Kristin reviews Alias Grace, one of Margaret Atwood's most popular novels. It's a book that is suddenly back in the spotlight since being adapted into a television show for Netflix.

"During the 1800s, sixteen-year-old Grace Marks was accused and then convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer and his housekeeper. This horrible crime filled newspapers at the time with stories of a love affair gone wrong, but since Grace had amnesia, she couldn’t bring to mind a single detail from the day. The public were left to wonder if this girl really was innocent or an evil murderess. Either way, Grace was convicted and this novel opens with her serving a life sentence in the Kingston Penitentiary. In Alias Grace, bestselling Canadian author Margaret Atwood has written a stunning story based on a notorious nineteenth century murder case which shows us what life was like after the trial for a convicted teenager."

This novel was very fascinating and satisfying. I tremendously enjoyed learning about life in colonial Canada as well as the personal story of this young woman. - Kristin

"Due to the fact that she has served several years of her sentence already, Grace is allowed to work outside of the prison walls during the day in the home of the prison governor. His wife greatly appreciates her sewing talents and eventually people come to see Grace as a gentle person who surely could not have performed such a gruesome crime. For this reason, a committee of spiritualists and reformers assemble to work on obtaining a pardon for her. To help their case, they employ Dr. Simon Jordan, an expert in the subconscious who hopes to use dreams and symbolism to help Grace recall the day of the murders. Simon visits her regularly at the governor’s house and the story begins to unfold from these meetings. Grace tells her life story in a coy manner, as he scribbles notes while occasionally pulling out objects such as an apple or a potato, hoping to trigger a memory that will reveal the truth of the events. However, Grace continues to claim partial memory loss and her story runs in and out of shadows, but never into the detailed truth that the doctor seeks. It turns out that both Simon and Grace are looking for their own truths which we ultimately discover are both quite elusive."

"This novel was very fascinating and satisfying. I tremendously enjoyed learning about life in colonial Canada as well as the personal story of this young woman. You will become immersed within the pages of this book and you better be prepared to be taken under the spell of Grace Marks! Any person who reads this book and lives in the local area will be in for an extra little treat because the author brings the story to life by referencing aspects of Kingston including street names, the weather, landmarks and of course the Kingston Pen. Luckily for us, we are able to take guided tours of the penitentiary now during the summer months which I would highly suggest you do after reading this book. It’s quite amazing to be able to walk on the same ground as Grace Marks and to see inside the walls of where she served her time. In the end, Margaret Atwood skillfully creates an unsettling tale of murder but also a stunning historical account of early Canada and the beginnings of our correctional system within this novel."

You can reserve Alias Grace in a variety of formats from the library by clicking here