Alias Grace

Atwood, Margaret

Book - 1997
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Alias Grace
Takes readers into the life and mind of Grace Marks, one of the most notorious women of the 1840s, who is serving a life sentence for murders she claims she cannot remember.

Publisher: New York, NY : Anchor Books, 1997, c1996
ISBN: 9780385490443
Branch Call Number: FICTION ATWOOD
Characteristics: 468 p. :,ill., ports. ;,21 cm


From Library Staff

Memory Loss;
Mental maze.
Who's telling the truth?
Based on a real story.

Takes readers into the life and mind of Grace Marks, one of the most notorious women of the 1840s, who is serving a life sentence for murders she claims she cannot remember.

From the critics

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Dec 22, 2014
  • Chapel_Hill_KenMc rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Another of Atwood's masterpieces, based on a notorious double murder on the outskirts of Toronto in the mid-nineteenth century. Atwood gives us little in the way of traditional elements of trust in a novel; the protagonist is somewhat suspect, given to strange fantasies and sexual proclivities, and Grace herself is the epitome of the unreliable narrator: she may be a murderer, possibly schizophrenic, or perhaps she really does suffer from amnesia induced by extreme trauma. In either case, she's a very witty and engaging presence throughout.

Nov 29, 2014

“Alias Grace” is about Grace Marks, a young woman who lives in Victorian Toronto. After leaving behind her unfortunate past, Grace goes to work for a man named Mr. Kinnear. Once employed Grace quickly realizes there are tensions between the servants and Mr. Kinnear and his mistress. A stable hand and Grace ultimately end up murdering Kinnear and his mistress. The stable hand is hung, but Grace is simply imprisoned in a mental asylum to spend the rest of her days. Enter Doctor Simon Jordan, a young, blustering psychiatrist from the United States. Dr. Jordan agrees to treat Grace, as she seemingly has become amnesiac towards (and only towards) the murder. As the novel continues, both Grace and Dr. Jordan’s pasts are revealed, and a solution seemingly arises.

This book is, quite unfortunately, extremely uninteresting. It is obvious that a great deal of research was put towards “Alias Grace” but that alone will not satisfy readers. The characters are extremely unlikable, and while they go through symbolic character development, this is simply lost in the sheer dullness of the rest of the novel. The plot of “Alias Grace” is boring and simply drags on for no reason. The novel consistently back tracks and repeats itself, and then promptly throws a ridiculous curveball ending in the final chapters. The ending of “Alias Grace” seems forced and rushed, and does not flow well with the rest of the novel.

“Alias Grace” does have a great deal of symbolism in it, and makes use of many literary devices. However, it is such an incredibly disappointing novel for so many reasons. This novel is suitable for ages fourteen and up due to sexual content.

Aug 11, 2014
  • brianreynolds rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Margaret Atwood’s Grace Marks is nothing short of enchanting. Her voice resonates across time and thorough a medium devoid of sound. Alias Grace is a novel seething with energy and anticipation in spite of the quiet and composed voices which narrate it. I am not a fan of historical fiction and yet this work not only honours the genre, it holds so faithfully to the demands of “story” that the degree to which it might be truth or fancy is mute. It stays the course of veracity to life; it breathes; it comes alive on the page. I’m sure those looking for the gossip of a local double-murder (albeit one more than a centenary cold) will not be disappointed. But those looking for revelations of the human heart will be reward even more.

Jul 23, 2013
  • libraryscientist rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A very rich, detailed account of a possible murderess. Took awhile to complete, but I just couldn't leave it be.

Jul 03, 2013
  • mogie rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

The book did start of slowly until Grace starts to recount the events of the murder. Atwood's research efforts are very impressive and I enjoyed the explanation in the afterword. Being from Hamilton it was interesting to learn that the Parkinson home was modeled after Dundurn Castle.

Jun 08, 2013
  • Cheri_rishi rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

The book took off slow, but then took on pace when Grace starts recounting the time of the crime. This book is based on true events, and Margaret Atwood's work on it is tremendous. I was disappointed by the way things ended in the book though.

Oct 01, 2011
  • vcc rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Excellent writing by Atwood; her massive research efforts paid off. She presents an unbiased view as story-teller of a (fictionalized) true story. Very poetic.

Apr 29, 2011
  • carol554 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

You will love Grace! But you'll never be sure whether or not she is guilty

Nov 07, 2010
  • bshokal rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Enjoyed this story - had not heard about Grace M and the symbolism with the quilt squares which pieced together the story was ingenious.

May 16, 2010
  • lisahiggs rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

I really like Margaret Atwood, but I sometimes feel that I started by reading her best novel and have been going down the list from there.

While the title character is telling a story that draws in her listener inch by inch as she slowly lets out her yarn, Atwood is doing the same thing with her readers. The narrative jumps between characters and between time frames as Atwood keeps us holding on, waiting for the tangled climax. A climax comes only for Grace; the stories of all the other main characters are ended with an uncomfortable jolt. The unexpected jump into Victorian rape fantasies is a bit jarring as well.

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Oct 03, 2009

A fictional account of the 1843 trial of 16-year-old Canadian housemaid Grace Marks who was found guilty of the murder of her employer and his mistress.


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