Read Along Review One: Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
When Catherine at Bookish Habits proposed a read along of Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace I jumped at the chance to join. Participants have been encouraged to provide thoughts about the novel up to this point. (Final review post is scheduled for May 30th.) The following is a (very) brief overview of the thoughts that immediately come to mind upon reflection of my reading so far.
Grace Marks has been charged with the murder of her employer and his mistress. Years later, she spends her days tidying the home of a governor and his wife, as part of a penitentiary work program, and her nights, locked in a cell with no windows. When a young doctor (Simon), desiring to uncover the mysteries of mental health, and confirm her guilt or innocence, arrives to interview Grace, we see the story of her life up until the horrid event.
Like most of Atwood's titles the subject is dark and there's no shortage of internal dialogue dealing with complex feelings. However, the historical aspect has been refreshing, as Atwood's characters generally occupy a recent past or very desolate future landscape. It's worth noting that while most of Alias Grace may be fiction, the trial of Grace Marks was very much an actual event that Canadians during the late 19th century witnessed.
The alternate narrative between Dr. Simon and Grace is effective, as it highlights the question of authenticity that comprises the heart of the novel. The reader is forced to regard two very different perspectives in quick succession. This method of examination, I'll admit, becomes taxing at times and forces me to set it aside. However, the brilliance of Atwood's work never ceases to amaze me.
I'll admit I've struggled with the bleak subject matter and despondent language, which make the novel a little harder to pick up. While the action may be slow in coming, the landscape is vibrant and tangible in a way that other works could never touch. I'm still formulating my thoughts on the woman question in this title.. so I'll be getting back to you on that.
Verdict: Still glad I decided to participate! It's Margaret Atwood. So, really, how could I not be? Looking forward to reading other reviews along the way! Be sure to check out Brenna's first review over at Literary Musings.