Book Reviews of Alias Grace

Alias Grace
Alias Grace
Author: Margaret Atwood
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ISBN-13: 9780385490443
ISBN-10: 0385490445
Publication Date: 10/13/1997
Pages: 480
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.

3.9 stars, based on 249 ratings
Publisher: Anchor
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

38 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Alias Grace on + 376 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 17
Without the mesmerizing plot of _The Handmaid's Tale_, this novel is a bit more difficult to get into. However, once you're introduced to the character, see how she presents herself, and then hear of her heinous crime, you'll want to read more.

Atwood made me question the strategy of victimhood throughout this novel: If you *are* guilty, do you keep quiet and play the victim of wrong place/wrong time? If you're not, do you remain silent for the same reason?

I felt unsatisfied with the ending, but you'll have to read it to judge for yourself. After all, there is a whole lot of judging going on in this novel. Recommended for a literary novel fan with a strong stomach.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 149 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Absolutely compelling psychological/crime drama based on a true story that happened in Canada in the mid 1800's. A woman is accused of murder and sentenced to life in prison. She claims that she can't remember the crime. A young psychology student begins interviewing her to try to get to the truth and she tells the story of her life. Grace is such a likeable character that you can't help but feel empathy for her plight and I found myself skipping ahead a few pages because I wanted to know what was going to happen next so badly. It's really a fantastic book for crime fans or history fans.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 412 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
Reworking and fictionalization of a real historical event/person, about Grace Marks, an Irish immigrant maid who was convicted along with a male servant in the same household of killing her master and the housekeeper, who was also the master's paramour. This took place near Toronto, Canada in the mid-1800's. Partly told about Grace, partly told about a psychiatrist interviewing Grace extensively many years after the fact. Interesting story, but I found it quite draggy and drawn-out in some places and found myself muttering, âget ON with it, already!â many times. Yet the story itself was interesting enough to keep me reading, and I'm not sorry I finished it.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 34 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
If you have not had the pleasure of reading Atwood, you should do so immediately. This book was quite good, interesting historical elements, really interesting characters and plot. I am re-reading Atwood's other books now because I remember how much I enjoyed most of them the first time around.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 9 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
A tough read, but worth the time it takes. Great for a book club
reviewed Alias Grace on + 117 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Had a hard time getting into it.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 136 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I really looked forward to reading this, but I could not get with the writer's style.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 63 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Beautifully written account a young maid's fall from grace in 19th century Canada.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 14 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Engrossing and deep. A great deep read, full of atmosphere. I recommend this book, highly.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 151 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is the fictionalized account of a true story.

Grace Marks, a poor, Irish immigrant housekeeper, has been convicted of killing her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and his housekeeper and mistress, Nancy Montgomery, along with the stable hand, McDermott.

The stable hand is hung for his role in the murder, but, Grace, who cannot remember the murders themselves, is sentenced to life in prison.

A group of people, who believe Grace is innocent and that the murders were committed solely by McDermott.

In an attempt to prove their case, they bring in Dr. Simon Jordan, someone they consider knowledgeable in the new field of mental illness, to help prove that Grace is not guilty of this crime.

Grace has been granted privileges that most prisoners do not receive. She works in the Governors wife home as a member of the staff during the day (her expert sewing skills have made her the seamstress for the home) and is returned to the prison every evening to sleep.

Each day, he sits with Grace as she tells him her life story. But, Grace does not know the full reason Dr. Jordan is there and has faced may disappointments in the past when others have tried to have her conviction overturned. The one piece of good fortune she did get was that her sentence was commuted from hanging to life in prison.

Graces life is told to us in a chronological fashion, each day, Dr. Jordan hopes that by letting her go at her own pace through her life story, she will be able to remember the day her employer and his housekeeper/mistress were murdered. And that the memory of the events will not have a detrimental effect on Grace.

In the meantime, Dr. Jordans work on this case, is having significant effects on the course of his life.

