Has there been a film version?
Supposedly one came out in 2002, but I can’t find any information on it except that it came out. Hmmm…
Who are the important characters?
Iris Chase-Griffen – the narrator, now old, she was unhappily married and is estranged from her only remaining family member
Laura Chase – Iris’s younger sister, a famous author, she committed suicide in her early twenties
Richard Griffen – Iris’s husband, a controlling man obsessed with reputation and money
Winifred Griffen – Richard’s sister, she works to control Richard, Iris, and Laura; she also stole Iris’s daughter away from her
Alex Thomas – a political upstart who writes pulp science fiction novels, a friend of the Chase girls
Sabrina – Iris’s estranged granddaughter
Reenie – the housemaid for the Chase girls at Avilion while they were growing up
Myra – Reenie’s daughter who now takes care of Iris
What’s it about?
This novel has a novel set within it. Primarily, it is the story of Iris Chase as she looks back on her childhood and young adult life as it pertains to her sister, Laura, and Iris’s unhappy marriage to Richard. Laura is a famous author whose novel “The Blind Assassin,” is still a cult classic decades after Laura’s death. The novel is included within Iris’s story and tells of a woman having an affair with a man below her social status. The two concoct a story set on a faraway planet to entertain themselves at their trysts.
Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
Probably because of it’s creativity and the intricacy of the story telling.
Do you recommend I read this book?
I guess so. I liked several of Atwood’s other books a lot better, such as “Alias Grace” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
How did this book make your list?
It’s won a bunch of awards and my Literature Prof claimed Margaret Atwood as her favorite author, so I want to read her books.
Has it won any awards?
It won the Booker Prize in 2000, Time Magazine named it the Best Fictional Novel of 2000, and the Hammett Prize in 2001. It was nominated for several other awards and was listed in Time Magazine’s Top 100 Novels of All Time.
“People cry at weddings for the same reason they cry at happy endings: because they so desperately want to believe in something they know is not credible.” – p 240
“I didn’t know the answers to any of those questions. I know all of them now. Not the answers of Samuel Taylor Coleridge – I’m not sure he had any answers, since he was hopped up on drugs at the time – but my own answers.” – p 334
I’m not exactly sure why this book won a Booker Prize. True, it’s clever and entertaining, but it doesn’t strike me as anything extra special; especially when compared to Atwood’s other novels. I understood from the beginning of the story what the end would be, and when I was correct in my guess I was kind of disappointed. I have grown to expect so much more from Atwood. I liked the characters and the concept of the story, I just felt it was pretty obvious what the whole thing was about. However, I adored the character of Laura and was a little jealous of Iris for having such an odd girl for a sister. And I chuckled a little at the inclusion of the pulp science fiction story. Those sorts of tales always make me laugh a little bit. And think of the original Star Trek a little bit too…