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Alias Grace
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1001 Monthly Group Read > April {2019} Discussion -- ALIAS GRACE by Margaret Atwood

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Charity (charityross) Sorry for the delay! The discussion is now open...


Amanda Dawn | 135 comments I'm a big fan of Atwood anyway, so-expectedly- I loved this book (read it years ago when I started the list as I owned it anyway).

I love the ambiguity of what really happened, and whether or not she was truly "mad" or using the idea of the spirit as a means to sanction her anger as a woman in the peak age of "hysteria". The seance scene was chills worthy- loved it.

Also loved how Grace meets a relatively ideal and calm end, despite the gruesomeness of what she'd been through previously. There are real life stories of people who've murdered before and then go on to normal lives, and that contrast is fascinating to me.

Also, If anyone has the opportunity to watch the miniseries, I highly recommend it!


Ella (ellamc) I saw that loads of people didn't like the way Atwood dealt with the hypnosis scene - the climax, denouement, what have you. I honestly thought it was a bit ingenious -- since clearly Atwood won't know the truth more than anyone else, why not confuse the heck out of everyone both in and out of the novel -- just like the real case? I couldn't put this down once I picked it up, and I found it compelling for reasons of gender and class in particular (not surprising for Margaret Atwood, but darn she is very good at that.)

Even the people present were confused - calling it a seance, when the "doctor" described it simply as hypnosis. I found myself being incredibly drawn to the actual case, and I have a feeling I might have been tempted to stop reading and google if the novel itself wasn't so good.

It's interesting that these reformers basically saved Grace. It's also interesting to think that the very things that caused her hardship - her gender and her relative poverty, lower class status - were the things that gave her freedom. Surely this wouldn't have happened for a man.

I will have to see if my TV still works. I pay for Netflix, so I should use it!


Sean (fordest) | 727 comments Mod
Being my first Atwood, I enjoyed this very much. I also think it was the ambiguity that intrigued me. At the end I was trying to decide if I was disappointed that I still didn't know whether or not she knew what had happened and duped everybody, or if she was really just as in the dark as we had been. I decided that I was not disappointed. If the real case was left with a certain amount of uncertainty, shouldn't we have been left that way too?

Certainly it was no surprise that the hypnotism was viewed as a seance with the audience being who it was. I wonder what Jeremiahs actual intent was? Did he think he could truly get at the truth with hypnotism? Or did he think he may giver her a way to "say the truth"? Was he truly surprised at the outcome? He was a performer and had already been acting. These are a few questions I still have.

I also watched the mini series and loved it. They did a remarkable job staying true to the novel when it came to Grace's story. Much of Jordan's stuff was left out but that's expected in an adaption.

I also wanted to mention all the J's in this book. That little mystery of who the J would end up being kept me wondering until the end. Early on I even went back to find Kinnear's first name expecting it to be Joshua or something besides William. Oh well.


Ella (ellamc) I also wondered what Jeremiah was doing and what he thought afterward. I really wanted him to get together alone with Grace and talk so I could overhear what they said.

It's fascinating to think this is all based on real primary sources.

I started watching the miniseries over the weekend, and I was really pleased with the two parts I watched. I noticed Atwood was a producer, and I thought they did a really good job of showing the reasons Grace had acted out while in the asylum (it was more clear in the miniseries than on the page, in my opinion) and clearly they stayed very close to the novel, which I truly love.

It's often very hard to watch a movie after reading a book, but this is actually an enhancing experience for me.


Marlise (mawz76) | 29 comments I really enjoyed Alias Grace, it was a very pleasant surprise for me. I have only previously read a collection of Atwood's short stories, which I also enjoyed. I loved the whole tone of this novel and the setting and I truly liked Grace's character. I believe the only thing I found to be an issue was that Grace, when speaking as Mary Whitney during the hypnosis, the things she said didn't seem like things Mary Whitney would have said in that manner. At least not the way that Grace had described her, in my opinion. Does that make sense? So that makes me double think everything... was she putting on a show after all? But I do like the fact that we will never know.


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