Best 1996 Adventures (2)
September 3, 2020
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1996 adventure novels.
Margaret Atwood’s historical psychological thriller Alias Grace.
Written in what’s been described as the Southern Ontario Gothic style (think Alice Munro, Robertson Davies), Alias Gracerecounts the true-crime story of Grace Marks — an uncommonly pretty housemaid who in 1843 was convicted for her involvement in the vicious murder of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and his mistress/housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery. Several years later, Grace — who claims to remember nothing about the incident — is hired as a domestic servant in the home of the penitentiary governor. Dr. Simon Jordan, a young psychiatrist, is called in to interview the notorious woman, in an effort to determine whether she was a murderess or merely an unwilling accomplice. Grace recounts her life story — as a struggling, abused Irish immigrant to Canada — to Jordan, who doesn’t see her story as relevant. Jordan, meanwhile, is an eligible bachelor uninterested in the vapid society women into whose company he’s forced; he’s attracted, instead, to his married landlady… and perhaps to Grace, as well. Atwood’s story includes newspaper blurbs, extracts from Grace’s written confession, poems, and more. Poverty, servitude, violence, insanity — this is a dark, mesmerizing tale.
Fun facts: Adapted as a 2017 Canadian TV miniseries directed by the great Mary Harron, Alias Grace stars Sarah Gadon as Grace Marks.
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.