Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood - Book Review


Alias Grace

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood - Book Review

Margaret Atwood is the writer famous for The Handmaid’s Tale and its sequel that has been adapted into a TV series. She is known for her great storytelling ways and engaging the reader with the characters to touch them in ways they never knew was possible.

Alias Grace is a book based on a true story of a woman called Grace Marks, who was charged with killing her employer and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery. She was involved in the crime when she was only sixteen with another employee called James McDermott. He was hanged after he got caught. However, her sentence was commuted, and she stayed in an asylum.

Alias Grace is set in 1851, before psychology was an established science and before people knew what to do with a female murderer. The court could never decide whether that woman was guilty or innocent. The book leaves a lot of grey areas that the reader should paint after knowing Grace’s backstory and the circumstances surrounding the crime.

People speculated that she was insane, forced to do the crime, manipulated, or completely innocent. The problem is that she blocked the event from her mind completely, or so she claimed.

After she was sentenced to life in confinement, some people of law decided to figure out the truth after many years. Accordingly, they sent Dr. Simon Jordan to get into her psyche and try to understand and uncover the facts.

He was into hypnotherapy and new ways to get the patient to open up and destroy the wall they created. In the times when he wasn’t with Grace, he was involved in a pathetic affair. The relationship between him and Grace is subtle and might be forbidden.

Atwood told us Grace’s story in detail from the moment she left Ireland with her family and went to Canada for refuge. We read about her traumatic voyage, her mother’s death, and her father’s physical and sexual abuse. She was drowning in poverty, pain, and ignorance.

However, she got the chance to leave and work as a maid in a household to make her living and stay away from her father. Another trauma awaited her over there and made her hate people, especially men, and their devious ways.

Poems, documents, and articles were thrown at us to get us more into Grace’s life and the era she lived in. The facts are incoherent because no one truly knew what happened, and Atwood wanted to stick to history.

She also exposed some beliefs from that time, such as believing that you can know someone’s character by the shape and size of their skull. She also included some information about the spiritual and religious movements back then.

Apart from the inclusion of facts on the pseudoscience, Margaret also mentioned the Rebellion that was led by Mr. William Lyon Mackenzie, who was a radical. He stood up for the farmers against the politicians. However, the rebellion failed, and many radicals were caught.

Through novels, you can get to know history and stories that you would have never searched about if you didn’t read that specific book. This is how writers make history exciting, and a good writer would give us something useful in between metaphors and poetic novels.

Some chapters were written from the point of view of Grace, which was in the first-person way of storytelling. Other chapters were from Simon’s perspective; however, they were in the third-person. That’s why the book can be confusing when you start reading it, but after a while, you get used to it and understand who is talking. This book was adapted into a limited series by Netflix, which is great as well.

In the end, you won’t know whether that sixteen-year-old girl committed the crime or was merely a bystander. The book’s purpose is not to convict or exempt her, but it is there to lay the facts and combine them in one place. Grace Marks’ story remains mysterious until this day, with no one unable to uncover the truth.

On the bright side, you will enjoy the description of Canada in the 1800s and the lives of the people back then. You will also learn a thing or two about history. It is a book worth your time as you will get lost in it and then left bewildered.


Book Details

Title: Alias Grace
Format: Paperback
Author: Margaret Atwood
Language : English
Publisher : Anchor
ISBN: 978-0385490443

Most Viewed

Recently Viewed

Updated 8 months ago