I loved Alias Grace. I mean, I loved the writing, the characters, the story, the situations that Atwood created. It was beautiful. I especially loved that she developed all of this from a murder that occurred in the 1840s.
The material surrounding the actual murders is included in pieces throughout the novel. Atwood adds snippets of trial transcripts, as well as Grace's confession to add depth to the story she weaves. Every time I finished a section and came to one of those pages with real material, I had to remind myself that this actually happened. Atwood made me forget with the beauty of the tale.
But where she wins is the character of Grace. Rather than focus solely on the murder and devote most of the writing on the actual event, she alludes to it. Grace is recounting her story to Dr. Jordan throughout all of the novel. She takes it so slowly, and develops every detail that the murder seems secondary. When it finally does happen, it is over and done with and hard to accept. It is hard to connect the sweet Grace telling her story to a hardened murderer who has spent 20 years in prison.
That is the skill of Atwood's writing. She made me forget that I am not supposed to like Grace. Grace is not a person I should be feeling sympathy for if she did, in fact, murder her master and the housekeeper. But I did feel for her, and I felt for her so deeply that I desperately wanted a different ending. It was hard to know that even while I felt I knew her, as Dr. Jordan thought he did, she was still a convicted murderer.
That is great skill.
I also want to touch on the side story of Dr. Jordan. The perspective switches from Grace to Dr. Jordan and to letters written between characters. While I saw some critiques online about the side-story of Dr. Jordan and his landlord, I loved it. Essentially, Atwood sets up a similar scenario for Dr. Jordan as to what happened to Grace before the murders. I loved that she did that, to make Jordan and the reader question what they would do in that situation.
So yes, Atwood is a greatly skilled writer.
I loved this novel. It was truly excellent and beautiful. It makes me want to dive into the rest of Atwood's work so I can soak up her genius, but that will have to wait for another time.