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Archive for March 16th, 2011

In my quest to read TIME’s best books ever written I try to read five a year, in the hopes that in 10 years or so, I will be fully cultured (is that even a word?).  The point of this little project is to continue to learn and stretch my mind, which often finds itself in the gutter reading books with pretty covers, and I hope I’m not the first person to realize that the cuter the cover, the trashier the book. 

I just finished reading The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood.  Written in 2000, it has been awarded several major literary awards, including the Booker Prize and the Hammett Prize, and is one of the most recently written books on TIME’s list.  My good friend Lisa adores Margaret Atwood, though I must admit that my previous attempts to read her have failed miserably.  As an author, Atwood is known as a writer of science fiction (thanks to the The Handmaids Tale and Oryx and Crake) and I have never read a science fiction book I’ve enjoyed.  In fact, I vividly remember struggling through Dune in eighth grade for my Humanities class and wondering why anyone would actually read such a book for fun.   

I was pleasantly surprised that this Atwood novel could best be described as historical fiction (with a dash of Canadian history, social commentary and political edge), with lots of plot twists and turns and I really, really enjoyed the book.  I couldn’t wait to get to the end, and I spent the better part of a weekend racing through the last 200 pages.

Here’s a quick five sentence summary (and I won’t give anything away): 

In the main story, two sisters grow up in rural Ontario, Canada as privileged daughters of a manufacturer.  Lots of tragedies ensue and they lose money and family.  The oldest daughter is married off for money, unhappiness reigns, and the younger sister dies.  In the story within a story, a wealthy woman falls in love with a poor wandering writer.  He tells her a fantastic fantasy story, but they lose each other in the end.  The End.

Wow, that summary is terrible.  Clearly, a 500+ page Margaret Atwood novel cannot be reduced to a short paragraph.  And why should it?  Trust me when I say that this book is worth your time and effort, and is much better than my summary suggests.  I promise!

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