Alias Grace Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Alias Grace

In 1843, Grace Marks was tried for the murders of her employer Thomas Kinnear, and his mistress Nancy Montgomery. James McDermot, also a servant in the house at the time, was tried and hanged. Grace was sentanced to life in prison. Little is actually known about her life, and the two accused gave 5 different stories during the trial. Using material from the time - newspaper reports, observations, Doctor's letters etc, Margaret Atwood has pieced together a story. Where the events are unknown, she has used her imagination. The book is consequentally half way between history and fiction.
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The book follows Grace from the brutality of her childhood as an Irish immigrant to Canada, through her years as a servant, and the loss of a close friend. Her life in a mental insitution and in prison is dealt with in less detail, but there is enough to give a distinct impression. Grace's tale is cut with extracts from the life of a fictional Doctor involved with her case - the moral dilemas of his existence provide an intersting counterpoint to the main tale.
The review of this Book prepared by Bryn Pearson

Chapter Analysis of Alias Grace

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Plot & Themes

Job/profession/poverty story    -   Yes Kind of living:    -   general poverty story Which institution    -   prison Life in an institution    -   Yes

Subject of Biography

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   servant Nationality    -   Irish Unusual characteristics:    -   Mentally Ill


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   6 () The Americas (not US):    -   Yes The Americas:    -   Canada City?    -   Yes Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   nice, like Andy/Opie/Aunt Bee Misc setting    -   Fancy Mansion    -   prison Century:    -   19th century

Writing Style

Book makes you feel?    -   thoughtful Graphic sex in book?    -   Yes Pictures/Illustrations?    -   A few 1-5 B&W How much dialogue in bio?    -   significantly more dialog than descript How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?    -   26-50% of book

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Margaret Atwood Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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