Christina's Reviews > Alias Grace

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
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's review
Nov 08, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: 1001-books-2006-edition, 2009, fiction, 1001-books-2008-edition, 1001-books-2010-edition, 1001-books-combined-edition
Read in January, 2009 , read count: 2

Based on real events, Margaret Atwood gives her version of the story of Grace Marks in Alias Grace.
As an Irish immigrant, Grace worked as a maid in Canada in several positions before she was imployed by Thomas Kinnear and his house keeper, Nancy Montgomery. Thomas and Nancy are lovers even though they are not married and Nancy sees herself as the lady of the house. Another employee in the house is James McDermott and he and Nancy are definitely not the best of friends which leads to Nancy firing him - and also Grace, one day when Thomas Kinnear is not at home.
So much is known - but the rest is a bit fuzzy, not what happened/i> but how it happened. But facts are that both Nancy and Thomas end up dead, Grace and James McDermott flees to the States where they are arrested, both are sentenced to death for the murder of Thomas Kinnear. McDermott is hanged but Grace gets her punishment changed to life in prison.
And this is where we meet her.
Grace's story is told by Grace herself to a young doctor - and psychiatrist - Simon Jordan. Grace is working as a maid in the prison inspector's home and in this home, she meets with Simon and tells him her story, from her early life in Ireland with a alcoholic and abusive father, to their journey by ship to Canada (a journey where she lost her mother) and finally, her life in Canada, ending with the two murders.
Simon is hired by a comitee trying to free Grace but as it turns out, nobody is exactly sure if she was a victim of McDermott as well, forced to help him with the murders, or if she was the one urging him to kill them. And since it's Grace who tells the story, we don't know either, since Grace is a very unreliable voice. One is never sure if she embellish her story to keep her audience as a way of breaking the monotony of prison life.
The book is excellent, well-written and rather exciting as you work your way to the murders and try to find the truth. Ultimately, the truth is nowhere to be found - since that was the case in the real murder investigation - so it's left to the reader to judge whether Grace was guilty or not, sane or insane.

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Reading Progress

01/10/2009 page 40
8.0% "I remember this as being very good."
01/10/2009 page 146
29.2% "I remembered correctly - it is a really good book!"
01/11/2009 page 169
33.8% "Learning about Grace's life."
01/12/2009 page 230
46.0% "Almost half way through."
01/12/2009 page 323
64.6% "Getting close to the murders now."
01/12/2009 page 499
99.8% "What part did Grace actually play???"

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