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Alias Grace

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  49,611 ratings  ·  2,237 reviews
In her bestselling novel" The Handmaid's Tale, " Margaret Atwood masterfully took us to a chilling world of the future. In her astonishing new novel "Alias Grace, " she just as convincingly takes us back 150 years and inside the life and mind of one of the most notorious women of the 1840s. Grace Marks is serving a life sentence for her part in the vicious murders of Thoma ...more
Hardcover, Large Print, 472 pages
Published February 1st 1996 by Nan A Talese (first published 1996)
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Working with patches. Patchwork. Putting together various pieces of material that already existed and joining them into a new design.

This is the theme that Margaret Atwood has developed through her novel, and I am not making this up for the sake of my review. Her concluding paragraphs, spoken by her heroine, are about the patched Tree of Paradise.

The Tree itself is of triangles, in two colours, dark for the leaves and a lighter colour for the fruits; I am using purple for the leaves and red for
Margaret Atwood occupies a strange nook in my heart. She's become a bit of a chore lately, as I'm including her in my senior honors thesis; on the other hand, I've now read almost all of her novels, and while none are bad or even...not really good. Just that because a few of the novels shine so brightly, that the others seem duller in comparison.

Well, Alias Grace is a supernova. It's an absolutely phenomenal novel, and a truly thrilling read. It's a departure for Atwood, as it's historical ficti
I felt about Alias Grace the same way I did about probably half of Atwood's novels I've read so far - I just didn't fully get it.

Nobody conveys Life ain't easy for a woman message as well as Atwood. Past, present, future - the living is rough for women. It is particularly unpleasant for Grace Marks, a young servant girl in mid-19th century Canada, accused of murdering her employer and his housekeeper with the help of her co-worker and alleged paramour, and who is locked up first in an insane as
"When you are in the middle of a story it isn't a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood; like a house in a whirlwind, or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard powerless to stop it. It's only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all. When you are telling it, to yourself or to someone else."

This powerful passage is from Margaret Atwood's 1996 novel Alias Grace. She dev
Paul Bryant
At the very heart of certain narratives is a lacuna, to which the reader is drawn ineluctibly, as the centre of a whirlpool of meanings. It may indicate something essentially unknowable, ineffable - the lacuna in the Old Testament is when God tells Moses I AM THAT I AM, which lets us know in no uncertain terms that this thing is not of logic or language, whatever it may be; the lacuna of the New Testament is Christ's three days in the tomb - we are not told anything about that, it is unknowable. ...more
Jul 03, 2013 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: murder mystery fans
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
The Handmaid's Tale and the Blind Assassin were my previous Atwood reads and while I understand her alpha-author status in Canada and international reputation, her works just do not quite blow my mind enough to turn me into an obsessive Atwood completist. Before I decided to read Alias Grace it had been on my shelf for three years gathered enough dust to sculpt a dust bunny the size of an actual rabbit. I feel the same about A.S Byatt... no reason, no discernible malaise directed at these two la ...more
"Sometimes at night I whisper it over to myself: Murderess, Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt across the floor.
Murderer is merely brutal. It’s like a hammer, or a lump of metal. I would rather be a murderess than a murderer, if those are the only choices."

Alias Grace is Margaret Atwood's record of Grace Marks, who convicted of murder, spent thirty years in prison and a mental institution before being pardoned.

The book is based on true events of one of Ontario's most ambiguous cases - t
Doug Bradshaw
**Minor Spoilers**

This book is as close to time travel and walking in the shoes of another person as it gets, perfect historical fiction based on a fascinating actual case of a 15 year old girl thrown into prison for a double homicide. Most of the story comes in from two perspectives, Grace Marks herself telling her story to a young MD/psychologist working to see if he can get her released from prison, and then from the young physician himself listening to her story, never sure he can truly trus
Alias Grace, although a work of fiction, is based on one of Canada's most infamous murder cases. In Toronto, in 1843 16-year-old Grace Marks and fellow servant, James McDermott were accused of murdering their employer, Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper and mistress, Nancy Montgomery. Both were sentenced to death and McDermott was hanged. However, Grace's lawyer was able to get her sentence commuted to life imprisonment by arguing her youth, her gender, and, according to him, her feeble-mindedne ...more
Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood's ninth novel is a work of historical fiction, although based on a true historical event - the story of Grace Marks, a Canadian housemaid who was convicted of murdering her employer Thomas Kinnear, and suspected of murdering his housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery on July 23, 1840. The murder has been extensively reported in Canadian, American and British newspapers. It has sparked quite a controversy: Nancy was Kinnear's mistress who has before given birth to an illegitim ...more
Alice Poon

