A to Z Book Review: ALIAS GRACE

My goal in 2022 is to read my way through the alphabet, at least one book per letter (more if I have time). My choice for the letter A was ALIAS GRACE by Margaret Atwood.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Grace Marks has been incarcerated these many years for her part in the murders of her former employer, Mr. Kinnear, and his housekeeper.

A (willing?) accomplice to the bloodthirsty dealings of her former coworker (lover?) and convicted at the age of 15, there are enough details – and of course, Grace’s impressionable age – to cast doubt on the validity of the conviction. Grace herself has no clear memory of the murders, having blacked out at various times during that evening. A visiting psychologist has been brought in to see if he can help Grace uncover hidden memories.

From the very beginning, Atwood masterfully weaves bits of backstory through assorted newspaper article citations of the murders, witness statements, and Grace’s own retelling of her life story – interspersed with disturbing little offsides and observations from – and about – Grace.

I was captivated from the beginning, and constantly drawing conclusions about Grace’s innocence – then second-guessing every one of them. I had a sneaking suspicion about the state of Grace’s mental health that was confirmed – and then re-examined, leaving me unsure to the end if Grace was a poor girl with a hard life who had endured trauma and abuse at multiple hands and was taken advantage of by many people – or if Grace was all of that, and had developed a cunning, manipulative mind to cope with it all. And did that make her any less innocent or guilty?

I understand this has been adapted for Netflix and I plan on giving it a view. This book will have your mind in a whirl, determined to piece it all together. Atwood doesn’t tie things up neatly with a bow, but leaves you to draw your own conclusions, and you’re going to have a lot of them. In her afterword, Atwood tells us all about the true-life story of Grace Marks, and the insight into her research makes it all the more fascinating.

I absolutely recommend this book. Fascination factor: 1000.

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