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4 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

Alias Grace

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Alias Grace Cover

 

 

Reading Group Guide

1. This novel is rooted in physical reality, on one hand, and floats free of it on the other, as Atwood describes physical things in either organic, raw terms (the "tongue-colored settee") or with otherworldly, more ephemeral images (the laundry like "angels rejoicing, although without any heads"). How do such descriptions deepen and reinforce the themes in the novel?

2. The daily and seasonal rhythm of household work is described in detail. What role does this play in the novel in regard to its pace?

3. Atwood employs two main points of view and voices in the novel. Do you trust one more than the other? As the story progresses, does Grace's voice (in dialogue) in Simon's part of the story change? If so, how and why?

4. Grace's and Simon's stories are linked and they have a kinship on surface and deeper levels. For instance, they both eavesdrop or spy as children, and later, each stays in a house that would have been better left sooner or not entered at all. Discuss other similarities or differences in the twinning of their stories and their psyches.

5. Atwood offers a vision of the dual nature of people, houses, appearances, and more. How does she make use of darkness and light, and to what purpose?

6. In a letter to his friend Dr. Edward Murchie, Simon Jordan writes, "Not to know--to snatch at hints and portents, at intimations, at tantalizing whispers--it is as bad as being haunted." How are the characters in this story affected by the things they don't know?

7. How and why does Atwood conceal Grace's innocence or guilt throughout the novel? At what points does one become clearer than the other and at what points does it become unclear?

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

misabelladares, May 19, 2010 (view all comments by misabelladares)
This is my favorite Atwood novel. From the epigraphs to the Author's Afterword, this is a superbly constructed work filled with images beautiful and grisly, characters devious and trapped, and fascinating period details. The quilt-pattern chapter titles, the murder ballad, the epistolary segments, dreams, the daily routine--it's true that one doesn't want it to end. A good one to read and re-read.
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Avital, February 5, 2007 (view all comments by Avital)
Alias Grace is one of the best books I read last year. But of course, Margaret Atwood Never lets you down...She weaves a facinating story based on a true one about a young woman who might have been a Machiavelic murderess or a victim of circumstances. The story involves you as soon as it begins, and you never wish the book to end.
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(15 of 20 readers found this comment helpful)
eayc, September 9, 2006 (view all comments by eayc)
Fiction at it's best. The opening paragraph captured me and I've loved every word since. Although this book is about a vicious murder, the book is not scary. It the story of the woman accused. You won't be disappointed.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780385490443
Author:
Atwood, Margaret Eleanor
Publisher:
Anchor Books
Author:
Atwood, Margaret
Location:
New York :
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Murder
Subject:
Canada
Subject:
British and irish fiction (fictional works by
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Trials (Murder)
Subject:
Suspense
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
Trials
Subject:
Women murderers
Subject:
Biographical fiction
Subject:
Trials (Murder) -- Canada -- Fiction.
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
fiction;historical fiction;canada;murder;canadian;novel;mystery;crime;women;historical;19th century;prison;20th century;canadian literature;literature;canadian fiction;atwood;feminism;history;literary fiction;psychology;mental illness;margaret atwood;grac
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
034
Publication Date:
October 1997
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
480
Dimensions:
8 x 5.2 x 1 in 0.8 lb

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Alias Grace Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.50 In Stock
Product details 480 pages Anchor Books - English 9780385490443 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , In Alias Grace, bestselling author Margaret Atwood has written her most captivating, disturbing, and ultimately satisfying work since The Handmaid's Tale. She takes us back in time and into the life of one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of the nineteenth century.

Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and Nancy Montgomery, his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders.

Dr. Simon Jordan, an up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental illness, is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story while bringing her closer and closer to the day she cannot remember. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories? Is Grace a female fiend? A bloodthirsty femme fatale? Or is she the victim of circumstances?

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