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Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Alias Grace (1996)

by Margaret Atwood

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,645181351 (3.93)4 / 881
  1. 100
    The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber (girlunderglass)
    girlunderglass: Both books share the impressive power of beautifully and believably conveying a particular place and time - they make the reader not only understand and love the peculiarities of a particular era, but also temporarily feel part of it.
  2. 72
    Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue (ainsleytewce, BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Based on sensational true crimes of yesteryear, these character-driven historical novels focus on young women whose attempts to escape lives of poverty and abuse lead to violence. Both disturbing, suspenseful books present nuanced psychological portraits of their protagonists.… (more)
  3. 51
    Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey (wonderlake)
  4. 30
    Gillespie and I by Jane Harris (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: It's difficult to explain this recommendation without revealing spoilers for either novel. Both are set in the 19th century, feature strong female narrators and concern a crime - and that's all I can say!
  5. 30
    The Ballad of Frankie Silver by Sharyn McCrumb (rbtanger)
    rbtanger: Both are historicals about female murderers. And both are equally haunting and mysterious with a good pull at the beginning and a good twist to the end.
  6. 20
    His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet (cbl_tn)
    cbl_tn: Both are Booker shortlisted novels that tell the story of a historical crime. Atwood's is based on a real crime.
  7. 20
    Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: The Polished Hoe portrays conditions in 20th-century Jamaica, while Burial Rites focuses on 19th-century Iceland, but these exquisitely detailed literary historical novels explore the lives of unusually intelligent women whose treatment by their masters has resulted in terrible crimes.… (more)
  8. 10
    The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen (rbtanger)
    rbtanger: The Bone Garden is set a decade earlier than alias Grace, but the atmosphere and feel of the story are very similar.
  9. 00
    The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola (JoEnglish)
  10. 00
    See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt (Anonymous user)
  11. 00
    Little Deaths by Emma Flint (Anonymous user)
  12. 11
    In a Dark Wood Wandering by Hella S. Haasse (AliceWonders)
  13. 33
    Possession by A. S. Byatt (KayCliff)
  14. 11
    A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore (1Owlette)
    1Owlette: Although set at different times and in different countries, both works explore similar themes of isolation, marginalization, and the effect of social pressures upon women's mental states, in haunting, beautiful prose.
  15. 11
    Affinity by Sarah Waters (starbox, souloftherose)
  16. 23
    The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles (Nickelini)

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English (171)  French (3)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  Catalan (1)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  All (181)
Showing 1-5 of 171 (next | show all)
Another great book from Atwood. Starts off a little slow (compared to her other books) but once you figure out there might be more to the story than you're seeing, it really takes off. Recommended for Atwood fans! ( )
  writertomg | Sep 6, 2017 |
Atwood's fictionalized treatment of historical figure Grace Marks. A great read. Lots of fascinating unreliable narrator stuff, and just the kind of patchwork narrative I frequently enjoy. I'm going to have to ease up on the Atwood for a while so I have some left to read later! ( )
  JBD1 | Aug 19, 2017 |
Alias Grace is the story of Grace Marks, a woman, well a girl really, who was convicted of murdering her employer Thomas Kinnear. Her co-accused, James McDermott, was hanged for his part in the crime but he went to the gallows saying Grace was the instigator. Some people in Kingston believe Grace is innocent and have hired Dr. Simon Jordan to prepare a report. Dr. Jordan has new ideas about mental illness and is anxious to try them out on Grace.

Grace Marks was a real person who spent 28 years in Kingston Penitentiary. Atwood has woven the historical details into a rich tapestry that includes threads of the immigrant experience, servant life, mental illness and women's dependence on men. There is also a recurring motif of quilting that serves to introduce the sections and provides an intriguing end.

I'm glad I finally had the chance to read this book which may now be my favourite Atwood. ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 7, 2017 |
Who is Grace Marks?
- cold-blooded murderess or innocent victim of the circumstances?
- prone to mental diseases and amnesia or a cunning actress?
- an honest, god-fearing, simple lady or a woman overcome by jealousy and rage, leading to murder?

Honestly, at the end of this book, I still don't know - and I feel that this is what Atwood wanted. This book is not building up to a conclusion or -so to speak - a destination. It is about the journey and the many sides to a story (which are not necessarily objective by any means). It is an enjoyable read, and a fantastic historical account - especially of the lower class historic female. ( )
  sonoKoala | May 30, 2017 |
Exceptional historic fiction, Atwood patiently unfurling the story, based loosely on the life of a maidservant convicted of murder. Grace's dismal early life in Ireland and horrid sea passage is rightly portrayed as the keystone to all that comes after. The core scenes are parlor sessions, years after the crimes, between Grace and a young (fictional) American doctor, dabbling in the evolving new science of the mind. His attempts to tease out the facts vs illusions (and elusion) are accompanied by flashbacks and letters to that end. Finely wrought characters enliven the narrative. Don't expect a pat solution to a sordid crime, however. Our young psychologist, as well as the real Grace Marks, both vanish into the mists of history. Atwood's smart, imaginative writing is what holds the reader in place. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Jan 14, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 171 (next | show all)
Margaret Atwood has always written her characters from the inside out. She knows them: in their hearts, their bones. For many years now she has been a stylist of sensuous power. In Alias Grace she has surpassed herself, writing with a glittering, singing intensity.
added by jburlinson | editNew York Review of Books, Hilary Mantel (pay site) (Dec 19, 1996)

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Atwood, Margaretprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Drews, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pulice, Mario J.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walitzek, BrigitteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Whatever may have happened through these years, God knows I speak truth, saying that you lie.
—William Morris, "The Defence of Guenevere"
I have no Tribunal.
—Emily Dickinson, Letters
I cannot tell you what the light is, but I can tell you what it is not...What is the motive of the light? What is the light?
For Graeme and Jess
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Out of the gravel there are peonies growing.
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.
It's 1851. I'll be twenty-four years old next birthday. I've been shut up in here since the age of sixteen. I am a model prisoner, and give no trouble.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385490445, Paperback)

In 1843, a 16-year-old Canadian housemaid named Grace Marks was tried for the murder of her employer and his mistress. The sensationalistic trial made headlines throughout the world, and the jury delivered a guilty verdict. Yet opinion remained fiercely divided about Marks--was she a spurned woman who had taken out her rage on two innocent victims, or was she an unwilling victim herself, caught up in a crime she was too young to understand? Such doubts persuaded the judges to commute her sentence to life imprisonment, and Marks spent the next 30 years in an assortment of jails and asylums, where she was often exhibited as a star attraction. In Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood reconstructs Marks's story in fictional form. Her portraits of 19th-century prison and asylum life are chilling in their detail. The author also introduces Dr. Simon Jordan, who listens to the prisoner's tale with a mixture of sympathy and disbelief. In his effort to uncover the truth, Jordan uses the tools of the then rudimentary science of psychology. But the last word belongs to the book's narrator--Grace herself.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:58 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A fictionalized account of Grace Marks, a maid who murdered her employer and his mistress in Canada in 1843. A stablehand who was her accomplice and who claimed she put him up to it was hung for the crime, while she ended up in a lunatic asylum. The novel analyzes the question: was she actually less guilty, crazy, or smarter?… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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