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Alias Grace

Alias Grace [Kindle Edition]

Margaret Atwood
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

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.


'A sensuous, perplexing book, at once sinister and dignified, grubby and gorgeous, panoramic yet specific I don't think I have ever been so thrilled This, surely, is as far as a novel can go' Julie Myerson, Independent on Sunday 'Brilliant Atwood's prose is searching. So intimate it seems to be written on the skin' Hilary Mantel, Literary Review 'Oh brilliant! I cannot rave enough with its explosive mixture of sex, murder and class conflict, Alias Grace is an absolute winner' Val Hennessy, Daily Mail 'The outstanding novelist of our age' Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 887 KB
  • Print Length: 482 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385490445
  • Publisher: Virago; New Ed edition (3 Sep 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002TZ3D5I
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #11,383 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than thirty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays.

In addition to the classic The Handmaid's Tale, her novels include Cat's Eye, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy, The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize and Oryx and Crake, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Her most recent novel, The Year of the Flood, was published in 2009. She was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature in 2008.

Margaret Atwood lives in Toronto, Canada.

(Photo credit: George Whitside)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Typicl Atwood brilliance 25 Nov 2004
By Jimbo
This is the third novel by Margaret Atwood I have read, the previous two being the Blind Assassin and The Handmaid's Tale. What is apparent after reading these three books is the wide range she can turn her hand to, and the fact that she is one of the most important living authors. Alias Grace is a brilliant book - with a twin introspective and external focus, making it an exceptionally relevant read.
Alias Grace tells the story of Grace Marks, a teenager found guilty, along with another man, of the murder of her master and his housekeeper in Canada in the 19th Century. It was a notorious case at the time, making the papers as far away as Britain. Grace was given a last minute reprieve from the gallows and instead had to serve a life sentence.
The books focuses upon a psychologist looking into whether her claim of amnesia regarding the events is genuine or not. Atwood has written his letters particularly well and she succeeds in drawing out much humour and emotion - especially is his mother's missives. Indeed the whole book draws together a number of different strands - prose, poetry, contemporary reports and knitting patterns - to great effect.
The main part of the book, however, focuses upon Grace. Grace isn't defined by who she is but by who other people want her to be - reflected in the title. People who believe she is guilty or innocent do not do so on the basis of the evidence, but rather by the weight of their expectations. Atwood makes no judgement as to whether she is guilty or not. I suspect she is guilty, but then am I bringing the weight of my expectations to the book?
In this way the book is curiously relevant - we live in a world where much violent crime is sensationalised, and we make relatively few judgements on the basis of facts but rather by instinct. In this way Atwood allows us to search ourselves as much as we do Grace.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A totally modern story in a historical setting 15 Sep 2001
A complete classic, "Alias Grace" works on many levels and weaves together tones and themes to compelling effect.
Against the real life backdrop of the case of Grace Marks, a servant girl accused of murder in 1800s Canada, Atwood has created truly believeable characters and events.
"Alias Grace" tells the story of Grace through the guise of her recounting her life to a "new fangled" psychiatrist who has been sent to study her. Grace's story is intermingled with her private thoughts (perhaps revealing her own agenda), along with the perspective of those in society who are fascinated and sometimes repulsed by her.
Partly a "who-dun-it", the book also works on other levels. Atwood perfectly exposes the hypocrisy and prejudices operating in society at that time, by letting each character reveal their own motivations.
There are subtle sub-plots around the book's minor characters ; Atwood being the writer that she is, the novel has frequent feminist undertones ; the book is in part psychological study, and there are also some real questions raised within the novel that force readers to draw their own conclusions.
Please forget any preconceptions that you may have about Atwood as a writer, or the historical genre. If you have any interest in people and how they interact - or if you simply enjoy a well written novel - I promise that you will enjoy "Alias Grace".
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good read 7 Feb 2007
By Net
A very well written novel. It had me fascinated and hooked from start to finish. Very emotive at times, my curiosity to find out whether Grace was innocent or guilty drove me through this book at a fast pace. On the whole it was a skilfully written mysterious book, I especially liked the interwoven stories of the supporting characters. A deserving read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engaging and multilayered novel 15 Mar 2006
