Saturday, April 13, 2019

Alias Grace; Margaret Atwood

AUTHOR:  Margaret Atwood
PUBLISHER:  Random House Audio
PUB. YEAR: 1996
SETTING:  Canada
FORMAT:  -  library/audio (15+ hours)

Having enjoyed The Handmaid's Tale on audio last year, I wanted to try Alias Grace as an audio as well. Elizabeth McGovern did a great job and although this is a very long book, I thought it was time well spent.

The novel is based on the 1843, murders of Canadians Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery, his housekeeper and mistress.

Grace Marks, 16 at the time, was convicted and sentenced to life for the murders. Her partner, James McDermott was hanged as a result.  Now after some 30 years, a reform group has petitioned that Grace be pardoned, believing she is innocent.  Although she confessed initially to the crime, Grace seems to have no memory of the events now.

Dr. Simon Jordan, an up and coming expert in the field of mental illness from Massachusetts takes on the task of trying to determine if Grace is insane or was she a murderess?

The story started off slow and this is not an action packed story but, I did find the interview process pretty fascinating.  Atwood's wring is so good and occasionally infused with humor as well. I liked her keen observations. She really delves deep into what makes Grace tick.  The story is told from Grace's POV as well as the third person POV of Dr. Jordan.  While I really enjoyed this overall, the ending did feel like a bit of a let-down.


  1. I don't like it when the end lets you down!

  2. Diane, thanks for your honest review. Endings are important--sorry this one was a it of a letdown for you.

  3. Sounds good overall, despite the ending letdown. I'm planning to read her works at some point; I have The Handmaid's Tale on my TBR.

  4. Diane,
    I read The Handmaid's Tale decades ago and was wowed by it. I've read a couple of other earlier books by Atwood, but never read Alias Grace, though I've been curious about it. Atwood has written so many books that sometimes I'm nervous selecting one--isn't that silly? She daunts me a bit. Good for you for reading this one.

  5. Hm, I'd like to know more about that case even if I don't read the book.

  6. I haven't read a Margaret Atwood book in a long time. I feel like it's time that I did.

    1. May I suggest her book "Hag-Seed" which is a modern retelling of The Tempest by Shakespeare and it is BRILLIANT! My review is here

  7. I love this novel! I love Margaret Atwood. I have read all of her novels. She is in the pantheon of my top three with Toni Morrison (I reread The Bluest Eye this week) and Barbara Kingsolver. The Netflix movie of Alias Grace is also excellent, especially if one has read the book.

  8. I read this book in my pre-blogging years. The fine plot details are gone, but I do remember liking it a lot. I'm due for a reread of The Handmaid's Tale and am considering the audio version you mentioned.

  9. Sad to admit but I have a hard time remembering any of the Atwood books I've read. I read this one for book club at least a decade ago and I remember not one bit of it.

  10. I read this so many years ago and don't have a very good recollection of it but I do remember I enjoyed it. I'm a big fan of Atwood's writing but I haven't read any of her books in a while. So glad you enjoyed this one.


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