Making it on to the Top 100 list at number 94 and being a Margaret Atwood book I was secure in thinking this was going to be a pleasing read. I did however rethink my assumption when I found out that this was a novel based on historical events. The last historical fiction book I read ‘The Red Queen’ left me incredibly unsatisfied and somewhat annoyed. I am pleased to say that ‘Alias Grace’ had the complete opposite effect. I was enthralled from the first chapter, though I have to admit I did not read the poems at the beginning of the chapters (it is always a habit of mine to skip them, I need to get right to the point).
In Canada, 1843 Mr Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery are brutally murdered. James McDermott (stable hand) and Grace Marks (housekeeper) are tried and convicted of these atrocious crimes. McDermott is sentenced to death and subsequently hung while Grace is condemned to spend life in prison. These are the factual backbones that Margaret Atwood uses to sculpt her narrative. To help create a tale she introduces to us Dr Simon Jordan an American doctor interested in retrieving the missing memories form Grace in hopes to exonerate her.
The character of Grace Marks is complex, shrouded in protective layers applied to keep her circumstances at bay. She has grown a harden exterior and very rarely lets her guard down, which would make her a difficult character to bond with. By Grace recounting her journey to Canada from Ireland and taking her position at Mr Kinnear’s, we learn what kind of person she was and how circumstance have moulded her into a level head woman.
It is a nice interaction that Grace and the Dr Jordan have. He draws out her character and story, both of which she has kept hidden. I felt that there was not only a friendship but something possibly deeper, which if having met under different circumstances would have made their personalities different and no attraction.
This book was enjoyable and I highly recommend it. Though I have habit of wanting everything to end wrapped up in a perfectly neat package; I felt that this package wasn’t as neatly wrapped as I would have liked it. I was slightly disappointed when things did not work out how I had planned in my head (that also makes the story more interesting, you have one thing in mind to be completely blind sided) but I soon realised it would never have worked how I imagined it. I am now after much thought completely satisfied and would not change the ending at all.
Margaret is fast becoming my favourite author and I can’t wait to get my hands on more.