This was a very poignant story about what it was like to be the member of a household staff as well as an immigrant from a poor family with an abusive father. It also reflects what few choices Grace, as a woman, had to make a better life for herself. Along the way, there were people who intervened at appropriate times to help improve her lot in life and there were those who intervened and what they offered ended up costing her.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 14 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is a Margaret Atwood book about a young woman who murdered her employer in nineteenth century Canada. It is an historical account of a true crime. In the novel a psychiatrist seeks to explain Grace's actions: Was she taken advantage of or was she evil. It's an intriguing read, but a bit long.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 49 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
No doubt, the writing was great (as is all writing by Margaret Atwood). The story was just a little boring, it took weeks for me to finish this book.
reviewed Alias Grace on
Helpful Score: 1
I am a huge Margaret Atwood fan, I enjoyed her writing more than the whole of the book.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 11 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Interesting historical fiction which explores a murder and the early days of mental illness as a recognized disorder
reviewed Alias Grace on + 24 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Another Atwood great. Very well written, interesting and entertaining.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 42 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
If you like Margaret Atwood, you'll love this book. Especially unique.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Fantastic historical fiction! Quite exciting!
reviewed Alias Grace on + 51 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I love Margaret Atwood's writing, and she really goes above and beyond in this novel. In typical Atwood style, she never really lets you see behind the curtain, but --to me-- that is part of the thrill. I love this book and didn't want it to end. As the reader, you won't be able to decide if you love or hate the characters... but you can certainly unterstand why they behave the way they do... How far would you go to save your life? What secrets would you take with you to the grave? This book is fantastic!
reviewed Alias Grace on + 84 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was the first Margaret Atwood book I read, and will definitely read more of hers! Loved this story of a maid in the home of a rich woman and her husband. She falls in love with the husband (and possibly the wife), while the farmhand falls in love with the wife. They get together to perform an unspeakable crime, of which you aren't sure that she participates. Story occurs in the beginning of the century, and is written through her eyes, as she tells her story to a doctor trying to decide if she is crazy or not.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 88 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
While Im not all that familiar with Canadian writers, if Alias Grace is any indication of what Ive been missing by not reading more of Margaret Atwood, then I fully intend to go back for more. This novel had a lot going for it to begin with Atwood is obviously a talented writer with a knack for telling a compelling story. At the same time she expects the reader to do a fair share of the work as well. In this case were introduced early on to the fact that a terrible crime has been committed, but were not so sure that the woman who has been convicted of it really is guilty. Or (and here things get even more interesting) if she is guilty, was she really aware of what she was doing? Was she an unwilling partner in a crime she didnt want to commit but was forced to assist with in order to save her own life? Her story unfolds layer by layer and along the way we meet a cast of intriguing characters each of whom play an important part in helping us learn more about Grace and why she was imprisoned. Especially noteworthy is the character of Dr. Simon Jordon, a young doctor whose initial interest in Grace stems from his interest in new methods of treating persons with mental illness. Even though the novel was based on events that actually took place (there really was a Grace Marks who was tried for the murder of Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery in 1843, sentenced to prison, ended up in the lunatic asylum for a while and was eventually granted a pardon) what I enjoyed the most about the book had to do with the way Atwood developed the plot through the eyes of the characters and the relationships they had with one another.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 39 more book reviews
I love Margaret Atwood and this novel is part of what made me one of her biggest fans! This is a mystery within a mystery... It's always about layers with an Atwood novel. Great read!!
reviewed Alias Grace on
I couldn't even get into this book. After the few few pages, I gave up.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 24 more book reviews
atwood is always interesting and revelaing in unique ways (about the character and yourself)
reviewed Alias Grace on + 3 more book reviews
I loved this book! It was written with twists and turns like the great classic Victorian novels -- except more accessible in language. I loved the protagonist/narrator Grace. Very witty, sassy, wise.
reviewed Alias Grace on
An intriguing, quick read. Lots of narrative but all relevant and engaging. This is the first Margaret Atwood I have read but will most certainly not be the last.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 8 more book reviews
19th century historical fiction. A woman is accused of 2 vicious murders. She serves a life sentence but her case is taken on by a dr in the emerging field of mental illness. What really happened on the fateful night?
reviewed Alias Grace on + 30 more book reviews
This is very different from other Atwood books I've read. It's a historical mystery rather than a future world. There are some interesting points made about a woman's situation if they were working-class in the late 1800s, but while the plot was entertaining, the basis of it was not. At the end, I felt letdown by an Atwood book for the first time.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 2 more book reviews
This book was an interesting read for me. At times it felt tedious and it wasn't the type of book I simply "couldn't put down". However, something kept drawing me back to it and once I picked it up again I was sufficiently intrigued to keep reading. I loved Atwood's The Handmaiden's Tale and Oryx and Crake so this switch to historical fiction was an interesting change.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 23 more book reviews
Ugg, I could not get past page 36 and that took me several weeks to psyche myself up to read that much! I know it got good reviews on several websites, but I was bored to tears!! My bookclub abandoned it as several of us could not get past this point in the book (I read the furthest in it and I only made it to page 36). Do NOT recommend!!
reviewed Alias Grace on + 34 more book reviews
the story of Grace Marks a notorious and enigmatic women of the 19th century. She was convicted for her involvment in the vicious murders of her meployer, the wealthy Thomans Kinnear and his mistress Nancy Montgomery. Now serving a life sentence Grace herself claims to have no memory of the murders.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 11 more book reviews
Very interesting story and characters. Enjoyed it very much.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 6 more book reviews
An intriguing read from a great writer
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Captivating story.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 9 more book reviews
marvelous. well-written
reviewed Alias Grace on + 3 more book reviews
This woman had a hard life indeed.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 30 more book reviews
Margaret Atwood never ceases to amaze. She pumps out incredibly well-written books at an incredible rate and with nuance and variety. Alias Grace is based on an historic murder in the author's Canada in the 1800s. Not only is this a compelling mystery but it takes the reader right into those times. Every word is so carefully chosen for authenticity. I felt transported into the body of Grace and her bonnets. I lived in the prison chair where she carefully sewed dresses for the Governor's daughter while explaining her story to the alienist, our modern version of a psychiatrist. Thank you Margaret Atwood for sharing your gift with the world.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 431 more book reviews
interviews with Grace Marks, convicted of being involved in two brutal murders that she claims to have no memory of.
reviewed Alias Grace on + 13 more book reviews
In the 19th century, Grace Marks was convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer and his mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent, some think her evil or insane. 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 spiritualists and reformers who seek a pardon for Grace. Jordan is drawn to Grace, but also baffled by her. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories?