Customer Reviews


123 Reviews
5 star:
 (79)
4 star:
 (28)
3 star:
 (6)
2 star:
 (8)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crime and Punishment, Alias Punishment Without Crime?
A sizable part of _Alias Grace_ is based on Susana Moodie's mid-19th century book about Grace Marks, who was convicted along with fellow servant, James McDermott, for the murders of Thomas Kinnear, and his housekeeper and mistress, Nancy Montgomery. Moodie met Grace Marks while the former was visiting the insane asylum and then the penitentary where Marks was later...
Published on Feb. 12 2002 by IRA Ross

versus
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Atwood's best
This is not Atwood's best book by a long stretch. 'The Handmaids Tale', 'the Robber Bride', and the especially exquisite 'The Blind Assassin' are much more enjoyable. This book is slow, and does not have the wonderful turns of phrase that her other books have.
While she does a good job of leaving the reader guessing as to the guilt or innocence of Grace, the...
Published on Sept. 7 2002


‹ Previous | 1 213 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crime and Punishment, Alias Punishment Without Crime?, Feb. 12 2002
By 
IRA Ross (LYNDHURST, NJ United States 07071) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Alias Grace: A Novel (Paperback)
A sizable part of _Alias Grace_ is based on Susana Moodie's mid-19th century book about Grace Marks, who was convicted along with fellow servant, James McDermott, for the murders of Thomas Kinnear, and his housekeeper and mistress, Nancy Montgomery. Moodie met Grace Marks while the former was visiting the insane asylum and then the penitentary where Marks was later incarcerated. McDermott was hanged for his part in the murders; Marks was also condemned to die in the same manner, but her sentence was commuted to life in prison through the efforts of her attorney and of private citizens' groups who believed in her innocence. Much of Grace Marks' story is told by her, through a series of post-conviction interviews with Dr. Simon Jordan, a medical doctor who was a pioneer in the enlightened treatment of the mentally ill. Dr. Jordan is sponsored by a Reverend Verringer, who heads one of these groups.
What makes Margaret Atwood's novel so compelling is that much of what happens in _Alias Grace_ is based on true accounts of Grace Marks' life, which is seamlessly and expertly adapted by Ms. Atwood. She readily admits in her afterword "where hints and outright gaps exist in the record, I felt free to invent." Ms. Atwood is a master storyteller. Her Grace Marks is very much a three-dimensional, flesh and blood 19th century woman. The public's beliefs about her parallel many of the widely held views of females of her time. While many imagined Marks to be weak and easily led astray by a stronger and more wiley older man (Marks was only 16 at the time of the murders), others saw Marks as an evil and jealous temptress who entrapped a gullible man into the killings. Atwood also sensitively reveals the plight of many young girls of the period who suddenly become motherless and due to their changed cicumstances take positions as servants to the wealthy, or worse yet, are forced into prostitution. The alternative was pennilessness and ultimate starvation. Then there are those young women who fell prey to a "gentleman's" amorous demands, some of whom promised marriage, only to later abandon them. A truly heartbreaking episode in the book concerns Mary Whitney, a co-worker and close friend of Grace Marks, who dies as a result of a shoddily performed abortion.
By the end of the book the reader is given no definitive answer as to whether Marks was directly involved in either of the two murders. Her complexity is further revealed in the section of the book where a doctor (of the jack-of-all-trades type) puts her under hypnosis and another aspect of her personality is revealed. Grace Marks is confirmed as a woman of many sides, capable of acts of goodness, compassion--but murder? Read the very highly recommended book and then decide for yourself.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, Dec 31 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This was an excellent book. I could not put it down. Excellent writing and research. I really enjoyed it.
A good buy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars An accurate and interesting sketch of mid-1800's life, Sept. 5 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have never read Margaret Atwood before. She’s Canadian, after all, not a classical American or European author. But now I see, that was a mistake. Alias Grace is one of the best books I have ever read. It is the first of Atwood’s many novels I will be reading.