Certainly one of Atwood's strongest novels, this thoughtful and provocative text deals with the themes of gender and class in a subtle and challenging dialogue.
Those readers expecting a clear narrative with a revelation of "truth" at the conclusion will be disappointed (as I notice from several of the reviews included here), as this is not a "whodunnit" or standard crime novel. Instead Atwood uses the case of Grace Marks to question and deconstruction 19th century notions of gender and class identity.
The novel is narrated from the differing and, at times, conflicting perspectives of the characters, revealing tensions that are never clearly disolved, but instead open up the class ideologies of the period (as well as the traditional romanticised historical novel) for critique.
Despite (or perhaps due to) the deliberate lack of narrative clarity, and the ultimate lack of resolution, I found this a completing engaging read, and a tale which haunts the memory.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great contemporary 19th Century Novel 15 Feb 2000
By A Customer
Loved this.'Alias Grace' takes a true murder incident in Canada in the last century and combines genuine research with fictional supposition. As in all such books you want to know the truth, but more than most you trust the author. Broadly you can see where fact and fiction separate, and you feel integrity in the way Atwood has gone about the task. The book is particularly brilliant in capturing the detail of life in the 1840s: what they ate and cooked, hygiene, cleanliness, transport and so on. The chapter describing the horrors of crossing the Atlantic in an emigration ship from Ireland is superb. And the characters are entirely credible as well - Grace now recalling her past with apparent honesty but also a degree of sub conscious suppression. Suppression - particularly of sexuality - is one of the great themes of the book. And, as so often ('Middlemarch', 'French Lieutenant's Woman') it features that key character - the ambitious, clever Victorian young man - a doctor here (Simon Jordan) as in Middlemarch - facing a sea of troubles and doubts. He sets out to improve the world and push the boundaries of knowledge, but is challenged by frustration and by his own confused feelings and sexuality focused on a woman who gets cast as a femme fatale. Because in the world presented here, if women are not servants or wives that is all they can be.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Book in good condition.
All the pages are intact but are quite discoloured with age, still readable. The book took longer to come than I thought it would.
Published 20 days ago by Shirley Morley
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful
This is the second book I have read of Atwood's, the other being the powerful novel 'The Handmaid's Tale'. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Pepper
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Murderess, murderess...It has an allure, a scent almost...Lurid but...
Wonderful, wonderful read, based around a real-life murder that grabbed the public's interest in 1840s Canada. Read more
Published 3 months ago by sally tarbox
4.0 out of 5 stars "Our Lady of the Silences"
"Alias Grace is a work of fiction, although it is based on reality. Its central figure, Grace Marks, was one of the most notorious Canadian women of the 1840s, having been... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Christopher Sullivan
5.0 out of 5 stars Alias Grace
Have just re-read this after many years. Good read. Would recommend it. It gives a great insight into those times.
Published 4 months ago by Ljp
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
This is a book that I wish I'd read when I was younger so that I could enthuse about it to everyone I'd ever met. Made me want to read everything Atwood has ever written.
Published 4 months ago by Laura Whitefield
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and well written
The switching perspectives keep the story dynamic and the characters are drawn out impeccably, as usual for Attwood.

This is how historical dramas should be written.
Published 5 months ago by Geekgirl
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent but not her best
This book incorporates a true story, that of Grace Marks, and is set largely in the first half of the Nineteenth Century. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Spanish Flyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
I haven't re-read the book yet, I've bought it for my kindle for holiday! But read it about 5 years ago and the innocent/guilty question still makes me wonder to this day! Read more
Published 7 months ago by Katiiiex
4.0 out of 5 stars Who is Grace Marks?
Part fiction, part fact, Atwood's novel is about the late nineteenth-century murders of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery in Canada. Read more
Published 7 months ago by J. Ang
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His father was self-made, but his mother was constructed by others, and such edifices are notoriously fragile. &quote;
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Yet if you should forget me for a while And afterwards remember, do not grieve; For if the darkness and corruption leave A vestige of the thoughts that once I had, Better by far you should forget and smile Than that you should remember and be sad. &quote;
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What is believed in society, is not always the equivalent of what is true; but as regards a womans reputation, it amounts to the same thing. &quote;
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