The Blind Assassin

Reading Time: 3 minutes

by Margaret Atwood

“Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.” Suicide? Accident? What happened? This intriguing book leads us to an answer.

Laura and her older sister Iris were the granddaughters of a wealthy man who founded a button factory in the Canadian town of Port Ticonderoga. Apparently there was a lot of money in buttons in the early part of the twentieth century. But by the time Laura and Iris came along the business had begun to decline. They were still the privileged daughters of the town’s richest man, but their silver spoons were starting to tarnish.

Laura and Iris were kept separate from the other children of the town. Their father did not believe it was appropriate for them to mingle too closely with the children of his employees. As a result they lived an isolated childhood with only themselves for company. There was a kind housekeeper who took care of them after the early death of their mother, and there was a string of inept, or worse, predatory tutors who were in charge of their rather spotty education. There grandfather’s library was their true teacher.

When a group of Communist agitators came to town to organize unions in the factory, both of the girls fell under the spell of one of them. They both fell in love with him, and conspired to hide him when