Alias Grace

Thoughts agbyma Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, Anchor Books DOUBLEDAY 1996, 465 pages ***** 35th book of my 2013

This is just another proof of Atwood’s talent to plumb the human psyche and her masterful skill at writing a story.

Given a true crime story from a century ago, Ms. Atwood extensively researches and then creatively conjures up what might have happened. A young girl is caught with a man in an American hotel and they are both dragged back to Canada try for the murder of their employers. Did she do it? Was she the mastermind or a pawn?

Her attorney manages to commute her sentence to life in prison, narrowly escaping being hung like her ‘boyfriend’. Thirty some years later and she is released and disappears into a marriage south: one more escape into the US and this one succeeds. Her trail ends, no more records of her life exist.

This story imagines a psychiatrist visitation while still in prison. Hired by sympathetic folk to her innocence, the doctor hopes to investigate her amnesia for the guilt of the crime – she just can’t remember. Atwood does a great job slyly suggesting a split personality but never really giving her opinions of Grace nor her motivations.

“And then she began to cry, and when I asked her why she was doing that, she said it was because I was to have a happy ending, And it was just like a book; and I wondered what books she had been reading.”  -p.446

Thoroughly enjoyable piece of historical fiction.

Five slices of pie.



With Up the Down Staircase:  “SAUVE QUI PEUT”!  p.376

With The Good House: fortune telling



31 thoughts on “Alias Grace

  1. One of those books that has been screaming at me from the shelves to just read it already. At the same time, starting an Atwood always makes me a little nervous (I state based on the 2-3 times I did). Have you read much by Atwood?

    1. Atwood is a favorite author. I think this could be a great one to start with if you are not sure you are ready for the themes of The Handmaid’s Tale. That one IS amazing, of course.

  2. Ruthiella

    I really loved this book too, although it took me a couple of tries before I got started. I love the ambiguity in the book. Although, I have a personal theory on what really happened. I think I liked this book even more than Blind Assassin. I have a copy of Oryx&Crake on my shelves as well as the Robber Bride both waiting to be read.

    1. Yea? Hardly worth arguing about – both/all books are awesome – but I think I liked Blind Assassin just a teensy bit more. I’m read by the sequel to O&C. Read it next and we can read YoF together!

  3. I love your list of connections. I think I’ve only read The Handmaid’s Tale, so will have to add this one to the ever-growing list (after Songs for the Missing, of course!)

    1. I was just remarking to a friend that I failed to find many after I decided to try and keep track and now I’m finding similar theme/threads in all the books I’ve read lately!

  4. aartichapati

    Wow, that good, huh? I’ll have to get this one! I’ve only read two Atwoods before, and they were so different!

  5. It’s been years and the particulars are long gone, but I loved this book. Cat’s Eye or The Robber Bride are my favorite Atwoods… and it’s time for me to reread The Handmaid’s Tale. Glad you loved this, too.

  6. I haven’t written a review yet, but I just finished it! The thing that blows me away about Atwood’s books is that they are all so different. She’s such a talented writer that the genre doesn’t even matter.

  7. I haven’t read anything by Atwood yet, so now I want to read this one first! Great review, Care.

    P.S. I received your lovely postcard. Thank you! I really think you’re psychic because I just KNEW I was going to receive something from you that day! :-)

  8. I’m surprised by the comments of folks who say they haven’t read Atwood yet. I was reading a lot of her stuff a few years ago but then started to fear that I would run out of material by her (I know, silly as she’s written SO much and still with us) but I really need to get back to her. Probably starting with this one. Think the only one I’ve read that you haven’t is Cat’s Eye. Oh and Robber Bride. But I haven’t read Oryx & Crake (own it).

  9. After I read The Handmaid’s Tale, which I think is one of the most important books of the 20th century, I went back and read everything she’d written, and thought her older novels were just okay. Then she wrote Oryx and Crake, and I realized that I mostly like her SF-type stuff. I’m waiting anxiously for Mad Addam this fall.

  10. So….is it a mystery? Because I need to read a mystery (any mystery) for my book club next month and I keep trying and failing to get one started. I wonder if I could count this, what do you think? Traditional mysteries are hit or miss for me. Mostly miss, it seems.

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