Megan Harlan
September 08, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Blind Assassin

Current Status
In Season
Margaret Atwood

We gave it an A

In her ingenious new tale of love, rivalry, and deception, The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood interweaves several genres — a confessional memoir, a pulp fantasy novel, newspaper clippings — to tease out the secrets behind the 1945 death of 25-year-old socialite Laura Chase. Events open with the present-day autobiography of Laura’s older sister, Iris: The sharp-witted widow recalls growing up in a repressive family of wealthy Toronto industrialists — and how dreamy Laura developed a forbidden interest in a scruffily attractive union leader. Entwined with this saga are marvelous excerpts of Laura’s posthumously published novel — an erotic cult classic called The Blind Assassin, detailing the illicit affair between an unnamed strike organizer and an heiress, during which the man relates a clever, bedtime sci-fi yarn about a blind assassin who falls for a mute sacrificial virgin. Atwood performs a spectacular literary sleight of hand, fashioning a bewitching, brilliantly layered story of how people see only what they wish to — and how terrible the consequences of not voicing the truth can be. A

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