Alias Grace is a novel that requires the reader to commit. Atwood leaves no stone unturned, as she imagines what her protagonist may or may not have done. A lot of the novel is concerned with the small moments of one woman's life, as she grows up, tries to care for her family, and learns her place as a servant in a rich household. Grace is a woman without agency; a woman whose life is controlled by her father, her boss, her jailers, the judge who presides over her case, and then by Doctor Jordan, a man who tries to discover if she is crazy or criminal. This book seems like an amalgamation of so many genres: it's a mystery, historical fiction, and an examination of what has changed and what remains the same when it comes to our expectations for women. Like all of Atwood's books that I have read, I'm sure that there are layers and layers to uncover for the book lover who embarks on a re-read.
By Margaret Atwood
Anchor October 1997
From my shelves
Sullivan excels at showing women in very different stages in their lives: Maggie is a bit reckless because she hasn't yet experienced consequences. Ann Marie bends over backwards to please the others in her life, neglecting her own happiness in the process. Alice has had decades of hiding her pain behind appearances, doing good deeds, and a good drink or five. She is finally at the point of not caring anymore what her children, grandchildren, or anyone else thinks of her.
I've seen several readers say that they were deceived by the cover and expected a fun, light beach read. Maine is certainly not that book. The anger has been simmering for years in the Kelleher household and each of the women do some really mean or stupid things during this story. This is not the book for you if you hope that everyone makes the logical choice or that every character will be likable. But our understanding of each woman builds as the author effortlessly dips into each woman's perspective of their past and their present and this story will certainly make you think about (or be thankful for) your own family.
By J. Courtney Sullivan
Knopf June 2011
From my shelves
Both of these have been on my shelves for longer than I care to admit. I think I need to read Maine very, very soon!ReplyDelete
I have a lot of those books! I'm trying to do a better job of actually reading the ones I own.Delete
I too have Maine on my shelves. I did buy it at the used book store because I thought it would be a fun beach read. Is it a bit of a downer? Is sounds like it might be.ReplyDelete
I don't know that I would call it a downer per say, but it's definitely a heavier book than the cover suggests!Delete
Darn. I was hoping that Maine was a light beach read. :) Still sounds good, though, as does Alias Grace...although I'm not sure I want to commit to it right now. Maybe later. (But does "later" ever really come?)ReplyDelete
Sometimes! One day will be the right day. :)Delete
Both books about women in various stages of dependence/independence. Good pairing, though at first blush, completely different genres.ReplyDelete
Glad you enjoyed them. I will file away the titles to perhaps look for at a later date. Thanks for your thoughts.
Thanks Rita! Sometimes it takes me a while to figure out if there are any connections between mini-reviews I want to pair...Delete
Great mini reviews! Alias Grace has been on my shelf for years and have always been pushing it to the side. Perhaps I'll have to read it sooner rather than later. I always assumed Maine was a summer read based on the cover, and avoid those like the plague. Although, after reading that it is quite the opposite, I think I will have to give it a try.ReplyDelete
I have to confess I picked up Alias Grace a few times before I finally took the plunge. It was worth it, though!Delete