My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Oh my, how I love Margaret Atwood.
“Murderess is a strong word to have attached to you. It has a smell to it, that word – musky and oppressive, like dead flowers in a vase. Sometimes at night I whisper it over to myself: Murderess, Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt across the floor.”
Serendipity: I didn’t even know I was picking up a fictional history novel until I got a little ways into it, then realized Grace Marks was a real and quite notorious woman, convicted of murder in 1850’s Canada. The last few historical fiction novels I tried to read were dismal efforts, so Atwood’s scholarly research and inimitable writing made this an especially welcome surprise. I even love the ambiguous ending. It’s really the only ending possible, given this is a mystery that can, now, never be solved, and I think only Margaret Atwood could have pulled it off, with her paradoxical evocation and opacity.
Bonus points for the murdered woman reading so much like my former Boss From Hell that it gave me a little thrill as she got her comeuppance for high-horsing and two-facing the wrong person (whoever that was…). Does that make me evil? Oh well.
I bought this on a whim, unread. I no longer have a lot of room to keep books, but one day I was just plain longing to leave a bookstore actually owning a new book. I’m glad I did. I’m not sure Atwood can ever beat The Handmaid’s Tale, for me, but Alias Grace ranks right up there.