As a young woman, Grace Marks was arrested for the killing of her master, Mr. Kinnear, and his housekeeper-slash-mistress, Nancy Montgomery. Her "accomplice", Mr. McDermott, is already dead, and Grace is currently awaiting her fate in an asylum. Dr. Simon Jordan is a psychologist who is very interested in Grace because she claims to have no memory of the murder, or the events leading right up to it. Is she mentally ill? Innocent? Or a villain?
ALIAS GRACE is told from several POVs, which is a device I don't really like. Simon's POVs were odd, especially the sequences with his affairs and his dreams. My favorite POV was Grace as she's telling her story to Simon. I loved the parts about her childhood, and her close friendship with Mary Watney. As Grace tells her story, the suspense builds as the reader begins to wonder how this naive girl who overcame so much in her early life ended up getting sucked into cold-blooded murder.
It's no secret that Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors. Her writing is lush and beautiful, and even though it's dense, the story-telling is often just as good as if not better than the story itself. ALIAS GRACE is not my favorite of Atwood's work, but all the elements of why I love this author are present...just perhaps not in the best proportions. ALIAS GRACE suffers in the second act, when the narrative weakens and an odd hypnotism storyline rears its head. The last portion of the story is mostly epistolary, and this seemed designed more to hastily tie up loose ends.
ALIAS GRACE is an interesting book based on a true story, written by one of my favorite authors. It's certainly not a bad book, but it's not one I would want to recommend, and it's certainly not the first book that would come to mind if I were recommending Atwood to a newbie. But if you're interested in Canadian history and love Margaret Atwood, ALIAS is a must-read for you.
3 out of 5 stars.
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