28 April 2007

Poor little rich girl? Again?

Alas, I expected so much more from Margaret Atwood. The Blind Assassin is one of her least satisfying works to date, and normally I love her writing.

I'll start with the positive: as a vision of the first 1/2 of the 20th century, this novel seems historically interesting and does engage the reader with accounts of the depression and of the effects of the world wars on the Canadian citizenry; as an American, fairly familiar with the stateside history of that time, the novel was of interest as a contrast to the conditions citizens in the U.S. faced. And it did keep me interested until the end; the novel wasn't so bad that I gave up on it.

On the negative side, the main character, Iris, failed to evoke any sympathy from me. Why should she? While she's self-involved with certain activities (to avoid mentioning a plot spoiler here), her sister, a minor, is being molested by her ape of a husband without her knowledge. The character begs for pity through accounts of improper media attention, or fears of such, and complaints about an arranged marriage. (For a more poingnant tale of arranged marriage, I'd recommend Amy Tan's The Bonesetter's Daughter.) She lives a life of uneventfulness and without benefit to anyone, and seems to have only had a brief period of any significance to anyone. Iris exemplifies, as a fictional character, T.S. Eliot's terrible lines of ennui and discontent with the living of a meaningless life.


Liz said...

Yeah, I didn't like it much either -- too much nothing.