This is an intriguing story that Margaret Atwood has creatively re-woven from a true murder case that took place in the 1800s in the suburbs of Toronto, Canada. It is written from the perspectives of the imprisoned murderess and of the mental illness physician who was hired, sixteen years after her conviction, by campaigners for her release, to study her mental state prevalent at the time of the perpetration of the crime.

Interlaced with the enthralling narrative is the author’s insight into the
Debbie "DJ" Wilson
Another wonderful read from Margaret Atwood. I went into this book blind, not knowing this is Atwood's re-creation of an actual event that took place in the mid 1800's. The amount of research and location of records must have been extremely difficult. I think knowing this from the outset would have made a difference in my experience of this book. While it keep me fully engaged throughout, I found it a little slow and overly descriptive at times. Becoming aware that this was an actual event, I fi ...more
It really happened. In 1843, in a remote Canadian farmhouse, James McDermott killed his employer, Thomas Kinnear, and Kinnear's housekeeper and mistress, Nancy Montgomery. The two open questions were: 1) was the 15 year-old servant Gracie Marks the paramour of McDermott; and 2) was Grace involved in the murder?

Oh, people wanted to believe the worst. McDermott and Marks were found in flight across the border in the States. There wasn't much of a trial. McDermott was easily convicted and would han
Take a sensational event. Gather all information available about it, credible or not (testimonies, newspaper articles, letters etc.). Fill in the gaps with your own imagination. Carefully delete any border between reality and fiction. Here it is: the perfect recipe for a postmodernist novel.
And what a novel! As usual, Margaret Atwood creates a "oeuvre d'art". The story of Grace Marks, a "celebrated Canadian murderer" of the 19th century, is retold in a ludic manner, enriched with unexpected mea
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
My first Atwood.

Actually, I picked up this book not so much to learn about the murder of Thomas Kinnear, a wealthy Ontario farmer, and his housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery, on July 28, 1843, but rather to try the author. I had heard such great things about Margaret Atwood, and historical fiction is a genre I enjoy. The writing is special. The author is skilled and I was impressed. She has a talent for putting just the right lines into her different characters' mouths. There is humor. This humor is
Johnny D
When I was approximately eleven, a young teen and his friend approached the schoolyard fence during recess and talked to two of my friends and me. After asking us if we went to a school for albinos (it wasn't a school for albinos, it just so happened to be a school filled with children of mostly Dutch background), he proceeded to tell us a number of tales.

There was, according to him, an insane janitor that lived in the shed atop the vocational school across the way. This janitor had once murdere
I loved this book.

Right up until I didn't.

Atwood creates such compelling characters, and Grace Marks was no exception. I was curious (did she commit murder?), compassionate (boy, her life sucked) and drawn in (the tale bit by bit enthralled me). I couldn't make the pieces fit, which was just what I wanted.

For about 450 pages.

And then it all unravels. I knew she'd have to give the readers an answer as to what really happened, even though we'd been spoonfed info tiny bit by bit. The revelation was
Jennifer (aka EM)
Ahh, this is Ms Atwood at her most skewering. Grace possesses a remarkable voice. She is an enigma, but more, she is a litmus test. As she sits and sews, quietly telling her story, she lures others to reveal their own weaknesses. Grace is the great equalizer between the empowered and the powerless. It's really a novel of hypocrisy and duplicity -- but whose? And, if Grace -- impoverished, abused and Irish; without a friend in the world -- is guilty; what are the gentry - the gentlemen doctors, t ...more
This book is a gem. A work of fiction, but based on actual historical events, Alias Grace is the story of the convicted murderess, Grace Marks. Sixteen year old Grace and fellow servant James McDermott are said to have brutally murdered their employer, Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper and supposed mistress, Nancy Montgomery, in Canada during the 1840’s. However, Grace claimed to have no memory of her own culpability in these murders. Both were found guilty; James McDermott was condemned to dea ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 26, 2013 Ginny_1807 rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ginny_1807 by: Stela
“Una storia, quando ci sei nel mezzo non è una storia, è solo confusione: un fragore indistinto, un andare alla cieca, tra vetri rotti e schegge di legno; è come una casa che vortica in una tromba d’aria, una nave che si schianta contro gli iceberg o precipita giù per le rapide, e nessuno a bordo può fermarla. È soltanto dopo che diventa una storia, prende una forma. È quando la racconti, a te stessa o a qualcun altro.”

