Van has finished reading…The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

18 Mar

For the second time in her life, Iris Chase assumes an unassailable position from which to tell a tale. And how she tells it. There’s a palpable sense of the season’s march, the treachery of age in Iris’s chapter openings. We feel her reaching into the past, reaching for the people who are no longer there. She is on borrowed time – a troublesome heart – and she yearns too for her estranged granddaughter’s return. The people she does come into contact with, in the main, she feels she could do without.

Transition is rife: the World at War, social unrest, family upheaval, the change from girlhood to womanhood, marriage. And where she might have expected courtship there is none, parental protection there is only bargaining. Iris is not one of the shapers of this world. Even in the eponymous book within the book, the world is bartered and shaped between the lovers.

In the end there was neither love, nor justice to speak of. Everything is lost to Iris, even her granddaughter. And it’s Sabrina she writes for now – sets down her testament (as surely she must always have known). It’s a setting straight, a relinquishing of the fiction of the past – a reshaping. So much of living is blind, and dangerous – both love and justice, we are reminded, are blindfolded as they wield their weapons. But it’s not so much what we can’t see, but what we choose not to see which damages the most.


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