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Alias Grace

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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  43,302 ratings  ·  1,972 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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Lindsay J. In both books the female lead is imprisoned. In this sense they are similar. However, Alias Grace is first imprisoned by the limitations of choice,…moreIn both books the female lead is imprisoned. In this sense they are similar. However, Alias Grace is first imprisoned by the limitations of choice, then actually imprisoned behind steel bars.
The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian story and Alias Grace is written in the form of a memoir/historical story since it is based on true events.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jamie
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
...more
Tatiana
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
...more
Paul
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
Shovelmonkey1
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
Maxine
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
Jean
"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
...more
Maciek
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
Stela
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
...more
Madeline
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tony
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
...more
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
Lori
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
...more
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
...more
Ginny_1807
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
...more
Jessica
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
matt


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...
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
...more
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
Hannah  Messler
I read Atwood in college, when I was even worse of a horrible arrogant idiot than I am now, and I did not get her vibe at all. Handmaid's Tale felt ham-handedly didactic, grimly resigned, and unrelatably old-fashioned in its vision of the dynamic between the sexes, where men are lofty and blind and greedy and foolish and so are women but for a hard-won few shark-eyed exceptionals. To me, a lavishly free and crudely, myopically immoral child of at least a couple rough tidals of hardy elbow-greasy ...more
Michael
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
Stephanie Pina
Of course, it was Elizabeth Siddal's portrait on the cover that prompted me to read this book, but Margaret Atwood did not disappoint. Grace's narrative brought me into her world. I felt for her. I felt sorry for Doctor Jordan, who is examining Grace, because he just seemed so lost in regards to his personal life.
Inspired by the true story of Grace Marks, convicted of murder in 1843, Margaret Atwood weaves a compelling story that gives Grace dignity and pride in the midst of what must have been
...more
Christy B
My first Atwood. I was very excited to dive into this seeing as how her books have been on my list for ages.

Alias Grace is a fictionalized account of a true story. In 1843, Grace Marks, a Canadian housemaid, was convicted of murdering her employer and his mistress. She and her supposed accomplice, James McDermott were both found guilty and set to hang, but Grace's sentence was later reduced to being committed to an asylum. Grace then spent the next thirty years in a variety of asylums and prison
...more
Nathanial
Nov 20, 2007 Nathanial rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lizzie Borden
Shelves: mystery
Similar to Testimony Of An Irish Slave Girl, but instead of being framed by the prejudiced perspective of an interrogator who questions the prisoner, we read the first-person viewpoint of the prisoner herself. Here the drama lies in the way Atwood uncovers layers of suspicion and reveals the tragic details of a life spent deceiving the masters - employers, jailers, and doctors, all - in order to live a life; whereas with McCafferty's novel -even with the extended passages of first-person testimo ...more
Mary
Feb 23, 2008 Mary rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: crime, historical
I've never been really keen on female authors - which is pretty obvious if you look back over my reading history - but I had Atwood recommended to me by several friends, so I picked up this book with the intention of giving it a whirl. I'd heard good things about The Handmaid's Tale but I didn't want to start with that one. It felt kind of like a cop-out.

Alias Grace was the most interesting sounding at the bookstore, so I picked it up and it grabbed me immediately. It's so beautifully written, a
...more
Szeee
Aztamindenit, micsoda regény volt ez!
Micsoda titokzatosság, micsoda finom nőiség, micsoda alantas ösztönök, micsoda történetszövés, micsoda irodalom!
Milyen gyönyörű metaforája a regényen keresztülszőtt patchwork takaró ennek a történetnek! Bámulatos.
Én nem ismertem Atwood írásait eddig, de maradéktalanul igazolta ebben a regényben a sok jót, amit hallottam róla.

Grace Marks, a 16 éves, csinos szolgálólány története igaz történeten alapul. Grace-t és tettestársát, a lovászfiú James McDermott-ot g
...more
Bonnie
I must have read this the first time a couple of years after it hit the shelves. I read it a second time a few years ago when a friend commented on it; how much she enjoyed it. I have to agree. As did others: it won a number of awards.
Beth
And that is how we go on. He asks a question, and I say an answer, and he writes it down. In the courtroom, every word that came out of my mouth was as if burnt into the paper they were writing it on, and once I said a thing I knew I could never get the words back; only they were the wrong words, because whatever I said it would be twisted around, even if it was the plain truth in the first place. And it was the same thing with Dr. Bannerling at the Asylum. But now I feel as if everything I say ...more
Fabian
“Alias Grace” Margaret Atwood. 5/27/12

I keep kicking myself for having ditched the Atwood Speaking Gala at AWP this year. The fierce literati kept the attendance so high that it was virtually as if Lady Gaga herself were to give a lecture on her impressive work. I was more interested in walking all around Chicago, anyway, but I really (semi)regret not having nabbed a coveted seat. She was probably amazing: uber-clever and brilliant.

Without two minor (teeny) infractions, “Alias Grace” is pretty m
...more
Siria
A really fascinating, intriguing novel—Atwood looks at history and memory and gender/female indentity through the lens of the notorious case of Grace Marks, an Irish immigrant to Canada in the 1840s who was convicted of the gruesome double murder of her employer and his mistress.

Atwood's examination of these issues is as thoughtful and as thorough as you would expect from her. Each section of the novel is named for a different quilt pattern and is prefaced with a serious of epigraphs—court tran
...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
More about Margaret Atwood...
The Handmaid's Tale Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy, #1) The Blind Assassin The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam Trilogy, #2) Cat's Eye

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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.” 205 likes
“If we were all on trial for our thoughts, we would all be hanged.” 186 likes
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