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Alias Grace

Length: 15 hrs and 57 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (2,761 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the number one New York Times best-selling author of The Handmaid's Tale

Soon to be a Netflix Original series, Alias Grace takes listeners into the life of one of the most notorious women of the 19th century.

It's 1843, and Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer and his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders.

An up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental illness is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story while bringing her closer and closer to the day she cannot remember. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories?

Captivating and disturbing, Alias Grace showcases best-selling, Booker Prize-winning author Margaret Atwood at the peak of her powers.

Cover photo by Sabrina Lantos, courtesy of Halfire Entertainment. The miniseries Alias Grace is a Halfire Entertainment Production made for CBC and Netflix.

©1996 O.W. Toad, Ltd. (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

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Story

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  • Diane
  • Louisville, KY, United States
  • 12-12-17

Mixed Feelings

I wish I had known before listening that this novel was inspired by true events--something the author makes clear in her afterward. It would have made listening to long stretches where not too much happens more intriguing--as Atwood tries to imagine what might have gone into the making of the horrific double murder with which Grace is charged and of which she claimed to have no recollection.

Grace appears to be a very prim woman, seemingly incapable of participating in such an atrocity--so much so that a variety of evangelists and spiritualists lobby tirelessly for her pardon. The novel revolves around the efforts of a young doctor seeking to make a name for himself in the newly developing field of psychology to get to the bottom of her story.

As I mentioned, the book is slow at times but does have its moments of high tension--I confess that it is one of those that I like better in retrospect than when I was actually listening to it.

46 of 49 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Beautiful and Intense Story

Atwood does it again. I will admit, I’m a little behind the curve on Atwood. Last year I finally read Handmaid’s. I’ve been wanting to start Oryx & Crake forever, but something else always popped up. When I saw Alias Grace on Netflix I had to read it first. I’m glad I did. It’s a remarkable novel that covers a range of genres. Atwood is so capable of telling a complete story in any time while keeping her style, complex characters and charming wit. I love that there is always a subplot that never tangles with the main plot in the sense that it confuses anything, but rather lives on its own in the story, and, while woven flawlessly amongst the main plot, has its own space to develop without hindering the story. Everything Atwood does is a testament to her brilliance as a storyteller. It doesn’t slow down. I rarely listen to an audio book when I’m not in the car. I finished this in 3 days, most of it in the house.

Gadon’s performance is spot on. Her nuanced accent for Grace conveyed the character’s full history. Other characters were simply brought to life in a fulfilling and convincing way.

I will now begin tearing through everything Atwood has ever written... if you’ll excuse me.

93 of 101 people found this review helpful

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Read the book after watching the series.

Filled in some holes and made the rewatch even more interesting. I woukd recommend both

36 of 39 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Very poor narration - pronunciation, monotone

I'm 2/3 of the way through. It's Atwood, it's a good story, I'll finish it.

The narrator, though, well - you should listen to this book but by another narrator.

1) This woman does not know how to pronounce the English language. "Untoward" is pronounced "Un. TOOwerd." See the review entitled "Pronunciation" for many more examples.
2) Also, Atwood uses some ballad verses and some 19th c actual verses, which this narrator CANNOT READ AT ALL. She mashes the verse, springs the rhymes, and manages to mess up both the beauty of the language AND the meaning, so that as a listener, you're left asking "huh?"
3) Monotone. She reads the entire book - police reports, letters, first person narrative - in a monotonous monotone, completely flat except where she emphasizes the wrong damn syllable. It makes the whole thing a kind of a pleasant drone without sense.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Guilty, Innocent, or something in between

This story builds like a gentle climbing hill. You find yourself going up in suspense, walking at a gentle pace, only to fall into a pothole of doubt as you climb. The story is written much like the stories of its time, punctuated with poems from the contemporaries of that era. Stick with it long enough to train your ear to the speech of the time period and I think you will be pleasantly surprised at being drawn into the story fully. I thought Sarah Gadon did a great job using her voice as gently as the characters were written, with hints of inflection to bring the reader to question and doubt, Is this voice of Grace speaking the truth, or is instead the voice of an angry vengeful spirit? The reader must decide for themselves.

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

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Saw the mini-series first

The story is great, I'm not sure it translates well to narration. Firstly, I saw the mini series first and was put off when I heard the narrator wasn't using an accent. it was also difficult for me to follow characters because the narrator used the same gentle voice fir all of them. Chapters would also be divided by these documents like letters and newspaper articles and I struggled to understand the shift in perspective and language at first. Could just be a processing issue on my part. I thought the story was great, there were some unanswered questions (not plot holes!) that I don't mind, but I know a lot of people have hang ups about that. I think the writers note at the end tied the story together nicely.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • BRANDI
  • PITTSBURGH, PA, United States
  • 11-26-17

Brilliant! Couldn’t stop listening!

Margaret Atwood has done it yet again! This intricate tale had me staying up late and listening every chance I could. I highly recommend it. The characters are original and compelling. The plot is unpredictable and enthralling.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Narrator is awful

The story was intriguing and the characters were somewhat interesting but I struggled to get past the narration. There was almost no change in pitch timbre or strength when switching from one character to another. It was very hard to follow as you could only tell who was speaking based on the context of the dialogue. In the days of digital recordings it would be easy enough to add another narrator to this story.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Pronunciation

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Overall, I enjoyed this recording. I read the book long ago, and thought I should brush up before watching the TV serial. I would/could have given it a five-star sweep, but the narrator's pronunciation of numerous words was distracting. Lethargy pronounced as leth-AR-gy; frisson as frishon or FRI-sen; decorous as de-COR-ous; timorousness as tim-OR-ousness; valises as VAL-ussus; ravenous as ray-venous. You get the idea. It happened so often that my attention was drawn away from the story, and it became almost a game to hear what mistake was coming next.

42 of 53 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good but not my favorite from Margaret Atwood

this is a very slow burn kind of story. I was hoping for a bigger payoff come the end of the story unfortunately that did not happen. I did enjoy the overall experience and getting to know Grace, as well as the entire experience that she goes through in this novel. However it was a bit dull, I would find myself drifting off and not pay attention there were a couple of times I would go back and reread entire chapters or paragraph but I still never felt like it added anything to the story. overall I would recommend this for anyone who's a big fan of Margaret work overall by no means is this a bad story just not my favorite of her works.

12 of 15 people found this review helpful