BOOK v. TV: Alias Grace

I’m pretty sure the norm is to READ a book before you watch the adaptation… right?! I guess I did it backwards this time because I found Alias Grace on Netflix and plunged in. It’s a short series that follows Margaret Atwood’s novel Alias Grace which is based on Grace Marks, a woman convicted of brutally murdering her employer and his mistress in the 1800s.

Let me tell you, the Netflix adaptation is dark and captivating and after binging the entire series, I was left with a lot of questions. This was obviously done on purpose but honestly, I want to know if Grace Marks is truly guilty or a victim of circumstance… the reality is that we will never be sure of the truth at this point.

But I turned to Margaret Atwood’s take on the case and began reading her version of the infamous murderess. Atwood tells the story from the perspective of Grace Marks, a girl born into an impoverished family in Ireland. Grace is currently serving a life sentence in prison, however, she has a wide following who believe her to be completely innocent of her crimes. In an attempt to set her free, Grace is convinced to speak with a doctor in an attempt to get her memory of the events back but she starts her story from the beginning, allowing you to see how her childhood has affected her.

After living in poverty for a majority of her life, Grace’s mother and drunken father decide to uproot the family and move to Canada in hopes of a better future and more opportunity. Heartbreakingly, Grace’s mother dies on the ship and when her family lands in Canada, she is left to care for her siblings. Once her father deems her old enough, she is sent to work for a family as a servant, eventually leading her to the employer she is convicted of murdering.

Margaret Atwood’s portrayal of Grace is catching. You immediately become entranced in the story, wondering if she could really be the evil woman society has marked her. Her life, from the very beginning, was difficult and you easily begin to feel sympathy for her circumstances. The choices she made leading up the murder seemed to be choices truly meant to better her life and lead her to a quieter existence.

But is she really a sociopath? Honestly, we will never know for sure. But if you’re in for a little dramatized mystery from one of the best (AKA Margaret Atwood) then you should definitely check out Alias Grace! Let me know what you think too… because I am still not sure what I think.

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