Saturday, December 11, 2010

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

A story about a woman telling a story about a murder

This historical novel tells the story of Grace Marks who was convicted of the murders of her employer and his lover in 1840's Canada.  Did she do it or not?

I'm not sure if this was my cup of tea. Stabbing, Strangling, Shooting and Dismemberment. These don’t seem like the favorite subjects of the presumed murderess Grace as well, since she can’t remember the murders and would really rather forget. I was bored at times as I felt I had to wade through too much regurgitated research to get to the forward moving part of the story. Sometimes only the beautifully written descriptions kept me plodding on. Grace is just too passive, the typical tongueless Atwood heroine. Or is she a crazy liar? I did like the multiplicity of voices and the structure of the quilt patterns. And I loved the difference between Grace’s thoughts and Grace’s uneducated letters.

The best parts of the book actually, were the parts with lots of blood and the parts that take place in the godforsaken house in the middle of nowhere. The house with all the passions. Women don’t fare well in this novel at the hands of men who expect too much saintliness or too much villainy. The other main character is a Mama’s boy doctor (another passive character actually) who wants to “save” Grace. The tension between the two starts off strong but then gets frittered away somehow. I think part of the problem is that he’s too much of a straw man.

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