Published by: Doubleday (1996)
Grace Marks is convicted of murdering her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and his mistress/headmaid, Nancy Montgomery. She is thrown in prison for being the accessory. James McDermott murdered them and threw Grace under the bus with him, except he was executed and she was sentenced to prison. Her “sentence” is to work at the governor’s home. A psychiatrist, Simon Jordan, intent on opening his own mental institution, tries to coax the real story out of her while dealing with his own demons. In the end, Jordan, and everyone involved, learns more than they can handle.
Atwood’s prose is top-notch. How this is the first novel I’ve ever read by her boggles my mind. As a historical novel, the story based in reality about a woman in Canada named Grace Marks, Atwood did a phenomenal job at re-creating this world by using first hand accounts and old records to make this story as realistic as possible. By the novel’s end, I wanted to know more about this Marks woman and do my own research.
Would I recommend this? Hell yes. Although as one of Atwood’s best novels, I was told (I was amongst Atwood fans in my book club) this wasn’t her best. If she wasn’t at her best in this book, I’d like to see her at her Best! This was a great read. Highly recommended for history buffs and literary buffs alike.