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Alias Grace

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  96,067 ratings  ·  5,658 reviews
Man Booker Prize Nominee (1996)

"Sometimes I whisper it over to myself: Murderess. Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt along the floor." Grace Marks. Female fiend? Femme fatale? Or weak and unwilling victim?

Around the true story of one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of the 1840s, Margaret Atwood has created an extraordinarily potent tale of sexuality, cru
Paperback, 545 pages
Published 1997 by Virago (first published September 7th 1996)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  96,067 ratings  ·  5,658 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeffrey by: B the BookAddict
”All the same, Murderess is a strong word to have attached to you. It has a smell to it, that word---musky and oppressive, like dead flowers in a vase. Sometimes at night I whisper it over to myself: Murderess, Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt across the floor.”

 photo grace-marks-1_zpsjunk3lu3.jpg
Sketches made of Grace Marks and James McDermott during their sensationalized trial.

Grace Marks, at the age of 16 in 1843, was arrested along with James McDermott for the murders of their employer, Thomas Kinnear, and his mis
Sometimes I whisper it over to myself: Murderess, Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt along the floor...

Highlight of 2017 for me!
A pure gem. That is Alias Grace, for me. Another grand work of Margaret Atwood. Atwood, described as ‘one of the most brilliant and unpredictable novelists alive’ (Literary Review)……and also: ‘A witty, elegant, generous and patient writer.’ I would say a strong-minded, self-willed, wayward writer, sometimes also dark and ruthless. This story keeps you hooked f

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
Amalia Gavea
‘’...and the real curse of Eve was having to put up with the nonsense of Adam, who as soon as there was any trouble, blamed it all on her.’’

Grace is a murderess. She collaborated with her coworker to kill their master and his mistress. So the people say. So the people want to believe. Because, let’s face it, where’s the fascination in a murder committed only by a man? There’s no sensation, nothing to stir the crowds. Whereas a woman who took a life? Well, there’s the spectacle! Never mind that
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘if we were all on trial for our thoughts, we would all be hanged.’

the year is 1843 and grace marks has been arrested and convicted for her alleged involvement in two murders. she is only 16 years old and will spend the next 29 years incarcerated.

but what would possess a young girl to commit such a crime? and why did she give three conflicting confessions of what happened? was it a crime of passion or unfortunate circumstances?

the answers to these questions is exactly what dr. jordan hopes to
"If we were all on trial for our thoughts, we would all be hanged."

When I first read Alias Grace, I thought it was "less" relevant than her other, almost prophetically painful novels. I changed my mind. Not immediately, and not deliberately. But slowly, steadily, like a patchwork taking form, I could see the novel in a new light long after I finished it. It grew in my memory as it faded, and all of a sudden, it occurred to me that it was a masterpiece of quiet rebellion where the other novels,
Dec 21, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, booker, 1001
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
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
So, so good!
Alias Grace questions the existence of an absolute truth. Moreover, how is what we think of as the truth informed by power structures (specifically, gender and class disparages)? Can someone who is deemed mad tell the truth? Who do you believe when push comes to shove?
Even though this book was written in the 90s and is set in the middle of the 19th century, it remains an incredibly relevant read. I couldn’t help but read this story as commentary on current developments, such as the
Bionic 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
Paul Bryant
Jun 24, 2009 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
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Johann (jobis89)
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
”If we were all on trial for our thoughts, we would all be hanged.”

A fictionalised retelling of the story of Grace Marks and the part that she may or may not have played in the murders of Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery. Grace was only 16 when she accused of murdering her employer and his housekeeper.

This is a fantastic mix of true crime and historical fiction! Atwood blends the two wonderfully, even including actual excerpts from reports and books, as well as pictures of the two charged wit
This is an extraordinary reconstruction of the life of Grace Marks, a domestic servant who was convicted of the double murder of her employers in Canada in the 1840s. In framing the story around her interviews with a young doctor interested in making his name by proving her innocence, Atwood is able to avoid committing herself on the degree of Grace's guilt and complicity while exploring a range of wider social issues.

The doctor's troubled relationship with his deserted landlady is interwoven a
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another excellent novel from the pen of Margaret Atwood – this is her masterly, fictionalised retelling of the life of Grace Marks and the part that she allegedly may or may not have played in the murders of Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery.

The story takes place in the early to mid-19th Century and is written for the most part around Grace Marks supposed retelling of her life story to the fictional Dr Simon Jordan – events unfolds to the reader as they are told to Dr Jordan. This includes Gra
Mar 21, 2011 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
Doug Bradshaw
Aug 30, 2015 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
Dannii Elle
My, so far, favourite Atwood!

Alias Grace is the fictional re-imaging of the historical figure Grace Marks. Grace was just 16 in the year 1843 when she was accused of murdering her employer, Thomas Kinnear, along with his mistress and housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery. Grace's regal beauty and tender age redeemed her to the masses and a score of individuals pleaded for her freedom. Grace had little to say for herself, claiming short-term amnesia for the time surrounding the murder. James McDermott wa
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Audiobook performed by Sarah Gadon and an afterword by Margaret Atwood 15h 57m.

I definitely enjoyed this more than Handmaid's Tale. Imagine! I wish Netflix Canada would air the series for us Canucks that choose Netflix as our only television option. Because now that I have read/listened to the story, I am excited to see it all play out onscreen.

The tale of Irish servant Grace Marks is not one that I had ever heard about. It isn't one that we find lingering in our history books,but Atwood mak
Ashley Daviau
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I adored every single page of this book and I’m truly in awe of Atwood’s skill. She never fails to write an absolutely stunning story that completely draws you in from the very first word. I loved that this was based on historical events but with Atwood’s own spin on it, it is absolutely spectacular. I love how Atwood isn’t afraid to talk about important things and can really make you think while also thoroughly entertaining you. This book is an absolute must read, the story is just so interesti ...more
Leave it to Margaret Atwood to turn a real-crime novel into a conversation about gender and class! I have to say, I never really know what I am getting into with an Atwood novel: she always goes somewhere unexpected, thought-provoking and cleverly multi-layered.

Grace Marks was accused - along with stable-hand James McDermott - of murdering her employer and his house-keeper, but her death sentence was commuted to a lifetime imprisonment. Every official version of her story seem to contradict each
Jun 06, 2011 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
Nov 15, 2014 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 -
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
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace is a novel that provides a recreation of a true event in history, the murder of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper/lover Nancy Montgomery. The shocking part about the double murder of these two souls, is that their sixteen year old housekeeper Grace Marks, along with another employee of Thomas Kinnear’s, James McDermott, were charged with the crime. Atwood’s book begs the reader to consider whether or not Grace could commit this
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
pink pills and paper
After so much YA, I had forgotten that trance you get after finishing a really good, complex book, when your mind just whirls all you have read over and over for an hour after finishing, connecting the many, expertly guised threads.
Aug 12, 2017 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
guess who made another list? spoiler alert - ME!
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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
“If we were all on trial for our thoughts, we would all be hanged.” 441 likes
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.” 377 likes
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