"Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drover a car off a bridge."
That begins this tangled story of two sisters and their tumultuous life in the unstable wealth of the 1930s. In her masterful way, Atwood delves deeply into this story and somehow puts together a controlled, coherent, and brilliant tale out of what at first appears to be disordered scraps: newspaper articles, the memories, a novel within a novel within the novel. It's a complex construction, but somehow Atwood makes it seem easy.
"What had she been thinking as the car sailed off the bridge, then hung suspended in the afternoon sunlight, glinting like a dragonfly, for that one instant of held breath before the plummet? Of Alex, of Richard, of bad faith, of our father and his wreckage; of God, perhaps, and her fatal, triangular bargain."
It takes a while to figure out just what all of these factors have to do with Laura and Iris, the surviving sister telling the tale. But they come together, and as is typical with Atwood, they come together in intricate, psychologically and socially realistic ways.
Also, though this book takes place in a more realistic (at least, more of what we've come to accept as realistic) way than her other books, one of the layers of this tale is a wonderful science fiction story--The Blind Assassin--a picture of a tyrannical, chaotic world that at first glance has nothing to do with ours. It takes a bit of work to figure out just what all of these elements have to do with each other. But when they came together, I couldn't imagine a clearer portrayal of the underlying emotions. Highly recommended.
4 stars out of 5.