Alias Grace was a Gem Hidden in Plain Sight

I committed a cardinal sin with this book: I started watching the TV show first. I know, I know, that’s a crime as a bookaholic! Truth be told, I did it because I was on the fence over whether I wanted to try more Atwood. While I was impressed with her writing in Handmaid’s Tale, the actual story wasn’t for me. But then Netflix went and tempted me with this beauty.

Telling of a notorious murderess, this is an intriguing historical murder mystery. Pacey and languid in equal parts, I found myself racing to the end of the book and the show at the same time! (such that the two are blurred together in my mind). The lilting tone of the writing and the specificity of the imagery took me on a journey. My only issue is that Atwood has an aversion to speech marks for some indecipherable reason- the only consequence of which is to blur the words on the page. But otherwise, I was captivated.

Twining real life events with hints of the supernatural twists the tale into a unique patchwork-puzzle. Even with all the pieces, it’s impossible to solve… and for me that makes it a little bit special. The text never fully commits to vindicating or condemning Grace- and for me that is the perfect solution. I am sure there are feminist interpretations (indeed I’ve seen a few) that blame all the negative male behaviour for everything bad the women do… and yet neither the book nor the show fully commits to that argument. Which is a good thing- not least because this would take away the responsibility (and therefore power) of its female cast.

And, because of this ambiguity, I can’t stop thinking about it. I confess after finishing, I fell down an (unsatisfactory) research rabbithole, trying to get to the bottom of the true story! One thing’s for certain, Grace has been haunting me ever since I first caught her eye.

Rating: 4/5 bananas


So, have you read this? Do you plan to? And what Atwood (other than the Handmaid’s Tale) would you recommend? Let me know in the comments!

23 thoughts on “Alias Grace was a Gem Hidden in Plain Sight

  1. Hhahaha I did the same, I started with the series (which I loved)! Still haven’t read the book though and I don’t think I’ll get to it this year… maybe the next one will be luckier

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I liked The Robber Bride by Atwood. It is similar in that male abuse of women is the most resonant driving force in the story, yet there are also some female characters who behave very badly and there’s really no feminist way to excuse them that I can see. Be warned, it does have some horrific abuse scenes.

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  3. I hate Atwood’s novels. I can never get into them. And I remember reading this for university and wanting to shoot myself. I could not stand it. XD

    I love Atwood’s short stories and poetry, though. “Death by Landscape” is one of my favorite short stories of hers. It’s about what happened at summer camp between two girls. It’s quite interesting. As for poems, she re-imagined the journals of Susanna Moody (an early settler here in Canada) into poetry, and they’re just absolutely beautiful and poignant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. haha that’s fair- I’ve only read one other (handmaid’s tale) and I didn’t like it. But I liked her writing style enough to want to give her another chance. I do like the sound of her short stories as well! And that’s good to know about her poetry! Thanks for the recs! 😀

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  4. I haven’t read/watched this one yet but now I’m going to after your review!! 😀 I must confess (that seems to be a thing with Atwood, eh?😉) that I watched The Handmaid’s Tale instead of reading it. I was thinking of reading it afterwards but since the series really is kind of brutal (very good but whoa!) I thought reading the book would break me.

    Liked by 1 person

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