Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Crazy Lady or Unjustly Accused?

So I must admit, I've never read Margaret Atwood before. Well there are a lot of other books out there and I'm a busy girl! I finally got around to it and read Alias Grace. A friend told me this was one of her favorites and I find it both intriguing and annoying when people tell me to read their favorite book unless I know we have similar taste. It's awkward when someone hands you a book and you can't get through it or dislike something that they adore. It could break up a friendship in extreme circumstances (Fitzgerald and Hemingway were frienemies because Hemingway didn't like Fitzgerald's writing-or-because he thought Fitzgerald was a pansy-don't quote me on that).

Just so happens Atwood is a fantastic writer. A good portion of the story is told as Grace, the main character, talking to a psychologist about her past. A very tricky thing to do well, but Atwood weaves the story's present in with the storytelling. Luckily, I will not be losing a friend on this one. It was a good recommendation.

Grace is a quiet woman and as you get to know her, she starts opening up. The story is based on true events. There was a Canadian woman murderess who killed her employer and the housekeeper. Grace is that woman. Through a back and forth between Grace's narrative and what is happening in the psychologists life, the audience is unsure about what the truth is or if Grace is an anti-social, psychotic murderer. While getting to know the character, it's hard to think of Grace as a murderess. She is well mannered, but strong in spirit. She takes her predicament in stride and carries her burden with...well, grace.

As I believe is Atwood's style, the story has a bit of a supernatural twist. You can pick it up from the beginning, but it's not meant to be a sci-fi novel and it certainly is not a central focus of the novel. Towards the end, it kind of threw me off because the novel was set so much in the rational and scientific look at the human brain and manner, that adding a supernatural element felt a bit out of place. Judge for yourself.

All in all, I would recommend this to the patient reader. It is a bit longer (480 pages) and takes some patience to invest in, but it is a wonderful piece of historical fiction. This is a character-centered book, so if you want to delve into the human psyche and get to know a famous murderess, give this a shot.

Also, if you have recommendations for me, I'm always more than happy to hear them. I love hearing about new material. Just take it with a grain of salt, because I might not read it, or, God forbid!, I might not like it. Hopefully, we can remain friends even if your favorite book rubs me the wrong way:)

Happy Reading.