Magnifica ricostruzione biografica basata sulla rielaborazione critica del ma
I read this as part of a group read. There were most certainly mixed feelings about it. I have been afraid to read anything more by this author since reading The Handmaid's Tale. That one stayed with me. I enjoyed the different perspectives provided in this story. I liked Grace the best. I wish we had been given more of the story from her. Simon I could have done without. He was a tool, but not a very good one. What I meant to say is that he was a tool used by the author to move the story along. ...more

Better than The Handmaid's Tale, in my humble opinion. As good as THT was, there was a sort of self-conscious Orwellian allegory kind of thing going on that sort of blunted the edges of the very real and very pointed social criticism.

This one's more of a barn burner...plot moves fast, it's really engaging and kind of dark. I remember reading this and completely ignoring the bustling room all around me.

Don't you love it when that happens? It's like a textual cocoon...
Jack Jordan

The more I read Atwood's work, the more I'm dedicated to it; once I finish one title, I'm instantly looking forward to starting the next.

With Alias Grace, Atwood has perfectly embodied a literary classic - it reminded me of works like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Rebecca and others; luckily for us, Atwood hasn't held back on her frankness on sex and other topics that she writes of so well.
Atwood gently weaves fact and fiction in this tale,so well that I can't help but want to believe that thi
Alias Grace's most obtrusive weakness is chronic long-windedness, which is sure to thoroughly annoy readers with an impatient streak. Atwood had a tendency to spend exorbitant amounts of time on trivial subject matter. This book is very long, unnecessarily long.

This story is a fictional account of a true case of murder in the 1800's. I appreciate ambiguity on fiction, but what is the point of reconstructing a crime, examining it, if you do not give any opinion as to what actually took place? Fru
It was a bit hard for me to rate this book. As I have mixed feelings about it. Some parts I loved, but some I didn’t. It was depressing and dragging at times. Even the narration was quite strange. Which jumps from third person to first and in between there are letters which continues the story which was difficult to comprehend initially. But once everything made sense it became interesting.
The way Atwood has presented, what goes inside each character’s mind and how deceitfully it works sometimes
Genia Lukin
This is an extremely well-written book, and quite interesting besides. My main problems with it were that in a sense it was almost too well-written - it felt overwrought, and the substance often seemed to take second place to the language. It was written with so many artistic devices and tools that, in a way, I sometimes just wished the author would come out and say what she had to say.

I also felt the ending (I won't spoil it for you) was a little bit of a cop-out. It felt like a way to resolve
Shirley Schwartz
Margaret Atwood's writing skills are extraordinary, and she has a wonderful legacy of books that she has written. This book tells the true story of a crime that was committed in Richmond, Ontario in 1843. The true facts of the case are that a landowner and his housekeeper were killed in their home. The stable boy and the maid were accused and convicted of the crime. Both were sentenced to death but the maid (Grace) was saved from the gallows and spent 28 years in prison. These are the bare bones ...more
Atwood's talent is evident from a wonderful stream-of-consciousness rendering of Grace, who as a 16-year old Irish immigrant maid in the 1840's in rural Ontario was convicted of aiding in the murder of her master and his household manager and lover. Based on a true case, she was found in a hotel with the hired hand who confessed to the crime. The tale does well in portraying Grace's resilience and the process of her examination by a psychiatrist after years in prison. The manners and morals of t ...more
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Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.

Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry, childr
More about Margaret Atwood...

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Gone mad is what they say, and sometimes Run mad, as if mad is a different direction, like west; as if mad is a different house you could step into, or a separate country entirely. But when you go mad you don't go any other place, you stay where you are. And somebody else comes in.” 230 likes
“If we were all on trial for our thoughts, we would all be hanged.” 219 likes
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