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Alias Grace

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  57,356 Ratings  ·  2,695 Reviews
Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery, his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders.

Dr. Simon Jordan, an up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental il
Hardcover, First Edition, 468 pages
Published December 1996 by Doubleday 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.

Community Reviews

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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
Nov 19, 2013 Jean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Dec 21, 2009 Tatiana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001, booker, 2011
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
May 22, 2012 Fabian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I keep kicking myself for having ditched the Atwood Speaking Gala at A.W.P. in Chicago 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 Chitown, anyway, but I really (semi)regret not having nabbed a coveted seat. She was probably amazing: uberclever & brilliant.

Without two minor (teeny) infractions, “Alias Grace” is pretty much a well-rounded, tot
Paul Bryant
Jun 24, 2009 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Doug Bradshaw
Aug 30, 2015 Doug Bradshaw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
**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
Mar 21, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Nov 15, 2014 BrokenTune rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, canada
"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
Jun 06, 2011 Maxine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 21, 2013 Tony rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian
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
Feb 28, 2017 Roula rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 αστερια
Αυτο το βιβλιο με παιδεψε.ημουν πολυ θετικα ντοπαρισμενη να διαβασω την ομολογουμενως καλυτερη Καναδη εν ζωη συγγραφεα .δεν ειχα ξαναδιαβασει κατι δικο της και το ηθελα πολυ.το θεμα του βιβλιου πολυ ενδιαφερον! η εξιχνιαση ενος διπλου φονικου.ο ενας ενοχος ,ηδη εχει οδηγηθει στην κρεμαλα , η αλλη που δεν ξερουμε καθολη τη διαρκεια ποσο ενεπλακη στο φονικο, ειναι σε σωφρονιστικο ιδρυμα.με αυτον τον τροπο η Ατγουντ θελει να θιξει οτι οταν προκειται για ενα εγκλημα με δολοφονο άντρα η ετ
Alice Poon
Sep 03, 2014 Alice Poon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Debbie "DJ"
Jul 07, 2014 Debbie "DJ" rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nenia *The Flagrant Liberal* Campbell

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As a young woman, Grace Marks was arrested for the killing of her master, Mr. Kinnear, and his housekeeper-slash-mistress, Nancy Montgomery. Her "accomplice", Mr. McDermott, is already dead, and Grace is currently awaiting her fate in an asylum. Dr. Simon Jordan is a psychologist who is very interested in Grace because she claims to have no memory of the murder, or the events leading right up to it. Is she mentally ill? Innocent? Or a villa
Tudor Vlad
Mar 16, 2017 Tudor Vlad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
“To go from a familiar thing, however undesirable, into the unknown, is always a matter for apprehension, and I suppose that is why so many people are afraid to die.”

Margaret Atwood is the author that I absolutely love and yet somehow never managed to read enough of her work. I started with The Handmaid’s Tale and than the MaddAdam trilogy and I absolutely adored them both. Yet it’s been almost exactly a year since I last put my hand on a book by her, and now that I’ve finished Alias Grace I’m
Nov 21, 2015 Claudia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was für ein Leben?

"Die Gefangene seufzte und hob die Hände beide:
Man quält mich, sagte sie, und ich leide;
Doch sie sind wenig wert, eure Riegel und Türen dicht;
Und wären sie aus Stahl, sie hielten mich nicht."
Emiliy Bronte, "Die Gefangene", 1845

Dies ist die Geschichte von Grace Marks, die 1843 zusammen mit ihrem angeblichen Liebhaber ihre Arbeitgeber ermordet haben soll.
Erst 16-jährig wird Grace zuerst zum Tode verurteilt und dann doch noch begnadigt. Begnadigt heißt in diesem Fall 29 Jahre Gef
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
Aug 19, 2007 Lori rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2007august
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
I feel a little bad rating this only three stars, but I rate on enjoyment, and Alias Grace took me two months of slogging to finish. Even though it’s a good book and under different circumstances I might have liked it more (and perhaps I will re-read?), I just was not in the mood for reading it. At all. So, three stars.

I mean, seriously, it’s not the book’s fault that most serious fiction makes me anxious right now. Or that all I want to do half the time is read fanfiction (I’m not joking when I
Oct 27, 2014 Candi rated it it was amazing
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
Paige P
Reading Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood is like trying to see a distant horizon clearly through a kaleidoscope. I found myself continuously maneuvering facts and characters to get to the truth. But of course, everyone has a different truth and what is truth anyway. The book begins by Grace telling us a surreal, dreamlike story of a murder, and we learn immediately that she is in prison. But, we do not know who, what, where, when, with who, why, or anything else for that matter. Much of Grace's me ...more
Kanada, 1859. Die Magd Grace Marks ist seit ihrer Verurteilung 1843 wegen des Mordes an ihrem Arbeitgeber und dessen Haushälterin inhaftiert. Ihr Mittäter wurde ebenfalls verurteilt, jedoch hingerichtet. Graces Strafe wurde aufgrund ihrer extremen Jugend – sie war zum Tatzeitpunkt erst 16 Jahre alt – in eine lebenslange Freiheitsstrafe umgewandelt. Der junge Nervenarzt Simon Jordan möchte Grace studieren – und ihr die Wahrheit über die Morde entlocken. Inwiefern hat sie an ihnen mitgewirkt? War ...more
Johnny D
Jul 17, 2012 Johnny D rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 24, 2007 Jessica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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

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...
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Oakville Reads: * Question #4 : Dr. Simon Jordan 8 19 Oct 28, 2016 03:56PM  
Oakville Reads: * Question #3: Historical Places in the novel 10 17 Oct 28, 2016 09:24AM  
Oakville Reads: * Question #2: Seasons 7 17 Oct 24, 2016 01:57PM  
The Armchair Trav...: * Alias, Grace * discussion 6 13 Aug 09, 2016 06:34PM  
The Ending is Driving me Crazy (Spoiler! YOU'VE BEEN WARNED) 5 198 May 29, 2016 02:53AM  
FABClub (Female A...: Alias Grace group discussion 21 23 Dec 31, 2015 08:57AM  
2015: The Year of...: Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood 8 66 Dec 30, 2015 08:28PM  
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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.” 254 likes
“If we were all on trial for our thoughts, we would all be hanged.” 250 likes
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