Alias Grace


Alias Grace is a historical fiction novel by Canadian writer Margaret Atwood. First published in 1996 by McClelland & Stewart, it won the Canadian Giller Prize and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

The story is about the notorious 1843 murders of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery in Upper Canada. Two servants of the Kinnear household, Grace Marks and James McDermott, were convicted of the crime. McDermott was hanged and Marks was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Although the novel is based on factual events, Atwood constructs a narrative with a fictional doctor, Simon Jordan, who researches the case. Although ostensibly conducting research into criminal behaviour, he slowly becomes personally involved in the story of Grace Marks and seeks to reconcile his perception of the mild mannered woman he sees with the murder of which she has been convicted.

Atwood also wrote an earlier work, the 1974 CBC Television film The Servant Girl, about Marks. However, in Alias Grace Atwood says that she has changed her opinion on the question of Marks' culpability.

The novel is written from various points of view, told mostly through the eyes of Grace Marks and her "alienist" doctor, Doctor Jordan (employing first and third person respectively). The shifting point of view makes the text appear disjointed and adds to the effect of uncertainty in the narrative. When written from Grace's point of view, the reader is never sure if Grace is speaking or thinking as Atwood refuses to use punctuation to indicate either.

This content is from Wikipedia. GradeSaver is providing this content as a courtesy until we can offer a professionally written study guide by one of our staff editors. We do not consider this content professional or citable. Please use your discretion when relying on it.