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Alias Grace


Sometimes I whisper it over to myself: Murderess. Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt along the floor. In 1843, a 16-year-old Canadian ... Show synopsis

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Reviews of Alias Grace

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  • "Our Lady of the Silences" Dec 9, 2013
    by christopher

    ?Alias Grace is a work of fiction, although it is based on reality. Its central figure, Grace Marks, was one of the most notorious Canadian women of the 1840s, having been convicted of murder at the age of sixteen.?
    Author?s Afterword.

    Grace is one of nine children born into poverty in the north of Ireland. Her father was a violent hard drinking Englishman who attempted to look for work but never found any at the bottom of a beer glass.
    In 1840 the family sail to Canada to hopefully begin a new life courtesy of Grace?s uncle who happily pays to remove the family out of his home. Canada in the 1840s had a population of only some two million but this was growing due mostly to emigration especially from Ireland. The family arrive in Toronto and manage to find rooms. Grace?s father makes little or no attempt to find work and eventually Grace leaves to work as a servant for a wealthy family.
    She finds a good friend in Mary Whitney, a servant girl in the same household and later when Grace is fleeing the scene of the murders she uses her friend?s name as an alias.
    Grace drifts from job to job and eventually finds work some miles outside of the city of Toronto for a gentleman by the name of Thomas Kinnear the man she will later be accused of having murdered.
    The story starts with Grace relating her story from prison. Most of her story is being told to a young doctor, Simon Jordan, who is looking to unlock Grace?s memory as she cannot recall any details of the killing of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery.
    The novel can be read as a straight-forward narrative about the tale of a poor Irish family who emigrate to Canada where life does not get any easier and circumstances result in Grace Marks being accused of two murders: a tale of sex, murder and mystery. Reading it at that level the novel is a likeable, well crafted story that will not disappoint.
    However, this is a novel by Margaret Atwood writer of such books as ?The Handmaids Tale and ?The Blind Assassin? and so Alias Grace has depth and intelligence seeping out of every page. The story is as well crafted as a piece of scrimshaw and the words seem carved on Grace?s very bones. Atwood?s novel is at once delicate and brutal, fatalistic and optimistic and elicits a feeling of having read the mind of a genius.
    The novel?s tapestry is woven with the skill of Clotho and while reading one wonders which thread Atropos in the guise of Margaret Atwood will cut next. The story is believable, honest and with elements of social commentary that make one weep when realising that not enough has changed in the past 150 years where women and children are still too often determined as no more than chattels as they were in the nineteenth century.
    Though the novel has a dystopian feel, within its pages there is a semblance of hope. As Margaret Atwood herself said, ?In every dystopia there is a utopia.?

    Originally posted at http://womensprizeforfictionbookreview.wordpress.com/

  • Inside the mind of a maybe murderess Apr 4, 2010
    by Ellyb

    Margaret Atwood's novel "Alias Grace" is both a spell-binding psychological page-turner, and a probing social commentary on the relationship between men and women, scientists and their subjects of study, men and women, and haves and have-nots. Many different people with many different agendas try to fit "notorious murderess" Grace Marks into a neat box, and find themselves stymied.
    Despite the slow, almost languid pace of the narrative, I found myself taken in by Grace's narration of day-to-day life as a maid, then as a prisoner. Due to the basis for this novel being historical events, I knew that story would not have some sort of big reveal as to whether Grace was guilty or not, but that didn't stop me from turning the conundrum over and over in my mind. "Alias Grace" is a novel that stimulates thought, whether it be about how certain views of women have changed (or stayed the same), or about the nature of memory and insanity. This was one of Atwood's more captivating works, and I may return to it again someday.

  • Jul 17, 2007
    by donna


  • Excellent Historical Fiction May 17, 2007
    by Trilless

    Based primarily on a true 1800's double murder this novel is a close look at the murderess, Grace. Sometimes told by Grace and sometimes told by a psychologist trying to determine the truth of the case, it leads to a grand overall story.

    The question of Did she do it or was she duped makes for a page turner. It is a rather frank book about life for a young woman in a time where showing ankles was provocative, and there were few options for the "weaker" sex.

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