It is an accurate portrayal, among other things, of a time in Ontario before automobiles, electricity, cinema and paved rural highways. It is a retelling of the double murder in Richmond Hill in the eighteen fifties for which one perpetrator was hanged and the other, Grace Marks, while sentenced to death, initially, was commuted to life imprisonment. The question throughout the book: was she really guilty at all? It is a fictional account but rings veraciously and realistically true to the reader. There’s a little violence and a bit of romance or maybe I should just classify it as eroticism but it holds ones interest from page to page. A really interesting read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating exploration of a real-life trial, Dec 15 2001
By 
Nadyne Richmond (Mountain View, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Alias Grace: A Novel (Paperback)
This novel is based on a true story. In the mid-1800s, Grace Marks, a young Canadian housemaid, was tried and jailed for the murder of her employer and another co-worker. However, it was never clear whether Grace took part in the murders or not -- she claimed to have no memory of the incident, and the only other witness was the other murderer.
Atwood takes this story and adds her own touches. Atwood picks up the story many years later, as Grace is serving out her sentence. She adds a young psychiatrist who is attempting to break through Grace's amnesia. We see the world through Grace's eyes, as she interacts with this doctor and with the others in her life, as she remembers her life.
Atwood never answers the question of whether Grace was actually a murderer. Although some find this disappointing, I think it is a fitting conclusion to the story.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like ratcheting to the top of a tunnel in a rollercoaster, Sept. 10 2001
By 
S. John "johnste" (Saginaw, MI USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Alias Grace: A Novel (Paperback)
Yes, the subject is dark: the murder of two people by (?) a teenage girl and handyman. If you liked that Japanese movie where the same story is told by different viewpoints, you'll love this. But you'll never lose track of whose 'voice' it is, or whose story it is - it's Grace's. And it's yours. You'll feel like you're right beside her as she sprinkles water on the handkerchiefs of the family's laundry to bleach them in the sun, delighting in the snap of the fresh linen on the line on a bright day, or as she struggles to remember what happened on the day of the murders. Incredibly rich writing that puts you in Grace's skin, and that of her temporary psychoanalyst. You'll find yourself rereading passages for the delight of the prose or to savor the weaving of the story. Heartbreaking but an ordinary story - after all, a casual murder for pitiful profit isn't new. Heartbreaking in its reality and the feeling of being carried on the tide of Ms. Atwood's words, knowing you're headed out to the cold, isolated heart of the Atlantic.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Atwood's best, Sept. 7 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Alias Grace (Paperback)
This is not Atwood's best book by a long stretch. 'The Handmaids Tale', 'the Robber Bride', and the especially exquisite 'The Blind Assassin' are much more enjoyable. This book is slow, and does not have the wonderful turns of phrase that her other books have.
While she does a good job of leaving the reader guessing as to the guilt or innocence of Grace, the question, of course, cannot be answered (being a true story) and leaves you disappointed. The prelude to the crime (Grace's history) is the best part of the book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best, April 7 2002
By 
Jennie Oxman (Juneau, AK USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Alias Grace: A Novel (Paperback)
This is a book that I probably would not have picked up on my own; it was a selection from my book club. I was immediately [stunk] into the story--I could not put it down. The story of Grace Marks is so compelling, and Atwood is a master storyteller. This book has become not only my favorite of the books my book club has read, but one of my favorite books, period. Since then, I have read more of Atwood's work and enjoyed everything, but this is her best work that I have read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars Annoying, Aug. 14 2001
By 
Julia Johnson "khaosok99" (Rockville, MD United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Alias Grace: A Novel (Paperback)
I really thought I would enjoy this, I love atwood. But it just turned out to be a re-telling of this true story about fifteen times with nothing revealed at the end of it all. There is no signature feminist cry underlying the story. And the character of the psychologist helping Grace didn't go with the rest of the story at all. The worst thing was that Atwood didn't delve into Grace's character. All we knew about her was what everyone else did and a few banal inner thoughts she let us see. I was hoping she would at least speculate on what really happened. But I knew no more about the murder after reading than I did before.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars psychological character study extraordinaire..., July 30 2001
By 
lazza (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Alias Grace: A Novel (Paperback)
'Alias Grace' has long been recommended to me but I only just read it because the story, a piece of historical fiction of a 1840s Canadian murderess, didn't sound particularly appealing. Well my only regret is not having read the book sooner.
The story itself, on face value, is rather ordinary. Teenage girl and apparent boyfriend both kill their employers. However the girl ('Grace') is enigmatic and, as such, her actual guilt is brought into question. All this is explained very early in the novel. But then Atwood does a wonderful job of going into the mind and soul of our poor Grace; we are intrigued, disgusted, and feel compassion for this strange creature. The author then deftly reveals, in minute stages, what the real Grace is all about. The results are unexpected.
Oh, and Ms Atwood is a brilliant writer. Her prose is superb, to the point where you wonder if she can write a bad sentence.
Bottom line: among Atwood's best. A must read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars Is Pale Praise!, July 13 2001
By 
"anoniemoose" (East Coast, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Alias Grace: A Novel (Paperback)
Alias Grace is stunningly well written; perhaps one of Margaret Atwood's finest works. A beautiful gem, this book is a deeply compelling and disturbing mystery that is, as many real life mysteries are, not entirely answerable. Atwood skillfully explores a historical crime; intricate details evidence her extensive research into the time period, and will be appreciated by many readers. I was stunned by Atwood's phenomenal and quite specific ability to so eloquently express and illuminate the complexities of a young woman's (possibly...) dissociative memory and psyche; this is, for me, her most impressive feat in writing Alias Grace. Atwood has provided the compelling perspectives of other characters--each one sees Grace a little differently. The questions raised by each perspective are full of promise. This book was a mystery that I read with such intensity--and I didn't want it to end! A luscious blend of Margaret Atwood's poetic style and psychological suspense. Alias Grace merits the highest praise.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 213 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First
ARRAY(0xad73f714)

This product

Alias Grace
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (Paperback - Sept. 1 1997)
CDN$ 14.68
Usually ships in 2 to 4 weeks
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews