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The Blind Assassin  By  cover art

The Blind Assassin

By: Margaret Atwood
Narrated by: Margot Dionne
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Publisher's Summary

Man Booker Prize, Fiction, 2000

For the past 25 years, Margaret Atwood has written works of striking originality and imagination. In The Blind Assassin, she stretches the limits of her accomplishment as never before, creating a novel that is both entertaining and profoundly serious.

The novel opens with these simple resonant words: "Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge." They are spoken by Iris, whose terse account of her sister's death in 1945 is followed by an inquest report proclaiming the death accidental. But just as you expect to settle into Laura's story, Atwood introduces a novel-within-a-novel. Entitled The Blind Assassin, it is a science fiction story told by two unnamed lovers who meet in dingy backstreet rooms. When you return to Iris, it is through a 1947 newspaper article announcing the discovery of a sailboat carrying the dead body of her husband, a distinguished industrialist.

Told in a style that magnificently captures the colloquialisms of the 1930s and 1940s, The Blind Assassin is a richly layered and uniquely rewarding experience. The novel has many threads and a series of events that follow one another at a breathtaking pace. As everything comes together, you will discover that the story Atwood is telling is not only what it seems to be - but is, in fact, much more.

©2000 by O.W. Toad, Ltd.

Critic Reviews

Book Sense Book of the Year Award Finalist, Adult Fiction, 2001

"Dionne’s narration is hypnotic and moody, mapping out Atwood’s social and emotional geography, the many little hurts and betrayals, and the hopes. Listeners will find themselves piecing together the clues, guessing at truths, but the rewards are to be found in the layering of details and the skill of the storytelling." (AudioFile)

Featured Article: Best Authors for Fans of Margaret Atwood


Iconic Canadian author Margaret Atwood is more than a beloved novelist, poet, and essayist. She’s also a feminist, environmental activist, and innovator. Atwood examines important themes across many genres, including nonfiction, poetry, dystopian fiction, science fiction, and retellings of mythology. If you've worked your way through all of her stellar audiobooks and don’t know where to go next, here are some listens by authors similar to Atwood for you to enjoy.

What listeners say about The Blind Assassin

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Good book, TERRIBLE audio!

Inconsistencies in volume, a terribly annoying high-pitched whining pulse that comes in and out, a muffled sound like the actor was too far from the mic, and more. Plus, terrible cuts in and out from chapters. No pausing, sometimes, just words spilling over from one section to the next. TERRIBLE! I never write reviews, but the quality of this recording is SO bad that I felt I owed it to other interested consumers to warn them. Please, read the book in print. Do NOT waste your money or credits on this audio.

125 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Terrible audio quality

As others have pointed out, the audio quality of this audiobook is abysmal. I am a frequent Audible listener, and download only the highest quality 'enhanced' format. But this particular book sounds hissy. Whenever the (excellent) reader speaks, there is a lot hum & hiss in the background. When the reader pauses, the hiss goes away. If the hiss were *always* there it would just sound low quality and tinsy. But because the hiss comes & goes, it is incredibly distracting.

I had to put this book down without finishing it and will be contacting Audible for a refund.

102 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Audio engineer ought to be ashamed

I have listened to over 100 audio book productions and this book is by far the very worst engineering I've had the misfortune of hearing. It is not, in fact, the narrator who's to blame, though similar reviews may lead one to this conclusion. These listeners apperantly wouldn't know any better. It is the engineer whose to blame. Overuse of compression and a failure to employ a deesser makes this work virtually unlistenable. A deesser deemphasizes the "s" sound of the human voice and smooths out the harsh and raspy sound that consonant makes through a microphone. Unless the listener is capable of employing severe equalization, i recommend to stay away from this production no matter how much you love Attwood. She's one of my favorite contemporary authors and as much as I would like to finish this book I cannot listen to another second. I purchased the novel and have opted to read it, instead, in peace and quiet as opposed to listening to static and insufferable, piercing, incessant "s" sounds. I'm truly stunned that this audio was released as it was. Random house needs to reengineer this work. I'm sorry Margaret, someone really did you wrong with this one.

93 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Sound Quality makes This one a Non-starter

I agree with the preceding complaints about sound quality. The story may have been great, but I just could not bear to listen to the hours of annoying static.

56 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The Best!

I downloaded this book after listening to Oryx and Crake and I have to admit that from the teaser, I too was expecting more of a Sci Fi story. However, what I ended up with was something much richer. To call the novel a romance would not give it its full character. More simply, the book is a fascinating tale of one woman's life spanning from WWI through modern times. As with Oryx and Crake, the characters have great depth and personality and the plot takes a perrilous and often unexpected course. Atwood's background as a poet also shines through in the rich language of the book. After listening to The Blind Assasin, I am planning to get my hands on every one of Margaret Atwood's books!

52 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

audio quality made it unbearable

GREAT story, but sadly the quality of audio combined with the narrater's raspy whispery voice made this impossible to listen to in my car. I had to be in a very quiet room with no distractions, paying very close attention or I would not understand what she was saying. I gave up after about an hour. I hope they can rectify this because it is really a wonderful story (I have read the book before).

50 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

the reading assassin

The writing of this book is a work of art. I loved the imagination so well intertwined with wisdom. The reading however was mechanically grave to the point hysteria. I felt that the reading was so grave and rageful that it presented the main character, Iris, as perpetual victim. Yet no victim will go to the trouble of writing a book, as Iris does, with the long shot hope of being heard by someone lost.
Though i love audio books i reccomend reading this one.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

NOT Science Fiction

This story a romantic period novel; it may even be a romance novel, but it is is definitely not sci-fi, as the "teaser" might indicate. The science fiction story is the contrivance between two adulterous lovers...he is a writer of stories for "Amazing Stories", "Weird Tales" and the other pulp fiction "dime" magazines of the time. Whoever the publicist is, should probably read a book before they review it. Since I paid for the book, I finished listening to it. I figured out most of it just by paying attention. Rating it as a romance novel I'll give it three stars; as a science fiction story, I give it NO stars.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

One of my all time favorites!

A deliciously bitchy yet strangely passive woman looks back on her glamorous life and the mistakes she's made. She reveals her secrets at a leisurely pace, thus the book is not for those who like their plots tightly packed. It became, for me, a mystery of character, where every page holds an observation or description that takes your breath away. A real writer's book. Don't be put off by the sci-fi elements, (which initially I was) they pay off beautifully as the author entices you into her web.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful Audio

First of all this is one of the best matches of author and narrator that I've heard.Of all the good things about this book pehaps the best is Atwood's ability to extract all the fine things out of the English language. This is equalled by Margot Dionne's ability to speak each syllable with such passion that she wring's every nuance of meaning from it. Listening to this audio was like being a fly on the wall watching the characters evolve.

The story here is one of romance, lust, intrigue, deception, heartbreak, and family tragedy that is framed in 100 years of real life history.

There is nothing new in any of the subplots. It is the weaving of each of these told and told individual stories into a masterpiece that will keep you listening.

It is like someone taking mundane "been there - done that" food items and combining them into several new recipies, adding a table presentaion and serving a feast full of dishes that taste new even though you've eaten them all before.

By allowing the story to span such a timeline, Atwood has plenty of room for the characters to evolve into 3D people that you come to know quite well.

About 2/3 of the way through you begin to realize the final secret that will be revealed at the end. As it slowly dawns on you, you begin to think back and realize that it should have hit you sooner if only you'd paid more attention to detail. Everything was there to support the truth. Like a master illusionist Atwood misdirected us because she didn't want us to see it until she was ready.

The integration of the sci-fi story was a great tool to add to certain character's development as well as to provide some insight into what the characters do when they were "off-camera".

Overall one of the greatest fictional works in many years.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Flaminia
  • 08-28-13

Interesting Novel - very bad audio quality

I really liked this book so I'm sorry to write this relatively bad review but the audio quality was so poor! The narrator is very good but the background sound is terribly loud. I really advise reading the book but, unless audible change the recording, I would definitely not recommend buying it.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Burcin
  • 10-07-10

Good listen probably

I was fascinated to pick up this book based on author's fame and other readers' reviews in general. The plot is very complex and I find it very difficult to follow by listening. I wish I bought the paper book and read it, so that I could go back and make sure I got it all. Anyways, it requires great deal of attention to follow. But the story is very good and captivating. Also, I must say the reader of the audio has done a good job.

1 person found this helpful