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Alias Grace

by Margaret Atwood

Other authors: Inger Gjelsvik (Translator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,435223498 (3.94)4 / 990
It is 1843, and 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 illness, is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story while bringing her closer and closer to the day she cannot remember. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories? Is Grace a female fiend? A bloodthirsty femme fatale? Or is she the victim of circumstances?… (more)
  1. 102
    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)
  2. 91
    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.
  3. 30
    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)
  4. 30
    His Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 41
    Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey (wonderlake)
  7. 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.
  8. 42
    Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt (KayCliff)
  9. 20
    The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola (JoEnglish)
  10. 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.
  11. 11
    Affinity by Sarah Waters (starbox, souloftherose)
  12. 11
    In a Dark Wood Wandering by Hella S. Haasse (AliceWonders)
  13. 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.
  14. 14
    The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles (Nickelini)
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English (210)  French (3)  Dutch (3)  Swedish (2)  German (1)  Italian (1)  Finnish (1)  Hungarian (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (223)
Showing 1-5 of 210 (next | show all)
Enjoyed this book immensely. I read something by Margaret Atwood some years ago and it hadn't left much of an impression so I approached this with a little trepidation but it proved unfounded. I loved the clear but evocative writing style. Her characterisations were superb. I have a clear vision of everyone of the major players in my head. The picture she paints of life at this time, with all its trials, tribulations and restrictions, are vivid. Excellent stuff. ( )
  Patsmith139 | Mar 15, 2021 |
A frightfully sexually-charged historical fiction hoisted by a psychological thriller feel, Alias Grace tells the story of convicted murderess and servant Grace Marks. Atwood's aptly ravelled, evocative prose rightly preserves the mystery and ambiguity surrounding the truth behind the murder. Hence, Alias Grace grippingly unfolds as a character study of its titular character. Oscillating between innocence and guilt, shifting between first-person to third-person point-of-views, the treatment of women within the criminal justice system drapes over its intrigue. The muddled evidence, three different versions of the murder, the notoriously conservative beliefs of the time, even the discrimination towards Irish people play massive roles in keeping the fascination for the horrifying murder case abiding until the end. And with the use of the now-defunct pseudoscience Mesmerism and Hypnotism in the novel, it thickens the already concentrated and violent crime committed. The stir of sympathy and uncertainty towards Grace Marks makes the novel brush against excellence. However, whenever the focus moves away from her, it tends to get dry and dull. The stage where moral corruption performs meticulously can get frustrating as well. Yet what makes Alias Grace stay swimming in the head is not the enigma of the crime and the convicted alone but rather the bothersome need and responsibility to hammer the gavel and drop the verdict for yourself: is Grace Marks innocent or guilty? ( )
  lethalmauve | Jan 25, 2021 |
Margaret Atwood remains one of my all time favorite authors. With this book, she brings alive a deeply compelling, complex and not completely clear character (Grace Marks). It is a history book, as well as an exploration of class differences and sexual power struggles.

Took me a while to get into it - but once I did, I couldn't stop. ( )
  bederson | Dec 17, 2020 |
A fascinating account of a true crime that examines the nature of truth and lie from several angles. Sometimes, we tell ourselves stories to shield us from the truth, and sometimes, they become the truth. But what is real? This is the question Atwood asks and then declines to answer for much of the book. ( )
  DrFuriosa | Dec 4, 2020 |
Alias Grace has been the bright spot of my reading the last couple of months. I found I spent the entire novel trying to figure out: Is she guilty or not guilty? If she is guilty, what is she guilty of?

Margaret Atwood does a wonderful job of introducing to Grace, letting you get to know her, and for me, letting me get to like her. What a bright woman, I think, who has gotten no breaks in life but managed to achieve some level of education. If anything, her personal moral code seems to be quite strict. Then "the facts" begin to presented, meaning the facts always come with some doubt. What do I believe or not believe? But I still like Grace and I want her to be innocent.

I have read several of Margaret Atwood's novels. Some have been this good, and some have been more mediocre. I will be remembering Grace for quite some time. ( )
  afkendrick | Oct 24, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 210 (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
Gjelsvik, IngerTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Drews, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pulice, Mario J.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walitzek, BrigitteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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?
Dedication
For Graeme and Jess
First words
Out of the gravel there are peonies growing.
Quotations
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.
Gone mad is what they say, and sometimes Run mad, as if mad is a 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.
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It is 1843, and 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 illness, is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story while bringing her closer and closer to the day she cannot remember. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories? Is Grace a female fiend? A bloodthirsty femme fatale? Or is she the victim of circumstances?

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