So long, farewell song!

Matt, I'm looking forward to hearing what your perspective is on this!

Kay, do pick it up sometime. Sound of Music is one of my all time favorites as well.

Bookgirl, I agree, though I haven't been particularly interested in what she's most recently published, I have to say.

lazy cow said...

The Robber Bride is my favourite, but I've read The Blind Assassin twice (once for bookgroup) and found it amazing. I listened to Oryx and Crake on talking book and found it disturbing to the extreme.

Cornflower said...

The only Margaret Atwood I've read is non-fiction: Negotiating with the Dead, so it's time I tried a novel, and this may be the one.

Tara said...

Lazy cow, how interesting that The Robber Bride is your favorite; I read it quite a few years ago and should revisit it someday. I agree that Oryx and Crake is very disturbing - Atwood's 'imagination' is very dire, isn't it.

Karen, do try one of her novels. Alias Grace is another good one to start with, in my opinion.

Bybee said...

I enjoyed the novel, and think that the cover is one of the best I've seen in the past few years.

Jill ONeill said...

Tara: I'm continuing a conversation here that we've had a bit on my blog. The science fiction writers who I think you might enjoy include Olivia Butler (Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents) and Shari S. Tepper (The Gate into Women's Country.) Otherwise any of the Ursula K. LeGuin I reference in my entry should be good as a way of starting.

Lotus Reads said...

So happy to have come across another Atwood fan! I find Atwood's books incredibly difficult to read, but I have also found that if one perseveres with it, the rewards are great.

I haven't read "The Blind Assassin", but after reading what you have to say about it, I am prompted to give it a whirl soon.

My favorite so far has been "Oryx and Crake"...genetics was what I majored in in College, so the subject remains close to my heart. :)

Tara said...

Lotus, Atwood seems to be one of those authors that people either love or loathe from my experience. Interesting that Orxy and Crake is your favorite! I definitely enjoyed the reading experience; both O & C and The Handmaid's Tale are a bit fear inducing, though.

Bookfool said...

I think I'm actually a little afraid of Atwood, but I just came across a copy of The Blind Assassin at our library sale for a quarter, so I hope to give it a go, soon. Your review is wonderful.

Tara said...

Bookfool, thank you! Give Atwood a try, theres nothing to be afraid of. I think Alias Grace is another good book of hers to begin with.